Introducing the Gender Equality Task Force

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The Gender Equality Task Force was established in February 2015, under the Chair of Professor Jane Grimson, former Vice-Provost of Trinity College Dublin. The role of the Task Force is to review gender equality policies in NUI Galway, with a view to making recommendations. The Task Force is completely independent - they set their own terms of reference and will advise on policies and practices on a range of gender equality issues as they see fit. Their work will impact real and positive change in the University.


The Gender Equality Task Force comprises 17 members, drawn from both inside and outside the University. The members represent a broad spectrum of expertise and different perspectives, with strong external representation. The Task Force is fully independent, with no members of the University Management Team or the Governing Authority. The members are:

Task Force Chair: Professor Jane Grimson - Former Vice-Provost, Trinity College Dublin

External Members Internal Members
Liam Bluett - General Manager, Ballybane Enterprise Centre Dr Louise Allcock - Lecturer, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway
Norah Gibbons - Chairperson, Child and Family Agency Maria de Almeida Silva – PhD Student in School of Law
Professor Áine Hyland - Former Vice-President, University College Cork Dr Nata Duvvury - Senior Lecturer, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway
Dr John Kremer - Former Reader in Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast Caroline Loughnane - Academic Secretary, NUI Galway
Professor Gerry Loftus - Former Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science, NUI Galway Dr Niall Madden – Lecturer, School of Mathematics, Statistics and  Applied Mathematics
Gráinne McMorrow, SC - Senior Counsel and Sole Member at Douch Commission of Investigation Aoife McNena - HR Operations Manager, NUI Galway  
Tadhg Ó hÉalaithe - Former Secretary General of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Professor Donncha O'Connell - Head of the School of Law, NUI Galway
  Professor Maura Sheehan - Personal Professor, J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway
  Natalie Walsh - Research Support Officer, Research Office, NUI Galway

Rapporteur: Nicola McNicholas


External Members

Taskforce Chair

Professor Jane Grimson

Former Vice-Provost, Trinity College Dublin

Jane Grimson is a former Lecturer in Computer Science, Dean of Engineering, pro-Dean of Research, and Vice Provost in Trinity College Dublin. She was also a member of the Irish Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, of the Board of Science Foundation Ireland, and a member and chair of the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology. She is a Past President of Engineers Ireland, the Irish Academy of Engineering, the Health Informatics Society of Ireland and the Irish Computer Society.

Professor Grimson has a particular interest in the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in engineering and also in academia generally. She was involved in the establishment of the Centre for Women in Science and Engineering Research in Trinity College in 2006 with funding from Science Foundation Ireland and is currently Chair of the steering committee for Trinity's application for an Athena Swan award.

Liam Bluett

General Manager, Ballybane Enterprise Centre

For over 30 years Liam Bluett has been a leading business figure in Galway city and region. Between 1978 and 2005 he was Finance Director of Nortel in the city, spending a total of 27 years in the role. Liam is a strong campaigner for entrepreneurism in the city, and in 2007 he led the foundation of the Ballybane Enterprise Centre, acting as General Manager of the Centre ever since. Liam has held board positions on a number of voluntary and community groups in Galway and beyond, including: Business2Arts, Dublin; Galway Rape Crisis Centre; Alan Kerins African Projects, Galway; Galway Volunteer Centre; Galway Civic Trust. He is also a member of the Galway Chamber of Commerce.

Norah Gibbons

Chairperson, Child and Family Agency

Norah Gibbons is Chairperson of the new Child and Family Agency, a State agency that brings together over 4,000 staff and a budget of over €550 million. Norah served as Director of Advocacy of Barnardos from 2005 to 2012. She served as a member of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse 2000-2009 (which produced the Ryan Report) and chaired the Confidential Committee of the Commission from 2000 to 2005. Norah chaired the Roscommon Child Abuse Inquiry in 2009 and co-chaired the Independent Child Death Review Group with Dr Geoffrey Shannon from 2011 to 2012. She is a member of Acknowledge Forum of Historical Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland. Norah was formerly the Chairperson of the Board of Action Alcohol Ireland and served on the Taskforce on the Establishment of the Child & Family Agency.

Professor Áine Hyland

Former Vice-President, University College Cork

Professor Áine Hyland is a former Professor of Education, Head of the Education Department, and Vice-President of University College Cork. She is currently a lay member of the Barristers' Professional Conduct Tribunal and of the Press Council of Ireland. She is also a member of the Irish Association of Youth Drama and of the Governing Bodies of the National College of Ireland (NCI), of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI) and of the Medical and Health Sciences Board of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). At international level, she is a member of the European Universities' Association's Institutional Evaluation Project (IEP) and in that capacity has been involved in the evaluation of universities in Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania.

