Micheline Sheehy Skeffington and Students Union president to launch Secret Cartoonist exhibition in front of blank wall at NUI Galway

 

Mich Phelim 2Micheline Sheehy Skeffington and Students Union President Phelim Kelly in Arts Millennium building, before controversial dismantling of exhibition at NUI Galway.

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington and NUI Galway Students Union President Phelim Kelly have vowed to go ahead with the launch of the Secret Cartoonist exhibition on Monday (April 11) at 1:15 pm in the Arts Millennium Building foyer — whether the cartoons are hanging up or there’s just a blank wall.

Micheline and Phelim encourage students and other supporters to attend the launch as a show of support for several women lecturers at NUI Galway who have been forced to take their fight for the right to be promoted to the High Court.

A recent Tweet from Micheline. Follow her on Twitter: @MichelineShSk

The Students Union organised the exhibition to help back these women lecturers who are the focus of Micheline Sheehy Skeffington’s gender equality campaign. The controversy around the exhibit began Friday at 1 am when NUI Galway security staff dismantled it only hours after it had been set up in the Arts Millennium building. The exhibit comprises cartoons drawn by a secret cartoonist which depict a fictional university president and his problems with gender inequality. The few students who saw the exhibition when it was initially set up tweeted the news of its dismantling with photos of the exhibit and the resulting blank wall. The tweets went viral and even appeared Friday on a large TV screen above NUI Galway President Jim Browne as he addressed participants in ‘Bricks and Clicks for Europe’, a high-profile conference held at NUI Galway for European universities.

NUI Galway said the exhibition was taken down because it had not been sanctioned by the Arts Office, but later acknowledged that the Students Union had properly obtained the permission of the Buildings Office the previous week. NUI Galway now says the union can mount the exhibit but only if it meets a list of conditions, including providing insurance coverage. With next week the last week of lectures at the university, the union says it cannot possibly meet all of the requirements at such short notice.

Therefore, if NUI Galway does not back down and allow the exhibition to be held in the Arts Millennium building, the Students Union will hang the cartoons inside its own offices, which are in a separate building at the university. These offices are the only space at the university for which the union does not need permission to use, but they are inadequate for displaying an exhibit.

It must be noted that on Thursday at the same conference Jim Browne spoke at and at the same time that the Secret Cartoonist exhibition was being set up by Micheline and her partner, President Michael D. Higgins gave a speech urging universities to foster the ‘capacity to dissent’.

To listen to President Higgins’s speech, click on arrow below:

Also, on Saturday, Micheline gave a speech at the Army Barracks in Dublin at an event organised by Pax Christi, the Catholic peace organisation, to honour her grandfather, Francis Sheehy Skeffington. A militant pacifist, nationalist and feminist, he campaigned against British recruitment in WWI and was shot without trial by firing squad at these barracks during the 1916 Easter Rising, despite not being part of the Rising.

In November 2014, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington won a landmark Equality Tribunal case against NUI Galway for lack of promotion to senior lecturer, and then offered her €70,000 award to the five other women not promoted in the same round so they could take High Court cases as the Equality Tribunal deadline had passed. NUI Galway has, by far, the lowest percentage of women in senior academic posts of any university in Ireland and Ireland has the second-worst glass ceiling index for senior female academics in all of Europe, both EU and non-EU, after Malta, which has only one university. Thus, NUI Galway must be the second-worst university for the number of women in senior academic posts in all of Europe.

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