NUJ IRELAND

My report for this website on proceedings at the Biennial Delegate Meeting of the Irish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists held at Croke Park in Dublin in 2013. Cathaoirleach at the time was Gerry Curran who along with Fran McNulty of RTÉ News is one of the (jobshare) candidates in the election for two representatives of the Republic of Ireland on the new NEC starting in April.

VOTE FISHER #1

I am also a candidate along with Dara Bradley and Damien Tiernan (jobshare) and Emma O’Kelly and Saoirse McGarrigle (also jobshare). Please return your ballot paper now if you have not already done so. There is no need for a stamp: the envelope is freepost. Thanks to those who have already voted.

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran addresses the BDC  Photo: © Michael Fisher

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran addresses the BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

Conferences for the NUJ in Ireland are held every two years. The wider union is also moving to a two-year cycle for the Delegate Meeting (DM), which had already been shifted to an eighteen months interval in order to save money. The next DM will be held in Eastbourne in April 2014.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet with ICTU President John Douglas and Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet with ICTU President John Douglas and Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley Photo: © Michael Fisher

On Saturday, ICTU President John Douglas addressed the NUJ in Ireland biennial delegate conference, which was held once again in the Cusack stand conference centre at the GAA headquarters at Croke Park. Another meeting was being held on the same level in a different section further along the corridor and above the GAA Museum on the ground floor.

Michael Cusack statue & stand, Croke Park  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Michael Cusack statue & stand, Croke Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

From our vantage point we could see that repair work was continuing on the pitch to protect it during the winter. In the Hogan stand, groups were being taken on tours of the impressive stadium.

Croke Park pitch  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Croke Park pitch Photo: © Michael Fisher

The NUJ website contains some details of the proceedings. Good to see that the government has withdrawn amendments relating to the Freedom of Information legislation that would have introduced new charges.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet addressing the BDC  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet addressing the BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

The union called for immediate publication of Irish government proposals for legislation guaranteeing workers the right to collective representation and bargaining. The NUJ also called for the appointment of a Minister for labour affairs of cabinet rank in order to give greater priority to the rights of workers.

In his report to the conference, Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said the official commemoration of the 1913 Lock Out will be remembered as “a hypocritical charade”, if the government commitment to publish legislation on collective bargaining is not honoured by the end of this year. He said the inadequate protection for workers and the absence of the legal right to collective representation is a scandal which cannot be ignored. The NUJ and SIPTU, through the ICTU, are preparing a complaint to the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation on the denial of the right to representation.

ICTU President Gerry Douglas addresses NUJ BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

ICTU President John Douglas addresses NUJ BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

The report highlights the failure of successive governments to honour commitments to bring about legislative change to protect freelance workers. In the report, Séamus Dooley says:

“We consider the failure to implement the solemn commitments regarding the right of freelance workers to collective representation through amendment of Competition Law as a betrayal. It is ironic that the state should celebrate the contribution of Larkin, who organised self-employed workers, but force unions to seek relief through the ILO after more than a decade of broken promises,”

The last national agreement, Towards 2016, contains a specific commitment to reform of competition law which still has not been honoured. The union is also calling for the establishment of a minister for labour affairs of cabinet rank as a means of ensuring that employment rights are given greater priority, a call first made by the NUJ in 2007.

The NUJ conference also passed two motions dealing with the ‘JobBridge’ programme. In his report, Séamus Dooley called on the government to abandon the scheme. He said there was clear evidence that JobBridge was being used by a range of media organisations as a source of free labour.

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran received a gift of a framed cartoon. Pictured with Michelle Stanistreet  Photo: © Michael Fisher

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran received a gift of a framed cartoon. Pictured with NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet                                        Photo: © Michael Fisher

VOTE FISHER #1      NEC 2020

 

REPRESENTING THE NUJ

_20200101_1849408707635111008855041.jpgMembers of the National Union of Journalists in Ireland (Republic of) are voting in an election to select two members to represent them on the union’s National Executive Council for the next two years, starting in April.

NUJ headquarters sent out an email on 19th December on behalf of the seven people, all union activists, putting themselves forward in the ballot:

Dara Bradley & Damien Tiernan (Job-share); Gerry Curran & Fran McNulty (Job-share); Michael Fisher, and Emma O Kelly & Saoirse McGarrigle (Job-Share). The views expressed in the campaign material are those of the candidates and not necessarily those of the Union and as such, the National Union of Journalists does not accept liability.

