11 July 2002 Edition

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Mick O'Reilly fights back

The highly respected Irish trade union leader Mick O'Reilly and his colleague Eugene McGlone are fighting back against their dismissal following a protracted attempted purge against them by the leader of the ATGWU, Bill Morris. The London-based leadership of the union removed O'Reilly as Irish Regional Secretary – the senior official in Ireland (32 Counties) – and Eugene McGlone, Irish Regional Organiser.

As An Phoblacht goes to press, the two trade unionists are in the throes of their final internal appeal hearing within the ATGWU, but they have already won a huge moral victory with Irish trade unionists rallying to support them and ATGWU officials voting to take strike action in protest at their sacking. At a crowded public meeting in Dublin's Wynn's Hotel on 4 July, O'Reilly and McGlone outlined the extraordinary chain of events that led to their suspension and then their dismissal. This was accompanied by a smear campaign in sections of the media.

A vocal critic of the ‘social partnership' process, O'Reilly consistently broke the cosy consensus between government, employers' body IBEC and large sections of the Irish trade union leadership. He also opposed the Nice Treaty and provided a platform for real debate about political and trade union issues. The meeting last Thursday heard that these political considerations weighed heavily in the internal leadership ‘heave' against O'Reilly and McGlone.

O'Reilly told the meeting that following their suspension in June 2001, he and McGlone were presented with the charges against them which he described as "merely previous correspondence passed between the General Secretary Bill Morris and myself" but also contained "pernicious character assassinations". The charges have been fought through 13 internal appeal hearings and both O'Reilly and McGlone assert that nothing substantive has been presented in evidence against them. Throughout the process, the Morris leadership has attempted to silence the two men and stifle any discussion of their case within the union.

Mick O'Reilly told An Phoblacht that the Morris leadership had acted in contravention of the Constitution of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which maintains the independence of Irish trade unionists in industrial and political matters. He vowed to battle on in defence of democracy within the ATGWU and of independent trade unionism.


For further information see the website – www.shaftingtheatgwu.org


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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