State Papers: Ruairí Quinn’s study of pay and gender equality

References to initiative within Department of Labour removed from letter to chief whip

Ruairí Quinn undertook an equality programme aimed at removing barriers to the progress of women staff in his then Department of Labour in 1985.

However, a reference to the initiative was removed from a letter the then minister had drafted to then government chief whip Sean Barrett, with Quinn’s agreement.

Quinn wrote to Barrett about the government’s 1984 decision on the achievement of employment equality between men and women in State-sponsored bodies.

“It was my view that it would be entirely inconsistent to seek to oblige State-sponsored bodies to include an equality of opportunity programme as a specific item of personnel policy if a similar programme did not operate in my own Department,” Quinn wrote.


“Therefore, some months ago I initiated an exercise to compile a profile of grade placements and upward mobility within the Department of Labour. The purpose of the exercise was to identify constraints to the achievement of equal opportunity for women in the Department and to design mechanisms to eliminate such constraints.

“Analysis of the profile data is proceeding. I expect to be in a position to outline the details of an equality programme to the staff of my Department in the near future.”

A civil servant proposed the four paragraphs quoted be omitted from the letter to Barrett, which related to representations the Dún Laoghaire TD had received from the Federated Workers’ Union of Ireland.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Features Editor of The Irish Times