MICHAEL FISHER

 VOTE FISHER #1

There are a number of reasons I am seeking your no.1 vote and to represent you for another term on the National Executive Council (NEC). 

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING

First, the future of public service broadcasting. At our recent Biennial Delegate Conference in Dublin, a campaign was launched, “It’s your RTÉ: Save it! Sabháil RTÉ: Is leatsa é!” I was pleased to support the campaign along with some of my former RTÉ colleagues who were being awarded NUJ life membership. I was among the speakers at Conference criticising successive governments that have refused to provide adequate funding for RTÉ by reforming the licence fee. RTÉ management has failed to present a realistic, strategic plan for the organisation. . 

FUTURE OF THE UNION

There is an urgent need to examine closely the union’s finances. The NEC Finance Committee of which I am a member has considered proposals, which I have commented on at meetings and supported. If the union is to remain an independent voice for journalism rather than be merged with a larger union, members must now take urgent action and decide on an increase in union subscriptions. 

REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS 

As a journalist with a Co. Monaghan paper, I continue to represent my colleagues at chapel level. I served on the Irish Executive Council (IEC) representing regional newspapers 2017-19. The union objected to the proposed acquisition of Celtic Media by Independent News and Media. I made a submission to the Broadcasting Authority, stressing the importance of diversity of ownership. At the IEC biennial delegate conference (BDC) in November 2017 I spoke on reports that the businessman Denis O’Brien of Independent News and Media (INM) was attempting to take over Celtic Media Group (regional newspaper company). I said there must be a limit to which the likes of Denis O’Brien could go. “Local newspapers are at the heart of communities, reporting sports, courts and council matters. The whole future of this coverage is at threat because of ownership structures and that is why we need changes to the current (Irish) competition legislation.”

MEDIA FREEDOM 

Following the killing of Lyra McKee I attended vigils in Derry and Dungannon and helped organise an NUJ tribute at her funeral in Belfast. A few weeks later, I took part in the annual Irish Congress of Trade Unions May Day parade in Belfast. This year I acted as a steward. It was a very poignant occasion as the NUJ was given pride of position at the head of the parade carrying pictures in tribute to Lyra, who was shot dead in Derry during rioting. 

The previous day, UN World Press Freedom Day, Belfast and District Branch organised an important conference in conjunction with the United Nations Association (Northern Ireland) on safety for journalists, which I spoke at. 

As a member of the NEC Finance Committee I commended the legal officer’s work to support investigative journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney in the aftermath of police raids on their homes and office arising from their documentary “No Stone Unturned”. The Belfast High Court decision quashing warrants for their arrest was a significant vindication of the NUJ Code of Conduct. They continue to need our support. 

UNION OFFICES 

I am Chair of Irish Eastern Branch and currently represent the NEC on the Irish Executive Council, of which I am a former Cathaoirleach. Since joining the London Radio Branch in 1974, I have held chapel and branch offices in Birmingham, Dublin, Belfast, Monaghan and am now a life member. 

I attended and participated in Delegate Meetings on various occasions since Glasgow in 1989. Other offices held include Chair of the IEC Northern Ireland sub committee 2009-2014 and NI representative on the Council. I have served on the Broadcasting Industrial Council, Ethics Council, and was a member of the Appeals Tribunal 2016-18. 

VOTE FISHER #1 

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NEC REPORT

MFUNDAY

Michael Fisher of the NUJ (NEC member for Republic of Ireland) addressing a meeting in Belfast to mark United Nations World Press Freedom Day organised jointly with the UN Association of Northern Ireland entitled “The Media and Democracy – why journalism matters.”                     Photo © Kevin Cooper

Republic of Ireland – 2 Seats

In the election for two seats representing the Republic of Ireland on the National Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) I am seeking a fresh mandate for a new term, beginning in April.

VOTE FISHER #1.      

By now you should have received a ballot paper. Please make sure you fill it in, if you have not already done so, and return it in the reply paid envelope to the election scrutineers in London. Thank you for your support if you have voted.

This is a PR-type election with voters asked to mark 1,2,3,4 in order of their choice. The other three candidates are all job shares (six other union activists). You should have received a statement from all the candidates along with the ballot paper, as well as an email sent out by the NUJ just before Christmas.

