ATGWU honours Merrigan
Family, friends and comrades of the late trade union leader Matt Merrigan, who died earlier this year, gathered at the head office of the ATGWU in Dublin last Friday night to celebrate his legacy and to rename the union's hall in his honour.
Merrigan was secretary of the ATGWU in Ireland for 27 years, and also swerved as president of the ICTU and was a force behind the formation of the Senior Citizens' Parliament.
Among those who spoke were current ATGWU secretary Mick Reilly, former ATGWU general secretary Jack Jones, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, Catherine Rose of Age and Opportunity, and Jimmy Kelly, ATGWU representative from Waterford.
Mick O'Reilly paid tribute to merrigan's ideas, commitment and principles. ``He may have had little, but he was much,'' he said. ``He said what he thought, stood up for his ideas, and he apologised to no one for his ideas.'' He also noted Merrigan's republicanism, recalling that he was the only ICTU president to mention the national question in his address to Congreee, a speech famously not covered by the Irish media. He praised Merrigan's commitment to dialogue and politics as a way of moving the situation forward. ``He was a forerunner of the peace process at a time when it was difficult and dangerous to speak out.''
Gerry Adams recalled that in times of hardship for the beleagured nationalists of the North, Matt Merrigan was always there. Despite the atmosphere of censorship and fear that prevailed, he was unafraid to speak out on issues like the H Blocks and Armagh, for instance, and campaigned ceaselessly on behalf of the hunger strikers in 1981.
``I liked him because the things he stood for needed that idealism, that courage to stand out,'' said Adams. ``He was an internationalist in his outlook, a Connolly socialist in the true sense.''
A likeness of Matt Merrigan in glass, handcrafted by Waterford Glass workers, was unveiled by Matt's daughter, Olga.