Inishowen man Owen Reidy has been announced as the new General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).
His appointment and background will be significant in any upcoming negotiations on cross-border trade issues.
In his late forties, he is a native of Ballybrack, between Moville and Greencastle, and a former pupil of Carndonagh Community School.
Owen is a son of Brian Reidy, who was the manager of the AIB bank in Moville for many years, while his late mother Patricia, who died in December 2018, was a schoolteacher in Derry.
He started his career as a union official in SIPTU in the West of Ireland, organising workers in the aviation, insurance, finance, non-commercial semi-states, and cleaning and security sectors.
Owen was later appointed one of SIPTU’s five Divisional Organisers in 2013, when he managed and ran the union’s Transport, Energy, Aviation and Construction Division.
In 2016 he took up the position of Assistant General Secretary of the ICTU, with primary responsibility for the Congress in Northern Ireland. He has coordinated the work and voice of the trade union movement in NI in response to Brexit, political stalemate, and the current cost of living crisis.
He has spoken frequently on behalf of the estimated 20,000 people who commute daily between the Republic and Northern Ireland and has emphasised the need to maintain the free movement of people on the island and to ensure that barriers are not placed in the way of workers commuting to work or for any other reason between the two jurisdictions.
Owen has strong family links to Labour and the Trade Union movement. His grandfather Stephen McGonagle was a trade union official for the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), based in Derry but serving Derry and Donegal.
Moville Labour Councillor Martin Farren welcomed Mr Reidy’s promotion and has wished him “every success” in the role.
“Owen’s personal experiences growing up in a cross-border community will serve us well in the upcoming Brexit negotiations – as well as his commitment to those workers not organised in trade unions, low paid workers, such as care workers and other Community and Voluntary workers, for recognition of their work and for equal pay for equal services,” Cllr Farren said.