The Irish Women Workers Union

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Committee Members

Therese Caherty
Chair of the Committee

Therese Caherty is a journalist, a former member of the Irish Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists and co-convenor of Feminist Open Forum.

Mags O’Brien is a tutor in SIPTU College, a trade union activist with a keen interest in labour history, especially that of women in the trade union movement. She was one of the scriptwriters of, and acted in ‘The Obstreperous Lassies’, a play which commemorated the IWWU Laundry Workers Strike of 1945. Mags has been involved in many campaigns, from the Anti Nuclear campaign in the 70s onwards, she was chair of Divorce Action Group during the 1995 Referendum and is currently Chair of the Trade Union Friends of Palestine. As part of the Freedom Flotilla Movement she was one of the crew of the MV Saoirse that was taken captive at sea and held in an Israeli jail last November for attempting break the Israeli siege of Gaza. She is currently working on a play for the Centenary of the Lockout with the writer and historian Mairin Johnston.


A senior academic at UCD for many years, Ailbhe Smyth co-founded the Women’s Education, Research and Resource Centre (WERRC) in 1990, and was the Centre’s director until 2006. Ailbhe has been active in feminist, lesbian and gay, and radical politics since the late 1970s and currently co-convenes Feminist Open Forum and chairs the National Lesbian and Gay Federation, publisher of GCN (Gay Community News). She is also chair or a board member of various NGO and community organisations. Ailbhe now works as an educator and consultant with community and voluntary sector organisations.
Ethel Buckley is SIPTU’s National Campaigns and Equality Organiser.

Dr. Mary McAuliffe is an historian and lectures on Irish Women’s History at UCD Women’s Studies.  She is President of the Women’s History Association of Ireland. Click here to view Women’s History Association of Ireland website.

Des Derwin is a member of the Community Sector of SIPTU and of the SIPTU Dublin District Committee. He is an executive member of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions.

Alison Spillane is a co-ordinator of the Irish Feminist Network and works as a parliamentary assistant in the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Rita is from a working class family in the Liberties, Dublin. She went to the sewing factory at 14. Through the 14 years there she became active in the Trade Union Movement. She spent 11 years voluntary and 1 fulltime in the Dublin Simon Community. From here she was sponsored by good people to partake in the Community & Youth work course in NUI Maynooth. On a placement from this course, Rita came to St. Michaels Estate. 25 years later she is still in this struggle with this grassroots community and is the director of the Family Resource Centre, Women’s Community Development Project. She has travelled widely and has been involved politically in the issues effecting Central America and Cuba. For 9 years she led a protest outside of the U.S. Embassy challenging U.S. foreign policy in the said region. She is also committed to the struggle of women at grassroots level who are very much on the margins and who’s struggle on a daily basis is to survive structural poverty, last but by no means least she believes, that the struggle for justice and freedom not only embodies pain but also joy through celebrating our lives and the outcome of the struggle.

Emmet Malone is a staff journalist with the Irish Times. He is a former chair of the Dublin Freelance Branch of the NUJ and a former member of its Irish Executive Committee.