My friend and colleague Kieran Quinn, who was executive leader of Tameside MBC from 2010, died on Christmas Day 2017 following a heart attack. Kieran was a powerful life force both within Greater Manchester and beyond.
Right from the start of his career, when leaving college to work for the postal service, he directed his considerable energy towards trade unions - becoming a key figure in the Communication Workers Union - a relationship which endured for over 30 years. In 1994, Kieran became an elected member for Droylsden East, representing the Labour party and was soon in the cabinet as the lead on economic development, driving projects such the Metrolink tram system.
On becoming the executive leader of the council, he led the authority through the most challenging period in its history and yet achieved so much for Tameside and its people. He had a brilliant, strategic and perceptive mind and possessed the natural leadership skills, integrity and credibility to bring people together – aligning differing personalities and agendas to achieve the best outcomes for local people and the greater good.
Kieran’s exceptional leadership was recognised in 2016 by the Local Government Chronicle when Tameside MBC was awarded Council of the Year. His legacy is truly transformational, he led major redevelopment of town centres - including new opportunities for education, training, business, transport and leisure - that will improve the life chances for young people and residents for generations to come.
His impact stretched well beyond Tameside’s boundaries. Kieran was a key architect at a critical time in the region’s modern history, being at the centre of Greater Manchester rediscovering its voice through the combined authority, the new mayor and the groundbreaking devolution deals.
He was chair of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund which under his leadership experienced record growth and is now the biggest local government pension scheme in the UK, winning the ‘Local Government Pension Scheme Fund of the Decade’ award.
However his real legacy is probably less visible but equally tangible and that is in the lives he touched - from children having a better start in life, people supported into work, families provided with housing and the support given to our most vulnerable residents. He was passionate about and ambitious for his community. He didn’t just ‘say’ he ‘did’, putting in place the infrastructure to support people to grow, thrive and better themselves.
Kieran was a local working man who stood shoulder to shoulder with his community. His principles shone through everything he did - he always found a way to do the right thing. The high regard he was widely held in was reflected in the 600 mourners that attended his funeral and the hundreds of tributes, ranging from messages from a former prime minister and an Olympic gold medal winner to condolences from a local pigeon fancier club. For Kieran each person was equally deserving of his support.
Kieran leaves behind his wife Susan, sons Liam and Matthew, mother Mary and siblings Angela, Michael, Martin, Paddy, Paul, Bernie, Cathy, Anthony and Mary.
Steven Pleasant, Tameside MBC chief executive