Jinks, John (1871–1934), merchant and politician, was born 19 April 1871 in Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo, son of Patrick Jinks and Bridget Jinks (née Kilmartin). Apprenticed to Patrick Keighorn, a grocer in Sligo town, he subsequently established his own business as a publican, auctioneer, and funeral director in Stephen St., Sligo. Entering politics when he was elected a home rule member of Sligo corporation in 1899, he was also a member of the county council, rural district council, board of guardians, and board of health in Sligo. He always remained a staunch supporter of John Redmond (qv), although he demonstrated a level of independence from the Irish party, which can be seen in his opposition to the imposition of an external candidate for the 1909 Sligo North by-election, and his involvement in organising the Irish Volunteers in Sligo in February 1914. Yet he fully supported Redmond's war policy and spoke at recruiting meetings throughout Sligo urging young men to join the British army. In January 1914 he was elected mayor of Sligo, a position to which he was reelected in 1915 (unanimously) and 1916, although on the latter occasion he only won by two votes, having encountered strong opposition from councillors dissatisfied with the running of the corporation. In the January 1919 Sligo borough elections he was reelected to the corporation as an independent candidate, but he lost his county council seat in the Sinn Féin landslide at the June 1920 local elections. His surprising reelection as mayor of Sligo in January 1921, when he defeated the Sinn Féin candidate, was the result of the imprisonment of some Sinn Féin members of the corporation and the controversial decision of a Labour member to vote for him.
Jinks is most famous for his controversial brief sojourn in national politics in 1927. At the June 1927 general election he gained the last seat in Leitrim–Sligo, standing as a candidate for the Irish National League party of Thomas O'Donnell (qv) and Capt. William Redmond (qv), a coalition of old home rulers, ex-servicemen, publicans, and other treatyite opponents of Cumann na nGaedheal. After Fianna Fáil's entry to the dáil (August) the Labour party leader, Thomas Johnson (qv), sought to replace the Cumann na nGaedheal government with a Labour–National League coalition supported by Fianna Fáil. The strategy failed, however, due to Jinks's failure to turn up to vote on the no-confidence motion in the dáil. A tie resulted and the government survived on the casting vote of the ceann comhairle, Michael Hayes (qv). The ‘Jinks affair’ became famous nationally and internationally as numerous explanations for his absence emerged, including allegations that he had been kidnapped. The likeliest explanation is that his absence was engineered by prominent opponents of Fianna Fáil, Maj. Bryan Cooper (qv) and R. M. Smyllie (qv), who plied Jinks with alcohol and made it impossible for him to attend the division. Jinks's own explanation was that his supporters did not agree with Capt. Redmond's policy, but he decided to abstain in order not to split his party. The affair destroyed the National League and Jinks was defeated in the September 1927 general election, in which he stood as an independent. In 1928 the national stud acquired a new horse which W. T. Cosgrave (qv) suggested be named ‘Mr Jinks’; in 1929 it won the English 2,000 Guineas at 5/2.
There was more controversy in Jinks's political life in 1934 when he invoked his position as senior alderman on Sligo corporation to use his casting vote for himself when the mayoral election had been a tie between him and another alderman. This was later found to be invalid, but no further action was taken because of his ill-health. He died 12 September 1934, survived by his wife, Annie, and four sons.