Jeffery Agate

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

Jeffery Stanford "Jeff" Agate, OBE[1] (1919 –1977) was the Managing Director of the DuPont factory at Maydown, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He was shot dead by members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) outside his home at Talbot Park, Derry as he returned from work on the evening of February 2, 1977.[2]

Early life

Agate was born in Calcutta, West Bengal, India where his father, Carlton Agate, was employed as an engineer. He was educated in England where he achieved a BSc in Engineering.[3] During the Second World War, Agate saw active duty on HMS Devonshire as a Temporary Lieutenant (E) in the Royal Navy.[3] In 1957, he joined DuPont as chief engineer at the Maydown plant. He was promoted to plant manager in 1962 and later became Managing Director.


Agate was a well-liked and respected figure in both DuPont and the Derry community. Raymond McClean wrote in The Road to Bloody Sunday that "Jeff Agate was an honest and just human being of the highest calibre. His assassination by the IRA left me in total disbelief and disgust."[4] Agate's killing prompted an enormous outpouring of public grief that culminated in a mass protest at Guildhall Square in Derry and united people from all communities at a time of heightened sectarian tension.[5]

His widow, Alice Vera Agate (née Dand) returned to her native Newcastle upon Tyne where she lived in relative isolation until her death in 1994.[6] The Agates had no children.

Agate's murder was the first in a series of IRA attacks on businessmen. The IRA claimed that "Those involved in the management of the economy serve British interests. They represent and maintain economic interests which make the war necessary."[4]


Jeff Agate's funeral took place on February 5, 1977. The Eulogy was given by Brian Faulkner, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, as follows:

“We are met this morning to honour the memory of one of nature’s gentlemen – true humility, personal charm, absolute integrity – all coupled with great humility. Those are the qualities for which most of us remember Jeff Agate. Some of us knew him best in Industry, and whether from his colleagues in the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), or from Trade Union Leaders in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, or from his own workforce at Maydown, they gave him a loyalty which few men have the privilege to know and which came to him because all of these people, whether as groups or as individuals, trusted him absolutely.

And he never betrayed that trust. There was a most moving occasion the day before yesterday when, in pouring rain and a howling gale, virtually the whole workforce at Maydown came out and stood in silence for two minutes.

I knew Jeff Agate well for the whole of his time in Northern Ireland. I remember how, as a member of the first Northern Ireland Economic Council, he guided and advised us. I remember him as the Vice-Chairman of the Londonderry Commission, a body on which he demonstrated his determination to show a committed interest in the social problems right outside his immediate industrial responsibilities. But I remember him best for the many occasions on which I telephoned him from my Minister of Commerce desk and said, “Jeff, there’s an industrialist in Dusseldorf or in Texas or in Birmingham who’s thinking of putting a factory somewhere. Would you speak to him on the merits of an Ulster location?” and at once he would say, “Give me his telephone number!” and he would talk to him at once and would probably visit him within 24 hours.

Jeff Agate was personally responsible for bringing thousands of jobs to Northern Ireland, and especially to Londonderry. In common with a number who are here, I spent Friday of last week with him in Derry. He said something to me, which I shall always remember: He said, “When I go to England these days, I find myself saying to them ‘you English’ for I regard myself as an Ulsterman.” No man could pay a greater compliment to Northern Ireland.

It is unrewarding simply to condemn this outrage but we can still hope that it can produce such an ultimate revulsion that, no longer, will terrorists be able to find a sanctuary in our land.

It is tragic that, for this, Jeff Agate should be a sacrifice.

I know that I speak for everyone here, and for countless thousands elsewhere when I say to his widow, Vee, to his sisters and to his other close relatives – we give you all that we can, our deepest sympathy and our love. And, now, let us stand and in silence to honour the memory of a great man and a true friend.”


In 1979, Raymond McCartney was convicted of Agate's murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The conviction was overturned in 2007.[7]


  1. Gazette Issue 2488 Belfast Gazette, Belfast, 7 June 1968
  2. Soldiers outside Londonderry home of Jeffrey Agate,; retrieved 26 August 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 [1] Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-45
  4. 4.0 4.1 “Obituaries, Dr Raymond McClean” The Independent, 21 February 2011
  5. “DuPont factory: 50 years in the making” Belfast Telegraph, 14 December 2010
  6. Alice Vera Agate England & Wales Death Index, 1916-2007 [database on-line]. (subscription required)
  7. "UK court allows NI compensation appeal" RTE News 11 May 2011

See also