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Obituary Tributes pour in for veteran Shrewbury picket Ken O'Shea

TRIBUTES were paid to Ken O’Shea, one of the Shrewsbury 24, yesterday after he died aged 88 on Boxing Day.

Mr O’Shea was the oldest of the 24 construction workers who picketed building sites to fight against poor pay and unsafe working conditions in 1972.

The Shrewsbury 24 were arrested, charged and stood trial following what was the first ever national building workers’ strike.

Mr O’Shea stood trial twice in 1973 for his part in the strike. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Shrewsbury 24 campaigners are still fighting to clear their names and force the government to publish secret documents about their trial and prosecution.

A joint statement by the campaign group’s chairman Harry Chadwick and secretary Eileen Turnball said: “Like all the other convicted pickets, Ken always maintained his innocence and was a central part of the campaign to have the convictions overturned.

“Ken always said that the government were waiting for the pickets to die before they would release the documents that would show the extent of government interference in bringing the prosecutions in 1972-73.

“One of his last comments to us, when we spoke about the strike and trials, was that, despite the blacklisting and hardship that he experienced after the trials, he would do it all again.

“We will honour Ken’s memory and support the surviving pickets by continuing with our campaign to have the convictions overturned.”

Shrewsbury 24 campaigner Phil Simpson remembers the “real character” and “lovely, lovely person” that was Kenneth Desmond Francis O’Shea.

He added: “Ken O’Shea, rest in peace, You will never be forgotten. A true working-class hero.”

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