Women's Conference 13/14 June 2018, Enniskillen

18 Jun 2018

Ailbhe and Chairs

About 160 delegates gathered in Enniskillen last week for the biennial Congress Women’s Conference.  The event had been postponed from March due to the adverse weather conditions. Full report and agenda available here

The conference was chaired by Jacquie White (UTU) and Margaret Coughlan addressed by:

  • General Secretary, Patricia King (See press release on her remarks about the Parental Leave Bill here: ;
  • Sheila Nunan, Congress President;
  • Assistant General Secretary, Owen Reidy who addressed the conference on the NIC ICTU campaign for Better Work Better Lives (betterworkbetterlives.org) and in particular the effect of low pay, precarious work on women;
  • Ailbhe Smyth, Co-convenor of Together for Yes who spoke about the recent referendum campaign and received a standing ovation for her efforts for reproductive rights; and
  • Catriona Crowe on the centenary of the Representation of the People Act and the first wave of Irish Feminism. Paper here

Executive Council members present included:

  • Patricia McKeown and Anne Speed (UNISON);
  • Ethel Buckley and Joe O’Flynn (SIPTU);
  • Phil Ni Sheaghdha (INMO);
  • Denise Walker (GMB);
  • Margaret Brown (FSU and Retired Workers Comm);
  • Ciaran Rohan (AHCPS)
  • Jacqui White (UTU and Co-Chair of Women’s Committee)

Motions on a range of issues including women and leadership in the trade union movement, the housing crisis and childcare were also debated and passed. The issue of sexual harassment and violence at work was prominent one and conference supported the work at the ILO to create a new international labour standard in this area.  The recent killing of Nurse Razan al Najjar as she tended to people wounded by IDF fire in Gaza was also mentioned and trade unions urged to build on their Palestine solidarity work, including the campaign to boycott next year’s Eurovision in Israel.

Finally, conference was strong on the need for protection of people’s rights in relation to Brexit and sent a strong message that dilution of rights will not be tolerated and the need for the Irish Government to be adamant on this issue. 

Pics here