The Inez McCormack Fund in memory of the renowned Derry trade unionist and human rights activist is being launched this afternoon (Sat) at a special event in the Elmwood Hall in Belfast.
The Fund will support the work of the pioneering and highly commended Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) organisation, which was established by Inez in 2006. PPR provides support to local disadvantaged communities and groups in using a rights-based approach to change the social and economic inequalities and deprivation they face.
The celebration event will be attended by over 200 guests, including Inez’s family, representatives from the trade union movement and a number of dignitaries such as Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and recently appointed UN Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
Triple Academy award-winning actress Meryl Streep who portrayed Inez in the documentary play SEVEN, which tells the personal stories of Inez and six other women who triumphed over enormous obstacles to create major positive change in their home countries, will also pay tribute to Inez at the Newsweek and Daily Beast’s 2013 Women in the World Summit in New York on Thursday 4 April.
Ms Streep has also made a significant donation to the Inez McCormack Fund.
Nicola Browne, Director (Policy) of PPR discusses: “We have been honoured to receive a significant donation to the Inez McCormack Fund from Meryl Streep, alongside a series of other generous donations from supporters of Inez’s work. Inez’s life revolved around recognising the dignity of those who were more accustomed to being sidelined and ignored. The Inez McCormack Fund will support PPR in its work to give voice to those who, 15 years after the Good Friday Agreement, are still excluded from the benefits of the peace.”
Inez, who passed away on 21 January, following a short illness, was the first female President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. An unrelenting activist for the equality provisions outlined in the Good Friday Agreement, in the 1980’s, Inez was also a signatory to the historic MacBride Principles, a corporate code of conduct for US companies investing in Northern Ireland which demanded outcomes to address religious inequality in employment.
In 2011, Inez was named by US publication Newsweek as one of ‘150 Women Who Shake the World’ – a recognition of her work to improve the quality of women’s lives through human rights values.
Discussing the impact which Inez made, Mary Robinson says:“Inez was many things to many people, and to me her defining characteristic was her innate sense and belief in the dignity and value of every human being. She always challenged what was wrong and worked to secure the rights of people; on many occasions this was without any public recognition as Inez was a very private person.
“A remarkable woman she was fundamentally an extraordinary organiser – and in recent years a very proud grandmother”.
Marissa McMahon, a member of the Seven Towers Residents Group in North Belfast, has been speaking of the positive impact which the Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR)* organisation has had on her life.
“I first heard Inez speak at a lecture in St. Mary’s Training College, and I was in awe. How could one person make such a big difference? When I started campaigning with the Seven Towers Residents Group, she made me realise the importance of people’s voices being heard by those in power. If I encounter difficulties at any stage, I think ‘If Inez had given up, where would women and workers be now?’ I feel truly honoured to have worked with her and our campaign will carry on in her name.”