Throughout her life Professor Hyland has had a keen interest in educational policy and practice at all levels of education. She has served as Chair of Educate Together and as a member of the Interim Curriculum and Examinations Board and of the Special Education Review Committee. In 1995-6, she was a member of the government’s Constitution Review Group and a member of the Technical Working Group on the Future of Higher Education. She chaired the Commission on the Points system which reported in 1999; the Statutory Educational Disadvantage Committee from 2002 to 2005; the National Economic and Social Forum’s Advisory Group on Literacy and Social Inclusion, 2009-2010, and a Working Group for the State Examination Commission on Reasonable Accommodations. She was a member and Vice-President of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences from 2002 to 2009 and of the Dormant Accounts Board from 2002 to 2010.

Dr John Kremer

Former Reader in Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast

Dr John Kremer is a widely published expert in the field of equality and diversity at work, and has worked with well over 100 public and private sector organisations, including the Northern Irish Assembly and Scottish Parliament, in relation to gender equality issues. He was a Reader in the School of Psychology in Queen’s University Belfast until 2011, and he now holds an honorary research post there. Dr Kremer has carried out a number of high profile research projects on behalf of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, including reports on attitudes to women (1986), and sexual harassment (1989), both of which have been widely cited. He carried out the ‘Women’s Working Lives’ project for the Equality Commission in 1991/2, looking at a wide range of issues relating to women and employment. He has also worked with the Fair Employment Commission funded a project during 1989 dealing with selection and recruitment practices in Northern Ireland, with a guide for employers published in 1995. He published a joint Equality Commission/College Employers’ Forum project which evaluated the response of all public sector organisations in Northern Ireland to gender and equal opportunities in 1995, and a report evaluating gender across the private sector in 1998. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s he has briefed the Northern Ireland Assembly on gender and childcare issues. In 2000 he was awarded the British Psychological Society’s annual prize for challenging inequality of opportunity in the UK. In 2001 he co-authored the guidelines for public authorities on how to conduct equality impact 2 assessments in line with Section 75 statutory duties associated with the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Professor Gerry Loftus

Former Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science, NUI Galway

Professor Gerry Loftus was Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway for three terms, retiring from the post in 2014. He was Professor of Paediatrics at the University since 1988. He is a former member of Údarás na hOllscoile, the Governing Authority of NUI Galway. Outside NUI Galway, Professor Loftus has served on Comhairle na nOspidéal, and as Chair of the Postgraduate Medical and Dental Board, the Health Services Expert Advisory Group on Children, and the National Steering group on implementation of Newborn Screening for Cystic Fibrosis. He has served on the National Task Force on Medical Staffing, which advises on workforce staffing, management, education and training within the health professions in Ireland.

Gráinne McMorrow, SC

Senior Counsel and Sole Member at Douch Commission of Investigation

Gráinne McMorrow has practiced as a Senior Counsel in the Irish judicial system since 2000. Her main areas of practice as a Senior Counsel are in Criminal Law, Mental Health Law and Judicial Reviews. She has spent a significant amount of time before the Special Criminal Court in relation to subversive crimes in 2003, 2004 and 2005. She was also involved with the Morris Tribunal for a period in 2004/2005. Since 2007 Ms McMorrow has headed the Commission of Investigation following the death of Mr Gary Douch in Mountjoy Prison. A Law graduate of NUI Galway, Gráinne McMorrow was called to the English Bar and the Sydney Bar, before being called to the Inner Bar in Ireland in 2000. Outside of Ireland she has been involved in a number of UK Government think tanks and commissions focused on issues relating to mental health law.

Tadhg Ó hÉalaithe

Former Secretary General of the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Tadhg Ó hÉalaithe is former Secretary General of the Department of the Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and former Secretary and Director of Corporate Services for the Higher Education Training and Awards Council (HETAC). He has worked in senior positions in public administration since the early 1970s, including in the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of the Taoiseach. He worked for 22 years in the Department of the Gaeltacht, rising to Secretary General level in 1991. Ó hÉalaithe continued as Secretary General as the Department was subsumed into the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, before being renamed Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. Between 2000-2002, he was Chairman of Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht Development Agency. During his time with HETAC, was involved in negotiations with Institutes of Technology regarding their procedures, including quality assurance and the conferring of awards. Ó hÉalaithe has an extensive knowledge of the Public Service at the highest level, including operational structures, legislative processes and labour legislation.


Internal Members

Dr Louise Allcock

Lecturer, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway

Dr Louise Allcock is a Lecturer in Zoology at NUI Galway, where she has worked since 2010. She has 13 years’ experience lecturing in Ireland and the UK, in both part-time and full-time positions. Dr Allcock is a leading expert in deep sea marine biology. Dr Allcock is President of the Cephalopod International Advisory Council; Fellow and former Council Member of the Linnean Society; Co-ordinator of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red data list for Cephalopoda; and member of the Working Group on Cephalopod Fisheries and Life History co-ordinated by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). She is Co-Editor of the Journal of Natural History, and Cephalopoda curator for the Encyclopedia of Life.