For the record, I enclose a copy of my summary of activities as an NEC representative that will be punished in the NUJ annual report at the Delegate Meeting in Southport in April.

  • During my term on the NEC I also served on the Irish Executive Council representing the regional newspapers sector 2018-19. In April 2018 when my two-year term on the NEC began, the NUJ called on the Minister for Communications for clarification following a report that Denis O’Brien and Independent News & Media (INM) were given advance knowledge of the minister’s views on INM’s plan to buy Celtic Media Plc. The NUJ objected to the proposed acquisition and made a submission to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and the Oireachtas hearing on this issue.
  • As a local journalist I continued to represent my colleagues on chapel matters. In December 2018 I signed the campaign “Reverse journalist cuts at Newsquest” in solidarity with members at local newspapers in Cumbria.
  • Following the tragic killing of freelance journalist, Lyra McKee, in April 2019 I attended a commemoration in Derry organised by the local branch and a vigil in Dungannon. At her funeral I helped organise an NUJ guard of honour at the end of the service.
  • A few weeks later, I took part in the annual Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ May Day parade in Belfast. This year I acted as a steward. It was a very poignant occasion as the NUJ was given pride of position at the head of the parade carrying pictures in tribute to Lyra, who was shot dead in Derry by a dissident republican group during rioting. Irish Secretary, Séamus Dooley, addressed the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) rally. He reaffirmed the union’s call for justice in the cases of Lyra and of another Belfast NUJ member, Martin O’Hagan, shot dead in 2001.
  • The previous day, UN World Press Freedom Day, Belfast and District Branch organised an important conference in conjunction with the United Nations Association (Northern Ireland) on safety for journalists, attended by Jim Boumelha of the International Federation of Journalists. Producer and director, Trevor Birney, addressed the conference and the NUJ assured him and his colleague Barry McCaffrey of support over the way the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had seized their material, including personal possessions, in connection with their controversial documentary No Stone Unturned.
  • As a member of the NEC Finance Committee I supported the legal officer’s work to ensure that appropriate financial support was approved for legal challenges that resulted in the PSNI being instructed to hand back material when, along with Derbyshire police, they dropped their investigation into allegations of criminal behavior against Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.
  • This was a significant vindication of the NUJ stance and also reminded us of the value of union membership. In November I joined the NUJ protest in Belfast to support both journalists when they appeared at the High Court in an attempt to finalise the deletion of computer data seized and automatically copied by the PSNI. Former Brexit Secretary, David Davis MP, was also there to support our members.

    Picket

    Michael Fisher (second right) outside the High Court in Belfast with NUJ members from Belfast Branch and Derry and District Branch supporting Trevor McBirney and Barry McCaffrey.

  • At the IEC biennial delegate conference (BDC) in November 2017 I was pleased to see life membership awarded to a work colleague from Irish Eastern Branch. Speaking at BDC on reports that the businessman Denis O’Brien of INM was attempting to take over regional newspaper company, Celtic Media Group), I said there must be a limit to which the likes of Denis O’Brien could go. “Local newspapers are at the heart of communities, reporting sports, courts and council matters. The whole future of this coverage is at threat because of ownership structures and that is why we need changes to the current (Irish) competition legislation.”
  • At the BDC in November 2019 the main issue was the state of RTÉ and the lack of government action over the licence fee. I addressed conference on this issue as well as a number of other subjects. The NUJ has launched a campaign “RTÉ: it’s yours! Save it!” which I will be supporting, along with some of my former RTÉ colleagues who received life membership awards.

Michael Fisher – NEC Republic of Ireland Seat

 

 

LIAM CLARKE

LIAMCLARKE

The late Liam Clarke

Sudden death is always difficult for relatives to come to terms with. Liam Clarke had made known his illness (a rare form of stomach cancer) but it was nevertheless a shock to hear that he had passed away peacefully at his home in Ballymena in the early hours of Sunday 27th December just after Christmas. Condolences to his wife Kathryn, his three children and extended family members.

Liam was a practising Zen Buddhist and in June 2014 when he wrote in the Belfast Telegraph about being diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei he said: “the beauty of life in the face of death is a very Zen concept. Every moment should be lived as if it was our last – as it could be. It isn’t a delay to be endured while waiting for something better, it is complete in itself.”

The funeral service took place in Roselawn Crematorium outside Belfast on Tuesday afternoon, as reported in the News Letter. Yesterday there was a simple Zen Buddhist service at his home, led by Ingen K. Breen.

