Northern Ireland

Irish government funds John Quinn memorial at Milltown cemetery

Milltown cemetery
Image caption The headstone would be put up in Milltown cemetery in west Belfast

The Irish government will part-fund a memorial to John Quinn, one of the proposers of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).

Mr Quinn, who died in 1935, is buried in an unmarked grave at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast.

A docker by trade, he was also a key player in the union movement alongside Jim Larkin and James Connolly.

It is expected that the new headstone memorial will be unveiled at the cemetery during a ceremony in December.

John Quinn's family have said they are delighted at the news the memorial has received funding.

Belfast dockers

John's granddaughter is the actress Patricia Quinn, who played Magenta in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and his great-grandson is Johnny Quinn, the drummer of band Snow Patrol.

They have both been part of the campaign to get John recognised.

Image caption John Quinn pictured with daughter Nora outside his house on North Thomas Street.

The memorial has been funded by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs following an application from the Shared History Interpretive Project (SHIP) to their DFAT Reconciliation Fund.

They are making a contribution of about 2,000 euros (£1,675) to the project.

Kieran Quinn from the SHIP said: "John dedicated as much time as possible to improve basic working and living conditions of his fellow workers and neighbours.

"He played a pivotal role in the union politics of that era that resulted in Belfast Dockers refusing to recognise the National Union of Dockworkers and instead supporting the establishment of the ITGWU.

"During general dock history research that SHIP started carrying out since 2007 we became aware of John and his activities and his family history."

He added: "On discovering about John's comradeship with Winifred Carney, James Connolly and Jim Larkin and his political and union activities, we had no hesitation in dedicating one our 35 tribute banners to John's memory.

"Since then, after more research, we found out that John and some of his kids were buried in an unmarked grave. We thought that we should address this issue.

"A successful application to the Irish government's Department of Foreign Affairs as part of their decade of centenaries has made this possible. We would like to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and all the staff involved."

'Better life for fellow workers'

Martin O'Rourke, lead organiser of the Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), welcomed the news that the memorial was to be erected.

Image caption John Quinn is the grandfather of Rocky Horror actress Patricia Quinn and the great-grandfather of Snow Patrol drummer Johnny Quinn.

"John worked closely with Jim Larkin in the efforts to organise workers in Belfast," he said.

"He was employed on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic, but was dismissed as a result of his trade union activities.

"We are delighted that his grave which has remained unmarked for so long, will at last have a gravestone, to honour a man who worked to secure a better life for fellow workers."

The family are appealing for any relatives to get in touch with them before the unveiling.

The memorial is expected to be unveiled in December.

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