Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review of “Seán Murray: Marxist-Leninist and Irish Socialist Republican”

Seán Byers' book caught my eye in Easons in Cork City. It was quite appropriate that a book dealing with the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland would be selling in one of the city's main bookshops as not too long ago, 2 Maoist bookstores were burned down in the city for selling seditious literature. This ossification within Irish society's view of Communism further illustrates the challenges the book's subject and his party faced.

Murray was born in the Glens of Antrim, into a rural Catholic background. Joining Sinn Féin in 1917, Murray would have a life-long dalliance with Irish republicanism, with tenure in the IRA spanning the War for Indpendence and Civil War. Embracing James Connolly's maxim “The cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour”, Murray joined the Communist Party of Great Britain while in London in1924. For recognition of his talents, he was selected to attend the International Lenin school for intense study. The resulting “Bolshevisation” would lead to Murray's life-long affinity with the Soviet Union.

Murray and his newly-found Revolutionary Workers Party (later Groups) faced severe problems in Ireland. The Catholic Church was in firm control of the state and society. It had no tolerance for atheist Communism. Murray and his comrades faced heckling, abuse, intimidation and violence. It's paper was refused publication in several instances. Murray himself was stabbed at a demonstration. In 1933, Murray formed the new Communist Party of Ireland. In March 1933, Connolly House, its headquarters was besieged and burned down, Murray and others narrowly avoiding serious injury or worse.

The Comintern had a tight rein on the CPs of Europe, Ireland included, and expected them to obey their diktats on strategy. The Comintern had little sympathy for Murray's protestations that the party in Ireland needed to drawback on its anti-Catholicism or would further scare off potential recruits. The Cominern also feared, as part of its “class against class” position, that the Irish party was getting too close to the “petit-bourgeois” IRA.

Murray was an ardent Bolshevik and needed Moscow for financial support and ideological legitimacy. However, he was pragmatic and used his own wit to deal with some matters. For instance, Byers writes on p.70 “There was indeed a vast gulf between Comintern policy which ruled out cooperation with social democrats and other reformists, and CPI practice.”

The COMINTERN used the CPGB to try to reign in the Irish party and in a few instances, put Murray's leadership under scrutiny and considered changing the role for someone less inclined to pursue an independent line.  Thankfully for Murray's leadership, Moscow acquiesced on some issues and trusted him as the mose capable to lead the party. Murray, a former IRA man and Connollyite himself, believed that, despite certain disagreements, that the IRA would play a key role in the Irish anti-imperialist movement. Murray had a great friendship with socialist republicans such as Peadear O'Donnell and Frank Ryan. With them, he played a key role in the Republican Congress. The Congress would ultimately fail but Murray's ambition for republicans and communists working together would never wane. In some instances, the IRA would provide stewards for some CPI rallies at Murray's behest in recognition as a republican stalwart.

The CPI was an internationalist party and provided the bulk of volunteers to fight with Republican Spain against Franco's fascists. Here, Murray played a key role. He was responsible for the organising of recruits and the unenviable position of informing the families of the deceased. The CPI went up against the Irish Christian Front and Blueshirts at home and regularly disrupted meetings of both along with republicans. This clearly did not help their standing in the eyes of the church.

The outbreak of World War was quite obviously hugely significant to the Irish party. A debate on the party’s position on southern neutrality while the north was fighting the war led to an impasse between northern and southern comrades. The party decided to break, the south dissolving its branches while the northern party continued its activities. Murray moved to Belfast but found organising the CPNI a different kettle of fish to his former activities. Murray would no longer be General Secretary and it would be awhile until his talents would be suitably recognised and he was brought on to the executive. Murray became editor of the part's war-time bulletin Unity. The CPNI supported the British war effort and for this, was rewarded with Stormont's ambivalence to its activities, allowing it to recruit, at its height, 1,000 members.

The party in the north had a huge base among the unionist working-class and this showed in its attitude towards republicanism. The party feared losing its Protestant members and was reluctant to be seen as supportive of the IRA. There was also an attitude whereby the party saw itself more as being a section of the CPGB which caused problems for Murray in his disagreements with that party. The end of WWII and the beginnining of the Cold War lead to a Red Scare which would damage the party, especially as it was beginning to organize again in the south with the development of the Irish Workers League and later the Irish Workers Party.

Murray strived for party unity and Sean Murray was a key player in bringing Irish trade unionist congresses to amalgamate and foster a more favourable climate for re-unification of the Irish parties, a case study of how partition had complicated the development of Irish communism. Murray especially, as one himself, believed in the northern party taking an active role in fighting for equal rights for northern Catholics. His 6 point demands would later from 6 of the 7 points of the future Civil Rights Movement. Murray authored “The Irish Path to Socialism” in 1960 which advocated, perhaps naiively, for the establishment of 2 Left-wing governments on the island as the path to re-unification. At the same time, the IWP published its manifesto “Ireland Her Own” which was remarkably similar to the northern manifesto.Both were Connollyite in their approach and repudiated the orthodox “stageist” model to socialism, highlighting further Murray's skill in analysing the concrete conditions available to revolutionaries.

