UNISON Northern Ireland


UNISON is in mourning at the death of our own Pamela Dooley - an inspirational and utterly determined trade union leader.

As our Head of Organising, Pamela helped UNISON to grow to the largest union in Northern Ireland.   Along the way she touched the lives of thousands of workers and their families.  We owe her a great debt.

She was the first to organise workers in the community and voluntary sector 30 years ago.  At her initiative we organised Filipino workers when they arrived into our hospitals and care homes.  She saved many from exploitation. She worked with traveller families to challenge discrimination.  She brought the union's education programme to women in prisons, she rescued trafficked women and campaigned against domestic violence.  

Pamela dedicated years to developing our branches, encouraging women members, building our LGBT+ membership and growing our black and migrant workers organisation.  Today we are the single largest organisation of black and migrant workers.  Our union branches have grown stronger under her guidance.  

In ICTU, as Chair of the Northern Women's Committee, Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee and a member of the Executive Council, she bore her responsibilities with dignity and determination.   She led thousands in the protest march against the G8 and thousands more in the peace rally after the murder of Ronan Kerr.  She was a key part of the ICTU delegation which brought our main political parties to Columbia to support that peace process.  On behalf of the movement, Pamela gave evidence to Westminster and NI Assembly committees challenging human trafficking, domestic violence and the need for the UK Government to extend UN resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security to Northern Ireland.

After retiring from her position as Head of Organising, Pamela became Chair of the Migrant Centre and fought for funding that has put it in a position of strength today.   She continued to lead UNISON's partnerships in the health service and to the very end dedicated herself to training our women members and new stewards.  We recall only a fraction of her achievements.

Throughout at all these struggles and achievements Pamela refused to let the breast cancer which had struck her decades before, define her life.  She shared her experiences with other women and supported them.  She did it her way to the end.  And her way was one of outstanding integrity, compassion and unswerving dedication to those in need of support and those she loved.

She was my colleague and my friend and a friend to so many more.   We send our love and condolences to Caroline, her daughter, another member of the UNISON team.   We will all miss her deeply but we will keep the flame alight. 


Patricia McKeown
Regional Secretary