The mediation between NUI Galway and the four women taking High Court cases for gender discrimination in promotion has failed. A report of the failure will be published in the High Court on Thursday and another date for the pre hearing will then be arranged.
It means the four women’s cases have been delayed yet again. They had to wait more than six months for the previous date. They will also incur substantial legal costs for their lawyers’ time in mediation. And of course, in addition, the demonstration against the hypocrisy of NUI Galway that Micheline and the campaign had worked towards for six months didn’t happen. We now estimate that at least 200 and perhaps 400 supporters would have been outside the High Court on the day, and television, national papers and even the The Times of London were going to cover it. Obviously the four women are pretty disappointed, as are we.
We are told that neither party initiated this mediation, which we find hard to believe. The four women certainly didn’t – they knew nothing of it till 5.30pm on the Friday before the court hearing. However, President Jim Browne walked into the meeting of the university’s Governing Body at 2pm smiling and announced that things were moving with the court case and that he didn’t expect it to be a problem. We’ve also been told university management appeared to be making no preparations for the court case or demonstration during any of that week, as if they knew they weren’t going to happen.
Someone who fought a long legal case with NUI Galway tells us that they were treated to tactics by NUI Galway’s lawyers that were similar: surprise legal moves at the last moment, the stress of having to deal with decisions over the weekend, being cut off from their support, bullying and delay.
Micheline and the campaign didn’t hear about the adjournment for another four days. That’s because the women were advised to tell no one while they considered what to do. By then it was too late for us, or their unions, to suggest caution and that they should ask for some guarantee from NUI Galway’s management to show that they were serious. Instead, all we could do was hope for the best.
We fully understand why the women agreed to mediation. Preparing their cases has taken a lot of time and caused them a lot of stress. They all have families as well as full time jobs, so of course they would welcome a resolution. We know they were prepared to compromise and we would have supported them in what ever they accepted. What really annoys us, is not the fact that NUI Galway seems to have been so Machiavellian but that the university management then offered them what must have been peanuts in the mediation. We don’t know the details as the women had to sign confidentiality agreements, but we know they all turned it down without question. NUI Galway are loaded with money, they have 57 million euro sitting unused for years in their foundation , they spent €700,000 on the office of the new Vice President for Equality, but they couldn’t find their way to offer these four women anything they could accept. That smacks of bullying and vindictiveness to us.
So the fight must go on. Personally we feel a renewed sense of determination because of the way NUI Galway have just behaved. If you do also then please make a resolution now that when the High Court case comes around again you will be there with us demonstrating against NUI Galway’s actions. We are convinced that justice will win out if we don’t give in.
You might also consider supporting the filming of Micheline’s US tour. The eventual documentary, as well as her lectures and media interviews in the US, while primarily about Hanna Sheehy Skeffington’s fight for justice and equality, will also cover Micheline’s own campaign for the five women and for gender equality at NUI Galway. Let’s ensure that NUI Galway management are kept uncomfortable while we wait for the next High Court hearing.
Please share this post. It’s important that everyone knows that this injustice hasn’t gone away – that’s what university management want!
Note: this post initially reported that the mediation failure would be posted at the High Court on Tuesday. It will be Thursday. We apologise. We are not allowed to talk to the four women involved until the mediation is over so we have to rely on other information.