Former Ireland AM host Sinéad Desmond settles gender pay gap case with Virgin Media

The anchor departed from the station, then known as TV3, back in 2017 amid reports of an alleged row with bosses over a gender pay-gap issue.
Sinéad Desmond

Sinéad Desmond

Neasa Cumiskey

Former Ireland AM presenter Sinéad Desmond has settled her gender pay dispute with Virgin Media after five years.

The case was listed in the High Court on Tuesday, however court records confirmed that it was struck out on consent, indicating a settlement, the Irish Mail on Sunday reported.

The anchor departed from the station, then known as TV3, back in 2017 amid reports of an alleged row with bosses over a gender pay-gap issue.

It is believed that there was a pay disparity between Ms Desmond and her male co-host Mark Cagney, prompting her to file a claim for constructive dismissal.

This was resisted by Virgin Media, which claimed Mr Cagney was “not an appropriate comparator” as unlike Ms Desmond he was a contractor rather than a member of staff.

The broadcasting company also maintained Mr Cagney's “star power” and “established national profile” gave him an advantage in pay negotiations.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) rejected these claims and held that Ms Desmond and Mr Cagney’s celebrity influence “were the same in practical terms”.

And, in a significant boost to Ms Desmond's case, WRC adjudicating officer Vivian Jackson found that Mr Cagney was an employee of Virgin Media in terms of the Employment Equality Acts and was a valid comparator for the purposes of her claim.

Virgin Media later challenged this decision in the High Court.

Ms Desmond joined TV3 as an employee in 2006 and worked at the station for 11 years.

The broadcaster and its sister channels rebranded as Virgin Media in 2018.

Mr Cagney departed from his presenting role on Ireland AM after two decades in 2019.


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