The delay to the court cases being taken by the five women who were shortlisted, deemed eligible but not promoted in 2008/9 along with Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington continues to mount.
Neither the campaign nor Dr Sheehy Skeffington can be directly involved in any of these cases, other than by giving financial and emotional support to the five women. If we were, then the activities of the campaign could be used against the five women by NUI Galway in the court cases. So we do not know the reasons why all the cases keep being delayed. However, we can make a reasonable guess based on everything NUI Galway did to prevent and delay Dr Sheehy Skeffington’s own Equality Tribunal case. NUI Galway first argued that the case should not go ahead; they then refused to give Dr Sheehy Skeffington access to the material she needed to take the case, and finally they delayed that access as long as they could so that she in turn had to seek a delay to have time to read and prepare a case.
From what we hear, prevention and delay is the standard strategy for NUI Galway management to court cases arising out of staff grievances. Presumably they hope the member of staff will eventually lose heart, run out of finance, or at the least, any decision in their favour will be so long delayed as to have little effect elsewhere. Doing the same again with the five women gives the lie to the President’s statement that the reason he could not simply promote them is that there was no legal basis for their promotion. If that was true, then NUI Galway would put no hindrance in the way of the cases going ahead, as they would simply be the way of resolving the problem.
NUI Galway’s management does not appear to realise that taking the same small-minded attitude this time is simply going to result in more and extended bad publicity for NUI Galway. The university is desperately trying to rebrand itself as caring about women. This is due to the prominence brought to the dire situation for women at NUI Galway by Dr Sheehy Skeffington’s win. They have appointed a new Vice President for Equality & Diversity and the task force they set up has now made recommendations including gender quotas for future promotions. If they implement the quotas, for all staff and including appointments from outside, that will be a truly significant step forward for all academic women in Ireland. But even with this, NUI Galway is not going to change the perception of NUI Galway as misogynist until they also redress the past injustice to these five women.
There is more to this situation than has been revealed so far. Six months ago, the campaign was sent proof of deliberate interference by management in the promotions of 2008/9. This is information which was not part of Dr Sheehy Skeffington’s Equality Tribunal hearing. We have not published this material because of the adverse effect it would have on the men promoted, who we do not think were principally at fault. Newspapers now report there is a whistle-blower from senior NUI Galway management who, it is also reported, details fifteen instances of promotion malpractice by NUI Galway in the evidence he/she has sent to the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The more NUI Galway management delay, the worse things seem to be getting for them. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping unpleasant things will go away is just not going to work this time!