Women Changing Law, Changing Society

Posted on: 11 May 2015

The feminist activist who brought about the end to men-only juries in Ireland was among speakers at a legal seminar on women’s rights and legal change held in the Swift Theatre, Trinity College Dublin on Friday, May 8th.

The 'Women Changing Law, Changing Society' seminar focused on legal cases that have brought about social change for women in Ireland. At the event Máirín de Burca spoke about her landmark case against the Attorney General in 1975 that resulted in the introduction of the Juries Act which reversed legislation from the 1920s that excluded female jurors.

Other speakers at the seminar included Professor Aileen McColgan, King’s College London; Orla O’Connor, Director NWCI; Mary O’Toole, Senior Counsel; Professor Yvonne Scannell, Fellow Emeritus, Trinity; and Dr Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington, NUIG. Speakers at the event explored both the experience of taking cases, and the impact that these cases have had.

Speakers at the "Women Changing Law, Changing Society" seminarThe event is the first in a series of seminars entitled 'Changing Ireland, Changing Law' which will explore the role public interest litigation has had on social change in Ireland. The seminar series forms part of a research project being undertaken by Trinity's School of Law in conjunction with the School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences in Dublin Institute of Technology.

The project is being led by Dr Mary Rogan, Head of Law, Dublin Institute of Technology and Professor Ivana Bacik, Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Trinity, and is funded by the Irish Research Council, along with additional contribution from the Trinity College Dublin Equality Fund and Arts & Social Sciences Benefactions Fund.

Professor Bacik commented: "The 'Changing Ireland, Changing Law' research project will examine the impact which public interest litigation has had upon the achievement of social change in Ireland. Friday's seminar will examine the effect of litigation upon women's rights. Other seminars in the series will focus upon the development of LGBT rights, rights of migrants and public interest litigation more generally. We are delighted to work with our NGO partners PILA, GLEN, NWCI, and the Immigrant Council of Ireland on this important research."

Future events in the seminar series:

  • Seminar on sexuality and legal change, Thursday 25th June, Trinity College Dublin
  • Seminar on ethnicity and legal change, Friday 18th September, Dublin Institute of Technology   
  • Seminar on public service litigation, Friday 16th October, Dublin Institute of Technology 

Media Contact:

Fiona Tyrrell, Media Relations Officer | tyrrellf@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 3551