Liam was one of the best-known journalists in Ireland. His most recent position was as political editor of the Belfast Telegraph, which he took up in 2011. He had previously worked for the Sunday Times as its Northern Ireland editor for twenty years before becoming a columnist for the paper. In 2014, he was named journalist of the year by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

The Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Seamus Dooley said: “I would like to extend sympathy to the family, colleagues and friends of Liam Clarke Political Editor, The Belfast Telegraph and a former officer of Belfast and district branch of the NUJ, who has died.”

“Liam was a fearless journalist. He was never afraid to challenge authority and was always prepared to stand up for the principle of media freedom. In the Sunday Times and, more recently in the Belfast Telegraph he covered some of the most significant events in the history of Northern Ireland.”

“As a columnist he was  insightful, authoritative and, at times provocative. He commanded respect across the political divide and his death is a loss to journalism in Northern Ireland.”

The editor of the Belfast Telegraph, Gail Walker, said Mr Clarke had been the pre-eminent political journalist of his generation.

“Just a few days ago, Liam delivered what was to sadly prove his last big exclusive, a brilliant in-depth interview with first minister-in-waiting Arlene Foster. Liam told me how much he’d enjoyed the encounter and I know he got a great buzz from landing yet another scoop”, she said.

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said her thoughts and prayers were with Mr Clarke’s family.

“As a journalist Liam had an ability to cut through all the padding and get right to the core of a story. He will be missed by us as politicians, but of course our grief is overshadowed by that of his family whom he loved dearly and often spoke”, she said.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, the deputy First Minister, said he was sorry to learn of Mr Clarke’s passing. Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said Mr Clarke had been a household name for many.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr Clarke was a good journalist and a good man. “Liam Clarke is one of the most recognisable names in Irish journalism,” he said.

“That’s due not only to his distinguished career and remarkable work ethic, but to his warm character and his good nature. Never one to give any politician an easy ride, Liam’s enduring professional qualities were his straight-talking style and his dogged determination”, he said.

The Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt, a former broadcasting journalist, said he was “stunned and deeply saddened” by Mr Clarke’s death. He said Liam was hugely professional, always probing and persistent, yet also totally trustworthy.

“He was someone worth reading, listening to and following. News journalists do a job that some people do not always like, so the journalist’s ambition must be to earn respect, which is quite a challenge in a divided society like ours. Liam won that universal respect, deservedly so”, Mr Nesbitt said.

Rest in Peace.

The Monaghan Connection

CLARKEPIPER

William Clarke, Ballybay Piper

Liam explored his family history and wrote about his grandfather from County Monaghan, William Clarke, known as the Ballybay Piper because of his skills as a musician playing the uilleann pipes. Local historian the late Peadar Murnane wrote about William in an article published six years ago by the Ireland Newsletter:

==================================

WILLIAM CLARKE, THE BALLYBAY PIPER

by Peadar Murnane

===================================

The son of a third generation Scottish Presbyterian family who settled in Cornahoe, near Ballybay, County Monaghan where Robert William Clarke was born on 29th. October 1889. The family moved to thetownland of Carga and later to Dunmaurice where the family was reared. The probability is that they all attended the National School at Cornanure until they were old enough to walk to the town school in Hall Street. At this time Cornanure was an interdenominational school. Although the only son and the one best entitled to inherit and work the farm, young Willie opted for a less laborious and more interesting occupation.

On leaving school, he ‘went to serve his time’ to the Ballybay jeweller and watchmaker, Patrick Duffy. He finished his apprenticeship with Mercers of Enniskillen and returned to Ballybay to commence business in Main St. in premises formerly occupied by Marcella Brown. He married Margaret Johnston from Clontibret and they had a family of two boys, Thomas and William and a daughter, Nancy. Thomas (Tom) joined the RAF during World War Two and was killed in action. William (Willie) is a Minister of the Presbyterian Church, now retired in Eglinton, Co. Derry [Liam’s father]. Nancy is married and lives in England.

