Belfast Telegraph

Inez’s name goes up in the bright lights

By Nicci Gregg

A woman who has worked in north Belfast for 20 years will have her courageous story told in the Big Apple as Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep prepares to portray her on the stage.

The work of Inez McCormack (pictured), a well known trade union, women’s and human rights activist in Ireland, will be brought to life in New York on Friday the opening night of The Daily Beast’s Women in the World three day summit in New York’s Hudson Theatre.

Meryl will appear in an ensemble reading of a ground-breaking documentary play, SEVEN, which captures the important work and remarkable lives of a diverse group of women leaders around the world, including Inez.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Inez said: “It is very humbling to have your life story represented in this way and a privilege to have an Oscar-winning actress and strong female character like Meryl Streep involved in the dramatisation.

“I have had the privilege of spending a lifetime at the service of warm strong women, who challenged injustice not just for themselves but for the people and communities they cared for and whose only affirmation has been that of their own conscience.”

Inez became active in the Northern Ireland civil rights movement in the late 60s. She then became a trade union and equality activist, campaigning to organise and revalue the work and contribution of the forgotten workers, most of whom were women.

Inez also led major campaigns for strong equality laws and to assert the rights of the most disadvantaged.

In 1998, she led a successful campaign for such inclusive equality and human rights provisions to be included in the Good Friday Agreement.

Today, Inez is still active in the local community. She currently chairs the Participation and the Practice of Rights project, which provides local disadvantaged communities on all parts of Ireland support in using a human rights-based approach to address the social and economic inequalities they face.

Inez was the first woman President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and is a member of the Vital Voices Global Advisory Network. In 2002 she was honoured by Vital Voices with their Global Leadership Award. In 2008 she was named NI Women of the Year for her services to women, human rights and communities.

The SEVEN play was developed several years ago by Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international women’s non-governmental organisation based in Washington DC, that identifies, trains and connects emerging women leaders around the world.

The organisation commissioned seven award-winning playwrights to tell the inspiring personal stories of Inez and six other women who have triumphed over enormous obstacles to bring major changes in their home countries.

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