Business Irish

Sunday 21 October 2018

Billy Attley

IT WAS always easy to spot Billy Attley. For a start he was usually a couple of inches taller than those around him. And he was always the man in the middle. This was the case during his more mature phase as one of the country's more famous trade union negotiators and in his younger days as a soccer referee. In either uniform, he was the stern, often exasperated, conciliator

MARTIN FITZPATRICK

IT WAS always easy to spot Billy Attley. For a start he was usually a couple of inches taller than those around him. And he was always the man in the middle. This was the case during his more mature phase as one of the country's more famous trade union negotiators and in his younger days as a soccer referee. In either uniform, he was the stern, often exasperated, conciliator. Born in Rathcoole in Co Dublin, he went to work in the nearby Killeen Paper Mills as a young man and there fostered his interest in organised labour.

He joined the WUI, Jim Larkin's breakaway organisation.Attley and his then counterpart at the ITGWU, John Carroll, realised during the Eighties that in the same way that corporations were merging into multinationals, unions too needed to merge and achieve economies of scale. Between them they spearheaded the creation of Siptu. Billy Attley became the first joint general president of the union with Eddie Browne.

But while all this was going on he led a sporting life as well. A good soccer referee he went on to recruit and train refs. Indeed this 'nixer' has afforded him a fascinating retirement career watching matches around Europe. He's just back from Copenhagen having acted as Uefa refereeing assessor. He's also the chief referee's assessor for the FAI.

However, hes hasn't quit facilitating. Where there's a thorny IR problem Attley is seldom far away.

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