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After controversy, MacGill Summer School confirms list of names for 8th Ref and gender panels

High-profile campaigners from the Yes and No campaigns are amongst those taking part.

Pro-life campaigner Cora Sherlock will take part in the session addressing the Eighth Amendment referendum.
Pro-life campaigner Cora Sherlock will take part in the session addressing the Eighth Amendment referendum.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE MACGILL SUMMER School has confirmed its list of speakers for two events that were added to its programme in the wake of criticism over the lack of gender balance in its lineup for this year.

A photo montage of the lineup sparked controversy last month, after it was released – with critics decrying the lack of female faces, and a reliance on the ‘usual suspects’ from Irish political life and journalism.

There was further criticism of organisers for the lack of any event to mark the passing of the referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment.

Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole later decided to pull out of the Glenties-based summer school after a mix-up over a technical issue meant his name, alongside that of columnist and former political adviser Gerard Howlin, were the only two speakers included on a panel about women in public life on the summer school website.

“I am going to think very carefully but I am going to listen to people,” organiser of the Donegal event Joe Mulholland said in the wake of the initial controversy.

He said he had “tried my best – obviously my best is not good enough and obviously it’s time when I have to think about what I’m doing with this”.

The panel on women in public life, alongside one on the Eighth Amendment, were added to the schedule following the backlash.

The full list of names for those two panels has now been confirmed.

Alongside Howlin, the session entitled ‘Women in Public Life: Why are organisations such as the MacGill Summer School still trapped in a world of gender stereotypes?’ now includes:

  • Sarah Carey, broadcaster and journalist
  • Professor Linda Connolly, Director, Social Sciences Institute, NUI Maynooth
  • Peter Cosgrove, an expert on the future of work, diversity and inclusion
  • Anne Roper, documentary producer/director

It will be chaired by Sheila Pratschke, the chair of the Arts Council.

The session on the abortion referendum will include:

  • Olivia O’Leary, writer and broadcaster
  • Cora Sherlock, solicitor, pro-life campaigner
  • Pat Leahy, Political Editor of the Irish Times
  • Amy Rose Harte, Communications Manager for the Together For Yes campaign

It will be moderated by Orlaith McBride, director of the Arts Council.

The summer school runs from Sunday 22 to Friday 27 July. You can find more detail on the MacGill website.

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