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Minister Leo Varadkar Launches Equality and Diversity Report in UCD

Today the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar launched a report on equality, diversity and inclusion in UCD in the Science Centre.

 The report was compiled by the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) group, and is the first of its kind to focus on how the college is performing in areas such as disability, gender equality and inclusion.

It was revealed in UCD despite 66% of staff being female, women only made up 43% of the academic faculty. There was nearly parity in terms of research staff, with women making of 49% of those roles in the college.

 Following the report the college will look into the possibility of offering ‘refugee scholarships and internships’ and have now set up a working group to ‘address questions about UCD policies on encouraging applications from those with, or seeking, refugee status through the provision of scholarships or internships’.

The university have set a gender quota target of 40% female representation for all key committees in the college. The college has also attempted to make its meeting hours more family friendly, and has outlined that core meetings can only be held between 10am and 4pm. However, for example the Arts’ heads of schools meeting regularly takes place and runs until after 5pm.   

Speaking at the launch Minister Varadkar said the issue of equality and diversity was more necessary that ever in the turbulent political climate. But the protection of diversity shouldn’t be used to totally close down ideological debate.

The Minister for Social Protection said ‘human rights and equality shouldn’t be a doctrine … [and] they are only meaningful if they impact positively’ on society.

 In the context of the US election of President Trump and his vice-President Mike Pence the minister said that ‘some believe that there should be no accommodation’ to the President elect.

 Mr Varadkar said he recognised that ‘many people are outraged at the President elect’ and his past statements on ‘women, gay people, minorities’. But he continued to say people ‘shouldn’t be afraid of engagements’ and that ‘no views are changed in echo chambers’. The Irish government minister stated the ‘best thing in my view will be to meet’ those with opposing views.   

 Speaking at the reports release college President Andrew Deeks said ‘any organisation that doesn’t enable everyone is wasting talent and holding itself back’.  

The college he outlined has an ‘ambitious set of priorities for the coming year’ on the issues. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) group will ‘have the full support of the University Management Team and the broader university community’ outlined President Deeks.

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Jack Power  | Editor