The leader of a British transport union says he has been told by Irish people that his message is “really resonating” with them, and they want to see the same messaging from their own unions and politicians.
Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, rose to prominence in June after conducting a series of media interviews about a rail workers’ strike held over pay and conditions – the largest rail strike for a generation.
Mr Lynch – whose father left Cork city in 1941 to travel to Britain to get work, and whose mother is from Co Armagh – is in Cork this weekend.
He spoke to Second Captains programme on Saturday about his sporting allegiances, his Irish heritage and being a trade unionist.
When asked if he had been recognised during his trip, Mr Lynch said “yeah, there’s been a few selfies”.
He added: “I’ve got a hat on, I’m trying to hide a bit, but there’s a few people who are asking ‘are you Mick Lynch?’ and all that.
“The first bar I walked into, the barman said ‘are you Mick Lynch’ and a few people are coming up to me.
“It’s very nice that people want to say hello and it’s nice what they say.
“They’re saying ‘keep on going’, ‘what you’re doing is really resonating with us’, and ‘can you keep it up?’
“People have asked me back over and to speak at various events, which is all very good. So I’m hoping to keep all that going.”
He said: “But I’m very aware that your stock can be up one week and you can be very down the next week if something goes wrong or the tide turns against you a bit.”
Mr Lynch said that the RMT union was “pleased” with the public reaction in Britain and internationally to their message, “including in Ireland”.
He added: “There’s been a lot of people in touch with us saying it’s been inspirational and they want the same from their unions and from their politicians really, because people are struggling in a lot of areas in society.”
Mr Lynch spoke about his Irish roots on the programme, saying that there was a strong Irish contingent in the area of west London he grew up in, nicknamed “county” Kilburn.
He said: “We were always in unions, it’s just what we did. For us, it was the same as going to mass. Being a union activist was the same as being from west London.”
Speaking about joining the rail union, Mr Lynch said that he had initially aimed to keep a low profile, but that “the gift of the gab took over” and he began recruiting people into the union as the railways were privatised.
“If you see a ball, you ought to kick it sometimes,” he said.