April 22, 2020
Adams extends condolences on death of Jim Neeson

Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has extended his condolences to the family of Jim Neeson.

Gerry Adams said:

“Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a ghabháil le teaglach Neeson ag an uair mhillteanach bhrónach seo i saol bhur gclann.

“I want to extend my solidarity and deepest condolences to Joan and to the family of Jim Neeson who has died after a long illness. 

“I have known Jim for many years. He was a gentleman, a dedicated family man, a republican activist and one of the foremost community and business leaders in West Belfast for many decades.

“He is perhaps best known as a former Chairperson of the West Belfast Taxi Association. 

“During his many years of leadership of that organisation he constantly challenged British government efforts to demonise and close ‘The People’s Taxis’ service. 

“As a result Jim, like his colleagues, was under constant threat. Despite intense harassment by the British Army and RUC, and sectarian threats from unionist death squads the Black Taxis, under Jim’s leadership, continued to provide an essential public service. 

“Over 20 years Unionist death squads killed eight black taxi drivers. But Jim refused to be intimidated and under his leadership the Black Taxi hub in King Street in the centre of the city was built.

“As a well known and respected business leader and community activist Jim was also actively involved in many of the justice and civil rights campaigns.

“Jim was also a Chairperson of the Committee that managed Conway Mill. When the Thatcher government introduced political vetting and stopped funding for the crèche in Conway Mill Jim was central to the fight back. Along with others they kept the crèche open and assisted in the successful campaign against political vetting.

“Jim was key to the redevelopment of the Mill through the West Belfast Task Force. Today this iconic building provides educational, employment and other facilities for the people of west Belfast.

“Jim also worked closely with the Falls Community Council as they put together the funding and planning for the redevelopment of St Comgall’s in Divis Street, which is now going ahead and will be a landmark building at the entrance to the west of the city. His expertise and experience was frequently called on to assist small businesses.

“As well as being a business and community leader Jim was also a republican activist. For many years he was Sinn Féin’s liaison with the republican solidarity network in Australia. For over 30 years Jim was the patron of the Casement Group in Melbourne.

“To his wife Joan and family and the entire Neeson family circle I want to extend my sincerest condolences on their loss.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.” 

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