The Inez McCormack Fund was launched recently (Saturday, 23 March, Elmwood Hall, Belfast) at a special event to celebrate the life and work of the renowned trade unionist and human rights activist.
The Fund will support the work of the pioneering and highly commended Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR) organization, 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.
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 discussed:
“We have been honored 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 recognizing 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.”
The celebration event in Belfast was attended by over 200 guests, including Inez’s family, representatives from the trade union movement and US organization Vital Voices, established by Hillary Clinton during her time as First Lady, 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.
Inez, who passed away on 21 January 2013 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 1980s, 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 said:
“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 organizer – and in recent years a very proud grandmother”.
Marissa McMahon, a member of the Seven Towers Residents Group in North Belfast, outlined the positive impact which the Participation and the Practice of Rights (PPR)* organization 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 realize 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 honored to have worked with her and our campaign will carry on in her name.”
For more information on the Inez McCormack Fund, please visit www.pprproject.org.