- 06 Jun 17
As General President of SIPTU – and now also as Chairperson of the Labour Party – Jack O’Connor has for many years been one of the most influential people in Irish left wing politics. In a revealing interview, he defends Labour’s record in government, reflects on his run-in with Vincent Browne, addresses the controversy around his salary, explains why he thinks Brexit was a mistake – and says that the Irish left needs to overcome its divisions to achieve real social change.
Jack O’Connor was dubbed during the height of the recession by certain quarters of the media and his political foes as the "Most Dangerous Man in Ireland". Nonetheless, he is probably relieved when our interview finally wraps up, after being grilled for close to three hours. Not only is he exhausted from talking for so long, but the affable Dubliner confesses that he wasn’t expecting so many questions out of leftfield. “Those were tough question you asked me,” he jokes, as the conversation winds down.
In fairness, the President of SIPTU – the largest trade union in the country – gives as good as he gets. He certainly isn’t afraid to pull his punches – and he gets a lot off his chest during this lively exchange with Hot Press.
No matter what side of the fence you’re sitting on in Irish political life, there’s no denying that Jack O’Connor has played a pivotal role for many years now. With the trade union negotiations with the government about to kick off, Jack will again be one of the key players, with the responsibility of thrashing out a pay deal for workers that will dramatically shape the country’s economic future, for the next decade at least.