The Cork Mother Jones Committee has announced that the late Dave Hopper and the Durham Miners’ Association are the recipients of the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.
Mr Hopper was General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association. Tragically, Dave, who was due to arrive in Cork to introduce a film on Orgreave at the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival passed away on Saturday 16th July last and his funeral was held yesterday (Friday).
The Cork Mother Jones Committee have extended our sympathy and solidarity to his family and friends everywhere.
“Dave Hopper attended the past two Mother Jones festivals in Cork and was looking forward to coming again this year. He was a legend in the trade union movement and was instrumental in organising the largest union gathering in Europe at what is known as the Durham Miners’ Gala this year. It was held on Saturday July 9th and was attended by over 150,000 people, making it one of the largest crowds to attend there in living memory.”
Stated Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee:
“Mr Hopper loved coming to Shandon, he loved the people of Shandon and made a great contribution to the festivals. In 2015 he delivered (along with Kaiulani Lee) the annual Cork Mother Jones Lecture. He will be sadly missed by the many friends he made in Shandon and is a huge loss to the labour movement. We intend to honour his memory at this year’s festival by an appropriate tribute and we know the Durham Miners Association will carry on his work”
In his recent message at the 2016 Durham Gala, Dave Hopper in his honest and forthright manner stated:
“Britain has voted to leave the European Union and we face uncertain times. After much soul-searching I had decided to vote to remain as I thought that the rights of working people would be better safeguarded within the EU. However, of one thing we can be sure whether in or out the powers that be will try to make the working class pay for the continuing economic crisis.”
Dave Hopper, a fourth generation miner, had been the General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association since 1985. In spite of the closure of the pits and collieries, not alone had he continued to fight for justice for miners and continued to seek compensation benefits for work related sickness and injuries endured by his colleagues but had led the transformation of the Durham Miners’ Association into a community based organisation. This Association had the organisational resources to showcase working people’s solidarity through the growth of the inspirational Durham Miners’ Gala each July.
Dave Hopper and the Durham Miners’ Association are worthy recipients of the 2016 Award. The award has been made each year to those who we feel act in the Spirit of Mother Jones and we are satisfied that our selection for 2016 is very true to this spirit.
The Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Award recipients to date have been,
2013, Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts. (Hillsborough Family Support Group,)
2014 Gareth Peirce, solicitor.
2015 Fr. Peter McVerry.
The Cork Mother Jones Committee is shocked to learn this evening of the sudden death earlier today of Dave Hopper, Chair of the Durham Miners’ Gala and a great friend and supporter of our festival. Dave was due to visit Cork later this month for the 2016 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and we were very much looking forward to his as always forthright and intelligent contribution. Just a week ago a member of Cork Mother Jones festival visited Durham for the annual Miners’ Gala and met with Davy who was also looking forward to his trip to Cork.
We are deeply saddened to hear of Davy’s passing. We are certain that he will be a huge loss to the trade union movement and to the struggle for social justice and decency in his own country and internationally. Davy as truly a man with the determination and spirit of Mother Jones. Our sympathy to his family and friends.
The annual Durham Gala, organised by the Durham Miners’ Association was held at the Racecourse on Saturday 11th July 2015. The Big Meeting took place following the huge colourful parade of banners and bands through the city from early morning.