There was no musical tradition in the Dunmaurice Clarkes but when young Willie by chance met up with ‘The Piper Ward’ from Oghill, his latent talent soon surfaced. Ward introduced Clarke to the Uilleann pipes and Highland Bagpipes and gave him a sound grinding on the rudiments of both instruments and taught him the skills of reading and writing music. Pipe bands and fife and drum bands were a common feature of parish life in Co. Monaghan in the early 1900’s. The Orange Lodges, the Hibernians, the Foresters, Land Leaguers and Home Rulers sustained their faith and enthusiasm through their bands and banners. Willie Clarke was responsible for the formation of the Ballybay Pipe Band in 1919. He brought the recruits together, trained them and raised funds to procure instruments and uniforms. One of their first public appearances was at the Peace Celebrations held in Leslie Demesne (Ballybay) in August 1919. Their band room was in Church St., opposite the old National School which later became their headquarters. This was also the meeting place of the local Orange Lodge No. 211. It was inevitable that an amalgamation would take place. Not every member of the band was an Orangeman. Many like Fred Braden, were members of the band for the sheer love of pipe music. Fred was a Methodist.

It was very appropriate that when Willie Clarke died in 1934 the name of the band was changed to the “William Clarke Memorial Pipe Band”. During his short life, Willie soon attracted the company of such noted Uilleann and Warpipe players as the Carolans of Dopey Mills, near Newbliss; Michael Keenan of Glassleck, near Shercock; Philip Martin of Kilturk, near Newtownbutler who used to cycle to Ballybay for piping sessions with Clarke and the Moorheads from Doohamlet.

Robert William Clarke died in 1934 aged 45. His remains lie buried in the graveyard of Second Ballybay Presbyterian Church.

Peadar Murnane, local historian, Ballybay.

NUJ LIFE MEMBERS BELFAST

Michael Fisher presented with NUJ life membership by Seamus Dooley  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

Michael Fisher presented with NUJ life membership by Seamus Dooley Photo: © Kevin Cooper

At a meeting organised by the Belfast and District Branch of the National Union of Journalists a number of reporters and a photographer were awarded life membership of the union, having belonged to the NUJ for over forty years. I was presented with my certificate by the Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley and somehow I managed to receive two of them! Seamus pointed out that my father Des is also a long-time NUJ member (he helped to start the Irish South Eastern Branch when he started work in Carlow) as is my sister Carolyn who also worked in RTÉ.

Michael Fisher presented with 1913 lockout centenary coin by Gerry Curran  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

Michael Fisher presented with 1913 lockout centenary coin by Gerry Curran Photo: © Kevin Cooper

The Cathaoirleach of the Irish Executive Council Gerry Curran presented me with a limited edition coin, issued last year to mark the centenary of the 1913 lockout in Dublin, which I was very proud to receive in recognition of my contribution to the NUJ in Ireland and Britain. I joined the union in July 1974, becoming a member of the London Radio Branch when I worked in the BBC Radio Newsroom at Broadcasting House as a News Trainee. I later joined the Birmingham Branch when I moved to the West Midlands in 1975. I then joined Dublin Broadcasting Branch on taking up a position with RTÉ News in Dublin in January 1979. I transferred to Belfast in August 1984, becoming a member of Northern Ireland Broadcasting Branch, subsequently amalgamated with Belfast and District.

NUJ life member Michael Fisher with former RTÉ News cameraman Bryan Drysdale  Photo:  © Kevin Cooper

NUJ life member Michael Fisher with former RTÉ News cameraman Bryan Drysdale Photo: © Kevin Cooper

I remember the Broadcasting Branch Treasurer at the time was Austin Hunter of BBC Northern Ireland. He has also been awarded life membership (44 years a member), along with two of his former BBC colleagues, David Lynas and Noel McCartney. Noel who received his certificate two years ago and had served on the union’s National Executive Council, was congratulated on the achievement by Gerry Curran.

NUJLOGOA fifth life membership goes to photographer Alan Lewis, a familiar figure in Belfast media circles. He joined the NUJ 42 years ago. He received his certificate from the President of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Boumelha, another NUJ stalwart.

GLOBAL DANGERS TO JOURNALISTS

NUJ Belfast & District Branch Chair Bob Miller opens the seminar  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ Belfast & District Branch Chair Bob Miller opens the seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ Belfast and District Branch held a seminar at the Linenhall Library Belfast on global dangers to journalists. The President of the International Federation of Journalists Jim Boumelha was among the speakers. Local photographer and NUJ member of honour Kevin Cooper spoke about dangers for journalists in Northern Ireland. Another branch member photographer Sarah Hunter spoke about her experiences in Somalia and introduced a Somali journalist and asylum seeker. Ciaran Ó Maolain also addressed the gathering. Afterwards I introduced a round table discussion with the speakers about human rights issues of concern to journalists.

