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Attley a giant of the Irish trade union movement

A GIANT of the trade union movement, William Attley is probably best known as a former general secretary of the largest union, SIPTU.

His career extends back well beyond the formation of SIPTU when he represented workers along with some of the Republic's veteran activists.

He inherited the leadership of the Federated Workers Union of Ireland from Paddy Cardiff, who had succeeded James Larkin junior, in the mid-1980s.

Mr Attley was instrumental in his union's amalgamation with the ITGWU in 1990s, which led to the creation of SIPTU.

As SIPTU leader, he was a key figure in the early years of social partnership and helped broker successive national pay deals.

Between 1999 and 2006, he was a member of the FAS board. In the wake of revelations of extravagant spending at the training agency, it emerged he travelled with his wife on a trip to Brussels on flights costing more than €1,100.

Mr Attley held a number of high profile roles, including membership of the Public Service Benchmarking Body, the EU Social and Economic Committee, and the National Sports Campus Authority.

His name cropped up recently as chairman of the National Steering Group that oversaw the SKILL training programme.

When previously contacted about revelations in the internal HSE audit last June, Mr Attley told the Irish Independent no foreign travel had been authorised by any member of the steering group.

He said he had been told by the HSE that issues with the SKILL accounts had been "sorted out".

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