Midgley, Harry Cassidy (1892-1957)


Harry Cassidy Midgley (1892-1957) Politician and NI Government Minister. b. Belfast, 8 September 1892. Ed. Duncairn Gardens National School, Belfast. Secured apprenticeship as a joiner to the Shipbuilders, Workman and Clark, 1906. Became interested and involved in the Labour movement about this time. Served as a soldier in the First World War recording his experiences in his published poetry ‘Thoughts from Flanders’ (1924). Married his childhood sweetheart, Eleanor Adgey, in 1918 becoming a member of the Labour movement in Belfast soon after. By the end of 1919 became Organising Secretary of the Irish Linen Lappers and Warehouse Workers Union, playing a leading role in the Belfast Labour Party. Stood unsuccessfully as a Labour Candidate in the NI General Elections of 1921, 1923 and 1924. Elected Chairman of the Belfast Labour Party, March 1932. Elected for the Dock Division, Belfast in November 1933, retaining his seat until 1938. Returned to Stormont in 1941 following by-election success in the Willowfield constituency. In December 1942 was expelled from the NILP as a result of political tensions within the party on the National Question. Midgley was in favour of making a firm commitment to the NI Constitution. Formed his own party, the Commonwealth Labour Party with himself as Chair. April 1943, appointed Minister of Public Security, the first non-Unionist to enter the Northern Ireland Government. In September 1947, he tendered his resignation of the CLP and crossed the floor to join the official Unionist Party. He was also invited to join the Ulster Unionist Labour Association and became a member of the Orange Order and the Royal Black Preceptory. In 1949 secured a re-election to the Willowfield Constuency. By doing so he performed a unique feat - he had been returned for the same constuency under three different party labels: Labour, Commonwealth Labour and Unionist. His success was rewarded in 1949 with his appointment as Minister for Labour and National Insurance and, in 1950, when he was made Minister for Education. He held this post until his death on 29th April 1957 at the age of sixty four Mr John Midgley Eldest son of the Late Mr Harry Midgley (1892-1957)