Tributes paid to miners' leader Tyrone O'Sullivan who has died aged 77

Tributes have been paid to the former miner and trade unionist who has passed away.

Tributes have been paid to miners' leader Tyrone O'Sullivan who has died at the age of 77.

Mr O'Sullivan was the leader of a group of miners that used their redundancy money to buy Tower Colliery in Hirwaun in 1994.

Tower became the symbol for the miners’ resistance in the 1990s and it was the last deep pit in South Wales.

Described as "legendary", Mr O'Sullivan was born and raised in the heart of the South Wales coalfield and into a mining family.

He was regarded as someone who "epitomised the strength and depth of the mining industry and what it meant to the communities of South Wales".

The First Minister has said he is "deeply saddened" to hear of his death.

Paying tribute, Mark Drakeford said Mr O'Sullivan was "a giant, in every sense, of the Labour movement and a great figure in the history of Wales in our own time."

He added: "An instinctive practitioner of practical socialism, he leaves his legacy in the lives he affected, the hope he radiated and the utter determination with which he pursued the causes which mattered most to those on whose behalf he worked with such dedication."

The former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) branch secretary remained the chairman of Goitre Tower Anthracite Ltd, the owners of Tower Colliery, right up to his death.

The miners who bought Tower Colliery in the 1990s.

Mr O'Sullivan reflected on his "incredible memories" of his time at the deep pit in 2018 and said: "We changed what the mining industry was and we made an incredible difference to the Cynon Valley."

Shavanah Taj, the general secretary for Wales TUC, offered her tribute to the "giant in Welsh union movement".

She said Mr O'Sullivan was "always ready to advise, support and stand in solidarity, determined to ensure the next generation is prepared for battles of today."

Dawn Bowden MS, who represents Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, said: "He will always be remembered as the man who defied Thatcher and helped save Tower colliery.

"A true working-class hero who will be sadly missed by his family, friends, and the Labour movement."

Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi called him a "towering figure of trade unionism and the Labour movement".

She tweeted: "Since getting elected I have been proud to know Tyrone as a warm, sincere and intelligent member of Gower CLP [Constituency Labour Party]."

Rhondda Cynon Taf council leader Andrew Morgan tweeted that he had known Mr O'Sullivan for more than 30 years and was "very sorry to hear... the legend of Tower Colliery has passed away." 

Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens tweeted that he was a "a legendary south Wales miner and trades unionist whose story will continue to be told for years to come".

Baroness Wilcox of Newport, who sits in the House of Lords for Labour, added: "My dear late stepfather Terry Howells was a miner for most of his working life and knew Tyrone who epitomised the strength and depth of the mining industry and what it meant to the communities of south Wales. May he rest in peace."

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