The death has occurred of Sylvia Meehan, who was the first chief executive of the Employment Equality Agency and a long-standing campaigner for the rights of women and older people.

Born in 1929, Ms Meehan studied legal and political science at UCD, where she was the first woman to win the UCD Literary and Historical Association gold medal in 1951.

After her husband Denis died in 1969, she worked as a teacher at Cabinteely Community School.

She became active in the women's movement, her union the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland, and chaired the women's committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

In 1977, Ms Meehan left teaching to become the first chief executive of the Employment Equality Agency, which was established to oversee the enforcement of the Employment Equality Act.

In that role, she sponsored research into problems facing girls and women in education and employment including maternity leave and childcare.

Ms Meehan retired from the Employment Equality Agency in 1992.

But she remained active as president of the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament - an umbrella group for older people - where she continued to campaign against ageism and for inclusion of older people.

In 1997 she was awarded a doctorate by the University of Limerick.

Ms Meehan, who passed away in Galway this morning, is survived by her five children John, Niall, Sarah, Richard and Rosa and a wide circle of family and friends.

The National Women's Council of Ireland has paid tribute Ms Meehan.

In a statement, NWCI director Orla O'Connor said that she "was a trailblazer for women's equality.

"She campaigned tirelessly for the rights of women workers and older women".

Ms O'Connor said that Ms Meehan "was closely involved with NWCI in our campaign for pension rights for women affected by the marriage bar.

"Sylvia Meehan will be a great loss not only for her family but for the women's movement in Ireland," the statement concluded.