THE President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has paid tribute to leading Northern Ireland trade union and human rights activist Inez McCormack, who died today.
"A Derry-born woman, Inez's track record in the field of women's and human rights was unequalled.
"Her work in promoting the cause of labour and social justice in Northern Ireland was known worldwide," commented Congress President Eugene McGlone.
In December 2012, during her visit to Ireland, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented during an address in Belfast on her close and personal friend during an address in Belfast:
"Inez stands out amongst the extraordinary people I have met and worked with over the last 17 years. She inspired and motivated me, challenged me often, and we"re sending her our thoughts and our prayers and our best wishes as she fights a courageous battle against cancer.
Mr McGlone added: "Inez's commitment to social justice began in the 1960s when she became active in the Northern Ireland civil rights movement. She followed this on when she became a trade union and equality activist before becoming the full-time official of the National Union of Public Employees. She also held the post when NUPE was reconstituted in a merger as Unison.
"Her unstinting passion was recognised and she received many justifiable accolades," added Mr McGlone.
Her work included campaigning to organise and revalue the work and contribution of the "forgotten" workers, most of whom were women.Inez also led major campaigns for strong equality laws and to assert the rights of the most disadvantaged. In 1998, she led a successful campaign for such inclusive equality and human rights provisions to be included in the Good Friday Agreement.
Inez was the first woman to be elected as President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
Inez McCormack became the first female full-time official of the National Union of Public Employees where she worked from 1976 to 1990, the first female regional secretary of Unison in 1993, and the first woman to hold the office of President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions from 2000-2002. Her work was portrayed on stage in a play, Seven, that captured the life of Inez and six other women. She was played by the Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep. That production grew out of her involvement with the Vital Voices network, which was established by Hillary Clinton more than a decade ago