Eamonn O'Kane Teacher and Teachers' Leader

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Eamonn O'Kane taught in a tough school in Belfast during the height of the Troubles, caught up in the deadly politics of the paramilitaries. It was from here he rose through the ranks to general secretary of a teacher union which recruited from both sides of the sectarian divide. He battled during the civil rights marches of the sixties in Northern Ireland and brought his sense of justice to the classroom and teacher union movement. His charm and sense of humour made him popular, even among those who did not share his views. He played an important role in setting up a national agreement with the Labour government, which brought teachers to the heart of education reform. His early death was a tragic blow to the wider union movement and the education system.