Ms Maria de Almeida Silva

PhD Student in School of Law

Maria is a doctoral candidate of the School of Law and a graduate of the National University of Ireland Galway with a Bachelor of Arts (Public and Social Policy), a Bachelor of Law LL.B and a Master of Laws Degree (Public Law) on the topic ‘Facing legal proceedings with limited knowledge of the English language in Ireland: A case for justice to de done and heard’, awarded in 2012.

Originally from Lisbon, Portugal she has been living in Galway, Ireland for almost twenty years. Over the last decade, she has been supporting and assisting migrants including asylum seekers and undocumented migrants accessing justice and healthcare in Ireland. Maria is a founding member and the current chairperson of the only official Portuguese association in Ireland (P.A.I.). She has been involved with various migrant groups, including the Galway City Intercultural Forum (chairperson from 2009 to 2012), member of the Ministerial Council on Integration, Connacht/Ulster appointee of theOffice for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, Department of Justice and Equality (2009 to 2013), the western representative board member for the Integration Centre, Immigrant Network in Dublin (2008 to 2010) and is currently the chairperson of the Galway County intercultural Forum since 2012.

Maria is a trained Portuguese/Spanish interpreter and a member of the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association (ITIA) and since 2006 has been working as an interpreter for the Irish justice system in Courts, Gardai stations and with the Irish Probation and Prison Services. Through her voluntary work she also assists legal teams in client consultations and over the years she has been helping many migrants with bringing claims to the Equality Tribunal, Office of the Rights Commissioner and the Irish High Court.

Dr Nata Duvvury

Senior Lecturer, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway

Dr Nata Duvvury is Co-Director of NUI Galway’s Global Women’s Studies programme and a member of the Global Women's Studies Research Cluster. She is also Leader of the Gender and Public Policy research group of Gender ARC, a joint NUI Galway-UL research network at the Institute of Business, Social Science and Public Policy. Dr Duvvury has extensive international research and programme experience in gender and development, with particular emphasis on gender inequality, domestic violence, rights-based approaches to development, and civil society participation and accountability. Dr Duvvury’s research has had global impact in shaping public policy around issues relating to gender. She has received grants from international organisations including the World Bank, UNFPA, UN Women, CARDI, and Department of Foreign Affairs.

While at the International Center for Research on Women in Washington DC she received grants from GATES Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, Ford Foundation, UNFPA, and USAID. She contributed a chapter to the recent Secretary General's report on Violence Against Women, which was introduced in the General Assembly of the UN in 2006. Her most recent contribution has been to UNFPA's State of World's Population, 2010: Conflict to Crisis to Renewal. She led one of the key background papers for the World Bank’s report ‘Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity’. She is currently leading an international team of researchers including Ipsos MORI, London and the International Centre for Research on Women, Washington DC on a three-year project investigating the social and economic costs of violence against women and girls in developing countries.

Caroline Loughnane

Academic Secretary, NUI Galway

Caroline Loughnane is Academic Secretary of NUI Galway. A graduate of the University, she was appointed Director of Marketing and Communications in 2008, moving to Galway from the University of Birmingham where she served as Head of Marketing between 2003-2008. In total, she has over 16 years’ experience in marketing and communications in the education sector. During her time as Director of Marketing and Communications at NUI Galway, Caroline was responsible for an extensive rebranding of the University, the development of a postgraduate recruitment strategy, internal communications to support a University-wide restructure, integrated marketing and communications campaigns, and developing innovative approaches to student recruitment in a highly competitive undergraduate market.

Caroline was appointed Academic Secretary in 2014. She is responsible for overseeing the management of academic administration and the implementation of academic policy approved by the Academic Management Team and Údarás na hOllscoile. She supports and advises the Registrar and Deputy President in developing academic policy, strategic planning and academic governance.

Dr Niall Madden

Lecturer, School of Mathematics, Statistics and  Applied Mathematics

Niall Madden joined the academic staff at NUI Galway in 2000. He holds a B.Sc in Mathematical Science and Computing Studies from University College Galway, and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Mathematics from University College Cork. He has fifteen years experience of teaching mathematics at all levels to undergraduate and postgraduate students of Science, Arts and Engineering at NUI Galway. His research activity is focussed in the area of numerical analysis, an applicable area of mathematics that is concerned with the theory and practice of applying computational techniques to solving differential equations. He has published extensively in the international research literature in this field, as well as contributing to interdisciplinary research projects in medical informatics and coastal dynamics. He has organised several national and international conferences in Mathematics and in Mathematics Education, including the inaugural Irish Meeting for Linear Algebra Research in 2012.

Niall is the NUI Galway Academic director for the AUA Modular Programme in Science and Technology, and a programme director for the NUI Galway Bachelor of Science Computer Science pathways. He is a member of the NUI Galway Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team.

