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Obituary: Bill Webster 1941-2014
William (Bill) Webster died in August after a long illness, aged 73.
Bill was a prominent member of the Socialist Party in Ireland from the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s.
Originally from Liverpool, Bill joined the Militant Tendency, the Socialist Party's forerunner in 1971 in south London.
Bill's father was a courier for the Communist International. Like his father, Bill went to sea, serving in both the merchant navy and the Royal Navy.
When he came into contact with Militant, he was full-time organiser for the General Municipal Workers Union now the GMB.
Bill left his union position to work for Militant in London, and after meeting his comrade Eileen Cullen, moved to Derry, where they married in 1975.
It was a very difficult period for socialist activists. 1975 and early 1976 saw an upsurge in sectarian killings.
The working class responded with Trades Council organised strikes and demonstrations in Derry, Newry and Lurgan.
Bill was a Derry Trades Council stalwart for decades and a regular delegate to Irish Congress of Trade Unions and ICTU Northern Ireland Committee conferences.
Bill never wavered in his efforts to build working class unity. He stood up when others on the left and in the union movement kept their heads down or bent towards one sectarian camp or the other.
He fought tirelessly for a political voice for the working class through efforts to build Derry Labour Party, and through chairing the Labour and Trade Union Group.
Bill offered unstinting support to workers in strikes and with other comrades courageously intervened in factories and other workplaces in opposition to the 1977 Loyalist stoppage.
His comrades remember his humanity, energy and warmth. He inspired many young people who came into contact with socialist ideas during his years of activity. He was an immensely talented and unrelenting class fighter.
Bill is survived by his wife, Eileen, his daughters, his son and his sisters.
Ciaran Mulholland, Socialist Party Northern Ireland
In The Socialist 29 October 2014:
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