An Open Letter To His Excellency Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

To his Excellency Michael D Higgins,

My name is Linda Coogan Byrne, my colleague Áine Tyrrell has been on to you also, as we are a united front, there will be many more women sending you a similar type of call to action email. I hope, you, as a feminist understand. 

We thank you for the ethical remembering you have brought to all corners of your presidency. Michael, you are a wonderful President we can be proud of. I met you a few times in Galway when I studied Renaissance Instrument making under the apprenticeship with Master Luthier Paul Doyle way back when I was only 19. There were many nights in the old wine bar on Dominick St in Galway were politicians and artistic minds alike gathered and spoke about the Ireland we wanted to create. I was 19 and in awe. I am now 37 years old and I wish to resume this conversation. Openly, and transparently. 

You are incredibly inspirational. Your speeches are powerful and poetic and are changing the fabric of Ireland to a more empathetic and deep listening country. I was so happy when you became President as you are and always will be one of our finest members of the community. 

To quote a statement you made in 2018 “I am proud to call myself a feminist. I believe global feminism has been a transformative source of new thinking… I’m heartened to see a renewed, inclusive, confident, feminism.” 

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland

I just want you to know your words still resonates and have empowered so many women, including myself to rise up against misogynistic and sexist models that are visible in almost every corner of the globe but right now I speak of Ireland.  

Today I write to you on the injustice inflicted on our female musicians in Ireland and I am hoping that you can turn your power and poetry to something that needs urgent attention. 

You are our Feminist President and at this time we need men to help elevate our voices on some industry truths that have been muting and hurting our female musicians and as of today, only a handful of Irish men in the music industry have been brave enough to stand with us. I published a report outlining the Gender Disparity across Irish Radio stations, you can view it here:

You are a leader and we need our leader to help us. Ni Saoirse go Saoirse na mBan. I know when you read this report, that you will see this is not the type of Ireland that you want to see reflected in the time of your presidency.

As you have stated so powerfully so many times if in today’s current climate we are not seeking to INCLUDE the voices of those who have been historically silenced. We need to Re-Member our women and join them back into the conversation so that we do not just repeat the patterns of exclusion and selective history retelling. We need to do better for our future generations of women. 
Please take this letter as a request to draw your attention to THE GENDER DISPARITY ON IRISH RADIO

This report came about by my many years working in the music industry and seeing how female acts have been treated differently. I used my time in COVID to collect the data from RadioMonitor to see where the disparities were occurring. I reached out to Áine Tyrrell, RuthAnne and a handful of other Irish female musicians and asked would they all stand with me to release this report. Once the women all saw the data, they could not sit quietly anymore. It is shocking. It has not only shocked the women of the industry but the men too. You are free to read some of our countries finest male members of the music industry make statements on the findings on the report here:

At the end of this letter, I have also given you links to many of the press coverage articles in Ireland that have been so supportive of us and this movement about this issue. We celebrate Rte Radio 1 for their continued support of women and truly are honoured to know they work so hard to make sure they reach a 50/50 quota, but we are shocked to see ALL the other stations fall very short of any sort of gender equity and also the fact that only 1 member of POC or LBGTQI+ community amongst these figures male or female as well (we are hoping to release the next phase of this report soon to address these inequalities). 

Ireland is such an incredibly diverse country and the fact that so many voices are being excluded from our airwaves is very disheartening. It does not reflect who we are as a nation and definitely does not reflect the incredible wealth of female talent our country boasts. 

I know you, yourself, have invited so many Irish women to attend and sing at many of your functions at the Áras an Uachtaráin and other places abroad and I am sure it will hurt you and your wife Sabina to know that these are the women that have performed for you who struggle to make a living in our country due to the exclusion of our voices on the radio.

We have been advised that this is indeed a breach of our human rights as Irish women. This exclusion from radio breeches our right to a fair and equitable living within Ireland. I am sure you are aware that one section of the music industry affects the other and therefore our musical ecosystem in Ireland is failing women on so many other levels; with under-representation of females on festival line ups, on major labels, and booking agents.

We are committed to great change. 

We are committed to coming out of COVID with a “New Normal” on what we want our Irish Music Industry to reflect and support. 

But we need your help. We are a few Irish women from different corners of the globe fighting to make this report be the change we want to see, but we can only reach so far.  With your support, we could reach and achieve far greater.  We welcome a statement from you of any kind.  We welcome a meeting online or in-person to discuss these findings and our personal experiences.  We welcome you to engage with the conversation and help us not be the forgotten women of this decade.  We have already lost a decade of Irish women on radio and we refuse to lose another. 

The first time I met you back when I was 19 in Galway your humble power to hold court was something that at even a young age I found inspiring. As did many others. 

I know that YOU ARE THE VOICE that will help your Irish sisters on getting their songs and stories heard. You are the eloquence and power that we need. Please consider holding court for the Irish women of the music industry.

Go raibh mile maith agat, 

Le Meas, 
Linda Coogan Byrne













The Headstuff Encore podcast IV with Aine Spotify link is here: Direct link here:

IV with Linda and Riverside Radio (London)

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