The ICTU General Secretary, Patricia King, has paid tribute to the former CEO of the Employment Equality Authority (EEA) and veteran trade unionist, Sylvia Meehan, who has died following a long illness.

Ms Meehan served as first Chairperson and as CEO of the EEA and was also a former President of the Senior Citizens Parliament.

Expressing condolences to her family, friends and many former colleagues across the trade union movement Patricia King said: “Sylvia Meehan was a towering figure in the struggle for equality in Ireland.  Her pioneering work paved the way for a generation of feminists. Sylvia believed that women must demand their place at the negotiating table and encouraged greater participation by women in the trade union movement, in civic society and in politics.

“Sylvia led by example, within her union, as Vice President of the ASTI, and as Chair of the Women's Committee of the ICTU. She was a fearless negotiator and helped shape the equality agenda despite considerable opposition from vested interest groups. At the EEA, for example, she took a strong stance in favour of LGBT rights at a time when it was not popular to do so. In recent years she was concerned with the rights of migrant workers and she was a consistent champion of travellers. Sylvia was very clear that true equality could not be one dimensional.”

She added: “It was typical of Sylvia that she never really retired and instead took on the challenge of serving as President of the Senior Citizen’s Parliament. She was especially proud to receive the Lord Mayor’s award for her work as an advocate of older people. Her death marks the passing of a remarkable woman of whom it can truly be said, ‘She made a difference’.”