University College Cork (UCC) president John O’Halloran has unveiled the UCC Rainbow Walkway on campus to mark National Coming Out Day as part of UCC Community Week.
The UCC Rainbow Walkway has been installed to celebrate and recognise the diversity of the UCC community and to express UCC’s commitment to the creation of an inclusive campus.
President O’Halloran, said that the rainbow walkway “recognises the inclusion of minority people in the physical landscape of our institution”.
“For me, this institutional recognition represented so creatively and artistically, is so much more powerful than the sum of the coloured strips which make up the walkway,” he said.
“For me, it portrays an unequivocal message to students, staff, family members, alumni, visitors and to the wider community that ours is a higher education institution that not only recognises the validity of LGBT+ lives, but celebrates their place in the academy.
“It also creatively and artistically symbolises our institution’s zero-tolerance of discrimination and marginalisation.”
The walkway was proposed by the LGBT+ Staff Network and supported by the Student LGBT+ Society, Student Union and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit.
“While we celebrate National Coming Out Day and the launch of this permanent symbol of pride on the UCC campus, it’s important for us all to reflect on how far we have come and to acknowledge that there is more work for us to do in order to build a world that is free from discrimination and marginalisation,” said Student Union president, Asha Woodhouse.
Speaking on behalf of the LGBT+ Network, Fiachra Ó’ Súilleabháin, said the walkway symbolises the progress made at UCC and nationally since the first LGBT+ staff and students groups were established in the 1980s by Cathal Kerrigan and Joan McCarthy.
“UCD and TCD subsequently followed UCC’s lead and established staff networks of their own,” he said.
“This helped promote and drive on UCC’s strategic goal of being an inclusive workplace and reflected Joan and Cathal’s life-long commitment to building an inclusive society in Ireland. This walkway is a direct result of their early activism.”