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Obituary: Gerry Quigley

Published 23/12/2003

THE death has taken place of Gerry Quigley, one of the foremost Irish trade union leaders of the post second world war period.

THE death has taken place of Gerry Quigley, one of the foremost Irish trade union leaders of the post second world war period.

Born in Virginia Street, off Donegall Pass in Belfast, Gerry trained as a primary teacher and taught in Slate Street PS, Belfast, before being appointed Northern Secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation in 1954 at the age of 26 - a post he held until 1978 - and it fell to Gerry to rebuild the union organisation in Northern Ireland.

As a student in St Joseph's Training College, Gerry met his future wife Kathleen who was also a student teacher. Last year they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Gerry was Northern Secretary from 1954 to 1978. He led INTO to some remarkable achievements. These included:

Securing equal pay for women teachers in 1955;

Ending the marriage bar for women in Northern Ireland Catholic Maintained Schools in 1959. .

Securing for Northern Ireland teachers "Burnham Equivalence" whereby salaries would be related to salaries of those in England and Wales.

Making a major contribution to local government re-organisation in the McCrory Report of 1973

In 1978 Gerry was elected General Secretary of INTO, which he restructured and modernised.

Although a time of economic recession Gerry successfully led a number of campaigns for salary increases for teachers and social change in education.

Gerry was highly regarded in the wider trade union movement and was chairperson of the Northern Ireland Committee and later President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

He led delegations of Belfast shipyard workers to Downing Street, worked on the drafting of the Fair Employment and Equal Opportunities laws and as ICTU president, successfully concluded one of the major Partnership Pay Deals with the Government of the Republic which signposted the emergence of the modern Irish economic recovery.

He was a brilliant trade union strategist and negotiator and will long be remembered for his outstanding achievements.

His wife Kathleen, sons, Ciaran, Declan, Conor and Garrett, daughter Paula and wider family circle, survive Gerry.

Belfast Telegraph

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