Aoife McNena

HR Operations Manager, NUI Galway

Aoife McNena is Human Resources Operations Manager at NUI Galway. She has worked in the Human Resources Office in the University since 2006, having previously worked in Human Resources in the manufacturing industry. A graduate of NUI Galway, Aoife was awarded a Masters in Corporate Strategy and Human Resource Management in 2003. She is a chartered member of the CIPD. As a Human Resources professional, Aoife has a keen interest in HR policy and procedural development based on best practice and employment legislation.

Professor Donncha O’Connell

Head of the School of Law, NUI Galway

Donncha O'Connell is an Established Professor of Law and Head of the School of Law at NUI Galway. Donncha was called to the Irish Bar in 1992 and joined the Faculty of Law at NUI Galway in 1993. In 1999, he authored ‘Equality NOW: the SIPTU guide to the Employment Equality Act, 1998’, which explained the then new legislation designed to combat employment discrimination on several grounds, including gender, race, age, disability and sexual orientation. From 1999 to 2002, he was the first full-time Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. In 2002, he was appointed as the Irish member of the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights established by the European Commission on the recommendation of the European Parliament LIBE Committee. He was Dean of the Faculty of Law at NUI Galway from 2005 to 2008 prior to the establishment of the College of Business, Public Policy and Law.

Professor O’Connell is a Commissioner (part-time) of the Law Reform Commission, and a member of the Legal Aid Board. He is the founder and editor of the Irish Human Rights Law Review. He was previously the Senior Irish member of FRALEX, the legal expert group appointed that advised the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, and was lead author of various reports on Ireland for FRALEX. Donncha has also participated as a Council of Europe expert in several judicial training programmes in Croatia, Georgia and Azerbaijan and has worked in a similar capacity in other countries with the Netherlands Helsinki Federation and INTERIGHTS. From 2002-2005 he was a member of the National Council of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) and of the Executive Committee of Amnesty International Ireland. He served on the Board of Directors of INTERIGHTS - The International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights from 2009 to 2012 and has been a member of the Board of Directors of Druid Theatre Company for nine years.

Professor Maura Sheehan

Personal Professor, J. E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway

Before coming to NUI Galway, Professor Maura Sheehan was a Reader in the Brighton Business School at the University of Brighton. Previous to this, she was an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Management, University of Dallas. She has taught at Queen's University Belfast; St Catharine's College Cambridge; Birkbeck College; University of London; University of Graz, Austria; and was a visiting research fellow at the ESRC Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge. She has a PhD in Economics from the University of Notre Dame, USA. Professor Sheehan recently completed an EU Marie Curie Fellowship (2009-2012), which compared how labour is managed in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, examining the relationships between strategy, HRM, devolvement of HR to line managers and subsidiary performance. This project represented a synthesis of Maura’s expertise in industrial and labour economics, human resource management and international management.

Professor Sheehan has published widely on issues of workplace discrimination and injustice. She was commissioned by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights (SACHR) to examine workplace discrimination in the North of Ireland. She has given expert testimony on most facets of employment legislation to: the British House of Commons sub-committee on Irish affairs; the British House of Commons Employment Committee; the British-Irish inter-Parliamentary Committee on Irish Affairs; The Office of An Taoiseach (Taoiseach Reynolds); Dáil Éireann Committee on North-South Trade; Dáil Éireann Committee on North-South Economic Development; US House of Representatives ad hoc Committee on Irish affairs; and the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation She has delivered an invited talk entitled, ‘Fair Employment: An Issue of the Irish Peace Process’, presented to the United Nation’s Committee on Human Rights. She is currently completing a study commissioned by the Irish Nurses and Midwifery Organisation (INMO) on work place bullying in Ireland.

Natalie Walsh

Research Support Officer, Research Office, NUI Galway

Natalie Walsh is Research Support Office in the University’s Research Office. She manages the EU Funding Team and supports research development across the University. Natalie is actively involved in a variety of working groups and committees to promote and develop research at NUI Galway and she is editor of Research Matters, a research publication to promote and showcase Research at NUI Galway. Natalie is currently reading for a PhD in Entrepreneurial Identity in Academia at NUI Galway and she is studying for the EARMA Certificate in Research Management. She has been awarded a Masters in Strategy, Innovation and People Management from NUI Galway, as well as a CIPD in Personnel Management from the National College of Ireland.

Natalie has worked in the University since 2006 in a variety of units, including in the Human Resources Office, in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, in the Health Promotion Research Centre, and in the School of Chemistry. She is a member of the University Women’s Network Committee, and is currently undertaking the Aurora Programme, a women-only leadership development programme delivered by the Leadership Foundation. A student member will be added to the Task Force shortly

Rapporteur: Nicola McNicholas