NUJ Photographer Kevin Cooper addresses seminar  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ Photographer Kevin Cooper addresses seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

Stressing the importance of the union’s Code of Conduct Kevin Cooper said his guidelines were to be true to yourself and be prepared to stand up on issues of concern. He said journalists had a right to do their work unhindered. Despite the peace process, some journalists in Northern Ireland were working under threat, he said.

Photographer Sarah Hunter, another member of the Belfast and District Branch, spoke about the dangers to journalists in Somalia, where she has done work for various NGOs.

Photographer Sarah Hunter addresses seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

Photographer Sarah Hunter addresses seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

Ciaran Ó Maolain speaking at the NUJ seminar  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Ciaran Ó Maolain speaking at the NUJ seminar Photo: © Michael Fisher

IFJ President Jim Boumelha Photo: © Michael Fisher

IFJ President Jim Boumelha Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ IRELAND BDC

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran addresses the BDC  Photo: © Michael Fisher

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran addresses the BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

Conferences for the NUJ in Ireland are held every two years. The wider union is also moving to a two-year cycle for the Delegate Meeting, which had already been shifted to an eighteen months interval in order to save money. The next DM will be held in Eastbourne in April and motions for it need to be submitted to our branch meeting by midday on Friday week (22nd November). Please contact Branch Secretary Gerry Carson.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet with ICTU President John Douglas and Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet with ICTU President John Douglas and Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley Photo: © Michael Fisher

On Saturday, ICTU President John Douglas addressed the NUJ in Ireland biennial delegate conference, which was held once again in the Cusack stand conference centre at the GAA headquarters at Croke Park. Another meeting was being held on the same level in a different section further along the corridor and above the GAA Museum on the ground floor.

Michael Cusack statue & stand, Croke Park  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Michael Cusack statue & stand, Croke Park Photo: © Michael Fisher

From our vantage point we could see that repair work was continuing on the pitch to protect it during the winter. In the Hogan stand, groups were being taken on tours of the impressive stadium.

Croke Park pitch  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Croke Park pitch Photo: © Michael Fisher

The NUJ website contains some details of the proceedings. Good to see that the government has withdrawn amendments relating to the Freedom of Information legislation that would have introduced new charges.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet addressing the BDC  Photo: © Michael Fisher

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet addressing the BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

The union called for immediate publication of Irish government proposals for legislation guaranteeing workers the right to collective representation and bargaining. The NUJ also called for the appointment of a Minister for labour affairs of cabinet rank in order to give greater priority to the rights of workers.

In his report to the conference, Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said the official commemoration of the 1913 Lock Out will be remembered as “a hypocritical charade”, if the government commitment to publish legislation on collective bargaining is not honoured by the end of this year. He said the inadequate protection for workers and the absence of the legal right to collective representation is a scandal which cannot be ignored. The NUJ and SIPTU, through the ICTU, are preparing a complaint to the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation on the denial of the right to representation.

ICTU President Gerry Douglas addresses NUJ BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

ICTU President John Douglas addresses NUJ BDC Photo: © Michael Fisher

The report highlights the failure of successive governments to honour commitments to bring about legislative change to protect freelance workers. In the report, Séamus Dooley says:

“We consider the failure to implement the solemn commitments regarding the right of freelance workers to collective representation through amendment of Competition Law as a betrayal. It is ironic that the state should celebrate the contribution of Larkin, who organised self-employed workers, but force unions to seek relief through the ILO after more than a decade of broken promises,”

The last national agreement, Towards 2016, contains a specific commitment to reform of competition law which still has not been honoured. The union is also calling for the establishment of a minister for labour affairs of cabinet rank as a means of ensuring that employment rights are given greater priority, a call first made by the NUJ in 2007.

The NUJ conference also passed two motions dealing with the ‘JobBridge’ programme. In his report, Séamus Dooley called on the government to abandon the scheme. He said there was clear evidence that JobBridge was being used by a range of media organisations as a source of free labour.

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran received a gift of a framed cartoon. Pictured with Michelle Stanistreet  Photo: © Michael Fisher

IEC Cathaoirleach Gerry Curran received a gift of a framed cartoon. Pictured with Michelle Stanistreet Photo: © Michael Fisher