Latest: MacGill Summer School to redress gender imbalance with addition of two sessions

One of the new sessions will focus on the recent referendum on the Eighth Amendment

Update 9.15pm: The director of MacGill Summer School has said that they are working to redress the gender imbalance in the MacGill 2018 programme.

In a statement released this evening by Joe Mulholland, he said that they are working to include two new sessions in this year's programme.

The move comes after the MacGill Summer School was criticised for the male-dominated panels scheduled to feature this year.

Of 56 speakers listed to talk at this year's event, 12 of them are women.

Mr Mulholland said that this falls short of "the very high standards for which MacGill has become known and which has led to audience growth year on year".

He said that women are "without question" under-represented numerically on their panels "notwithstanding the strengths and high calibre of those women who accepted our invitation to contribute".

"This is something we very much regret. In hindsight, it is reflective of an Ireland undergoing change, albeit slowly, and which still in 2018 has significant and widespread under-representation of women across many areas of public life.

We are determined, in the short period remaining before MacGill 2018 commences, to do all that we can to redress this imbalance. To this end, we are working progressively to include in the programme two new sessions.

"One will focus on the recent referendum on Repeal of the 8th Amendment.

"The other session will be tasked with cutting to the very heart of why MacGill and other organisations and public forums in Ireland have not embraced effectively gender balancing.

"To achieve this we need help and I would ask our audiences and particularly women to assist us in transforming MacGill 2018 by participating in the debates in Glenties which will help establish new foundations in our ongoing pursuit of building a better Ireland in the years ahead."

Social Democrats TDs Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall. Photo: Leah Farrell/ RollingNews.ie.

Earlier: Social Democrat TDs withdraw from MacGill Summer School over male-dominated panels

The co-leaders of the Social Democrats are withdrawing from the MacGill Summer School over male-dominated panels.

Of 56 speakers listed to talk at this year's event, 12 of them are women.

Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall say they won't take part in panels at this year’s event unless significant changes are made.

Both TDs said they were "surprised" by a comment by Joe Mulholland, director of MacGill Summer School, that it was hard to find people with the right aptitude.

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning, Ms Murphy said: "The comments that Joe Mulholland made that it's difficult to find women with the right aptitude is really quite offensive"

"Women have to be an equal part of this narrative," she said.

Mr Mulholland apologised on the same programme. He spoke of working to find other balances throughout the year, in terms of politcal and socio-economic politcial balances, and said he had "done his best".

"That [aptitude] was a totally wrong term to use and I apolgise for that and I withdraw it... maybe the right qualifications or whatever, but it's sometimes difficult."

He went on to say that the number of women on the programme does not represent the number of women invited.

"I'd hate to have to abandon the school altogether," he said.

The MacGill Summer School was founded in 1981. This year's speakers include Bertie Ahern, Stephen Donnelly, Micheál Martin, Mairead McGuinness, David Quinn and Vicky Phelan.

You can listen to the full interview here:

- Digital Desk

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