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Tribute to former NUJ president Paul McGill

27 January 2017

Tributes have been paid to former NUJ president Paul McGill, who has died following a illness borne with characteristic courage and determination.

A member of the NUJ Belfast and District branch, Paul was one of the best known trade unionist activists in Northern Ireland and served as NUJ delegate to Belfast Trade Union Council. A former education correspondent with the Belfast Telegraph Paul made a significant contribution to education and journalism in a varied professional life, working in Ireland and England.

In recent years he had worked for the  Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) and the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI).

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary said:

"Paul McGill is remembered as a hard working and diligent president. He had a strong commitment to social justice and was a passionate believer in the power of education to transform lives.

"Not long after serving as president he moved out of active trade unionism and refocused his career but he never lost his love for the union or his profound commitment to professional standards.

"In speaking about his cancer Paul showed remarkable courage and strength of character. It served as a reminder of his great spirit to his many friends and introduced Paul to a new generation of readers of the Belfast Telegraph.

"The NUJ sends condolences to his family, former colleagues and friends."

NUJ member of honour and former Irish press ombudsman, John Horgan, said:

"When I last met Paul, at the opening of the Heaney Home Place in Bellaghy, he reminded me of my verdict on one of the stories he had written in the early 1970s for the Education Times, on whose staff he was a fizzing bundle of initiative and controversy. 'You said it was like a big bowl of cold porridge', he told me. 'And you were right!' 
"We had many good-humoured battles about his fascination with statistics  - 'Figures McGill', we dubbed him. But there was never the slightest doubt about his persistence, his quest for excellence in everything he wrote and did, and his passionate, skilful advocacy for the rights of his journalistic colleagues in many different situations.  
"To lose Paul is a sharp reminder of the importance of what he did for our profession, and of the need to continually refresh the spirit that animated him."

Ex-Telegraph journalist McGill determined to live life to full after terminal cancer diagnosis - Former Belfast Telegraph journalist Paul McGill talks to his old colleague Laurence White about the harrowing realities of a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Tags: , obituaries, obituary, northern ireland, belfast telegraph, belfast and district branch, nuj president, belfast