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New ICTU leader King facing into the biggest challenge of her career

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Patricia King. Photo: Tom Burke

Patricia King. Photo: Tom Burke

Patricia King. Photo: Tom Burke

She is yet to assume her role at the helm of the trade union movement, but Patricia King is already facing what will possibly be the biggest challenge of her career.

The incoming General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions last night told the Irish Independent that she is continuing to work in her role as vice president of Siptu in the interim, and said they are "opposed to the sale".

But in a matter of weeks, she will step in to replace David Begg, the outgoing General Secretary of ICTU, who will retire in March.

If the sale of Aer Lingus to IAG is confirmed, the eyes of the country will undoubtedly turn to her.

Trade unions Impact and Siptu, who represent many of the 3,900 employees at the airline, will naturally turn to her for assistance through the difficult times ahead.

Starting out as a shop-floor activist, the Co Wicklow woman (pictured) rose through the ranks in a career that spans more than three decades.

As a senior leader within Siptu, Ms King was at the helm of negotiations in both the Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements.

She has also been lauded for her skills in bringing what many will remember as the bitter Irish Ferries dispute to an end in 2006. She previously served as a member of the RTE Authority and the NRA. She is currently on the board of the Dublin Airport Authority, Pobal and the Apprenticeship Council.

However, it is unlikely that she will take the position of her ICTU predecessor Mr Begg as a non-executive director of Aer Lingus, as his role there came to an end last week. It is understood that "appointing a director during a takeover period might not be permissible".

Begg was appointed to the board in 2008, having previously served as a representative for employees on the Employee Share Ownership Trust.

The outgoing leader of the trade union umbrella organisation yesterday said ICTU hold a "real worry and concern" about the proposed sale in terms of employment.

Irish Independent