Tributes have poured in for the late Jim Sheridan at the first Renfrewshire Council meeting following his passing.
Elected members were informed of his death at the age of 69 following a period of illness on Friday.
Sheridan was MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North constituency, which was previously called Renfrewshire West, from 2001 to 2015.
He was appointed the Labour group’s depute leader in June 2019 in his second stint as a councillor when he represented Houston, Crosslee and Linwood.
Councillor Iain McMillan, the group’s current leader, said in the chambers on Thursday: “I’ve known Jim for a long number of years and I knew he was ill, but obviously it was quite upsetting when I got the news last week.
“Jim was a true gentleman and a great human being, who cared passionately about other people.
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“He had quite a varied career working in the shipbuilding industry, printing industry and eventually coming into politics.
“I always remember the leader of the Labour group saying to me when he came in, ‘can you look after him?’
“I felt this was a bit strange. This was a guy with masses of experience, a bit older than me and I thought, ‘this isn’t right’.
“But Jim went through real humility, sat down beside me for a long period and learnt the ropes — not that I was any expert, but I tried to show him, to the best of my knowledge and experience, the way.
“When he came became an MP, he wrote me a lovely letter to say, ‘Thank you very much Iain for all your help’.”
Independent councillor Andy Doig said Sheridan’s political legacy would be promoting the bill that led to the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004.
The legislation regulated agencies that place vulnerable people in agricultural work and the shellfish collecting and packing industries.
It followed a tragedy at Morecambe Bay in February 2004, which saw a number of Chinese cockle-pickers killed.
Councillor Doig said: “I respected Jim for the fact that, if you look at his political career, he was never afraid to stand up for what he believed in and I always respect that in people.
“I think that’s a tremendous trait when the tendency might be to go with the flow and that cuts across all parties.
“His abiding passion in public and political life was the dignity and rights of workers and working people.
“I think that’s what he’ll be remembered for.”
Councillor Eddie Devine, who appointed the former MP as his depute when he was Labour group leader, said: “Jim Sheridan was a real Labour man.
“I’ll personally miss him greatly. He was a gentleman.
“Jim stood by his principles and his principles, unlike some others, were not for sale.”
Neill Graham, the Conservative group leader, added: “He didn’t go into politics to make friends or to change his views whatever way the political wind was blowing.
“He was a man of strong beliefs, even if those beliefs differed from the leadership of his own party at times.
“The only thing that Jim and myself seemed to agree on was that we would disagree, but his passion and commitment to his beliefs gained the respect of all Conservative members in the chamber.”
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