It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Workers’ Party comrade and long-time Ard Comhairle member, John Jefferies.
John joined the Workers’ Party in the late 1980s, becoming a member a member of a branch in the Cork South Central Constituency. At that time John was working in the retail trade and was already an active trade unionist in the then Irish Distributive and Administrative Union (IDATU) which has since merged with the Irish National Union of Vintners’, Grocers’ and Allied Trades Assistants (INUVGATA / Barmen’s Union) to form the Mandate trade union.
John had also worked with the Simon Community in Cork as both a volunteer and full-time employee and he later returned to work with Simon again for a number of years.
Within the Party John’s skills and dedication were quickly recognised. He became a part time worker with the Party, dealing with the media, working with the councillors on Cork City Council, and related work.
After the Democratic Left group split from the Party in 1992 John worked in Dáil Éireann as an assistant to Tomás Mac Giolla until November of that year. John spent two further periods as a full time worker with the Party, first as National Press Officer and later as the Administrative Officer for the Party.
Even when John ceased being a fulltime employee for the Party his work-rate barely slowed down. He continued as the Workers’ Party national press officer on a voluntary basis and poured out a continuous stream of well constructed and up to the minute statements on an incredible range of local, national and international issues.
John was a member of the Ard Comhairle / CEC of the Workers’ Party for over twenty years until he stepped down from that role at the 2019 Ard Fheis. He did invaluable research in preparing many Workers’ Party pre-budget submissions and post budget analyses; co-writing national submissions on issues ranging from An Bord Snip, the creation of Irish Water and Irish Defence policy; as well as writing and producing both local and national newsletters.
Outside of Party politics John was a dedicated peace activist. As a teenager he joined CND and when that stopped being a campaigning organisation he joined PANA where he remained an active member. John was particularly active in the campaign against the forced fragmentation of Yugoslavia and against the NATO bombing against Serbia and the deliberate NATO destruction of many historic sites across that country. During the NATO
assault John actually visited Belgrade as part of an international peace delegation. Arising from this ceaseless activism John was the Irish representative at the World Assembly of the World Peace Council in Caracas, Venezuela in 2008.
John loved to travel and as a fluent German speaker he visited many parts of Germany as well as Austria. Some of these trips were purely recreational but more often than not John would manage to squeeze in attendance at a political event or conference on behalf of the Party as a component of his trip.
John loved electronics and in particular he loved the mixture of electronics as applied to communication. He was a qualified Ham Radio operator and a real expert on the workings of short-wave radio systems.
John was an inveterate reader across a broad range of topics but especially history. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Cork and Cobh. This knowledge, as well as his fluency of language, is evident in his book Death on the Pier published in 2017. The books deals with the almost forgotten story of the gun attack by a freelance unit of the anti-Treaty Cork IRA
on off-duty British soldiers stationed on Spike Island as they disembarked from a ferry onto Cobh Harbour. The attack left one soldier killed with other soldiers and civilians injured while the assailants escaped in a yellow Rolls Royce which was not seen again for almost seventy years. The book was a critical and commercial success and John was in the process of preparing a second book before his untimely death.
John is survived by his only sister Monica, her husband David Ross, as well as their son and his wife. To his family in particular, to his comrades in Cork and around the country, and to his wide circle of friends national and internationally we extend deepest condolences.