Seán Murray died in 1961, as a result of life-long alcohol abuse. Murray was certainly highly intelligent and many of his analyses would come true later on or provide inspiration for later individuals. His position on what was needed for the republican movement to become relevant for the working-class would later be taken up by leading republicans such as Tomas MagGiolla several years after Murray's death. His position on the economic results of Capitalism for the Irish nation would turn out to be astutely foreseen. His demands for northern Catholics would be almost copied by the Civil Rights Movement, again several years after his death. His ambition for a united Irish Communist party and agitation for that would eventually become a reality in 1970 after several years of estrangement.

Byers' book is not the first to deal with Irish Communism, but is arguably the most
important, as we yet have a full historiography of the Irish party. Byers skillfully deals with his fellow academics' books and offers succinct and constructive criticisms of them. His impeccable use of sources offers further reading material and are often as insightful as the book itself, especially in his reliance on primary-source information such as interviews with contempary figures and Special Branch reports. His book fills in many gaps in the history of Irish Communism and while not trying to be a full analysis of the Communist Party of Ireland, offers a benchmark for any future historian dedicated to telling the full story of the party which it so deserves.

By Graham Harrington, Connolly Youth Movement.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Statement on Greece from the Communist Party of Ireland.

KKE: NO to the continuing bankruptcy of the people
The KKE held mass demonstrations on the 26th of June 2015 in the major cities of Greece against the new anti-people measures and agreements with the lenders, which are being prepared by the SYRIZA-ANEL government.
D. Koutsoumpas, the GS of the CC of the KKE, said, amongst other things, during his speech in Athens’ central square:
“The Greek people must say a big NO to the agreement, NO to their own continuing bankruptcy, NO to the parties of the EU one-way street and capitalist power. They must chart a course so that they can really take the reins of power.
The people must struggle alongside the KKE, they must impede the anti-people measures, on the streets, in the workplaces.
SYRIZA became the government by hijacking the workers’-people’s demands. It is now trying to deceive the people once again, distorting and interpreting the people’s votes in line with its interests.
Five months after the elections, the government is preparing to send the people the bill with the measures of the new agreement that are truly a noose around the necks of the families from the popular strata who have bled and will continue to bleed for the debt, for the EU, for the profitability of the monopolies, if they do not start a counterattack along the path of rupture and conflict with the EU and the monopolies.
The Greek people must reject both the proposals of the lenders-“three institutions” and also the proposals of the Tsipras government of 47+8 pages, they are both barbaric, a guillotine for the people.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government and also its European partners and the IMF, with the intervention of the USA, have not given up on the efforts to save capitalist Greece inside the framework of the capitalist EU.”
In early hours of the morning of the 27th of June, the Prime Minister A. Tsipras announced a referendum, whose question will be whether the people accept the proposal of the lenders or not.
In an intervention during the program of the Mega TV station, shortly after the Prime Minister’s address, Yiannis Gkiokas, member of the CC of the KKE and responsible for its Press Office, stressed that:
“The position of the KKE is clear. The NO of the Greek people must be directed towards both proposals-the proposal of the lenders and also the proposal of the government of 47 pages that has had details added to it during this whole period.
Both proposals contain savage measures at the expense of the people.
The referendum has the features of blackmail against the people and aims to make them complicit in the anti-people plans, by calling on them to choose between two evils.
The government must cease telling fairytales about allegedly respecting the people’s will. The people struggled in the previous years and bled against the memoranda and application laws. And during these 5 months, the government has not abolished any law, has maintained the previous framework untouched and is also proposing new measures to the lenders.
The government says that the proposal of the lenders is outside the people’s mandate. Is its own proposal inside the boundaries of the people’s mandate?
The government told lies to the Greek people. It promised them that they could be freed from the memoranda and austerity inside the EU and the capitalist development path and now it is trying to manage the collapse of this pre-election narrative.
The people must say no to both of them in every way and using every means available. They must reject the plan of the creditors and also the plan of the government. They must rise up and fight for the only realistic solution for their own interests, which is rupture with the EU and with the current path of development.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Communists of Catalonia, 2015 municipal elections results

The results of today’s municipal elections show a point of inflection in the political evolution in our country. The significant triumph of the “Unitat Popular” groups in the main cities opens a new horizon of possibilities for the Working class and the rest of popular classes that conform the immense majority of the citizenship. For the upcoming period, the communists have a clear strategy to develop from this moment: Unitat Popular.

Communists of Catalonia (Comunistes de Catalunya) consider us participants of the unitary process that has made possible the progress of the popular candicies. Fruit of a long and fertile debate, we have bet for the Unitat Popular in all those municipalities where it has been possible, but we have never abandoned our commitment towards Esquerra Unida i Alternativa and the coalition with Iniciativa per Catalunya-Verds, from which we have accumulated a rich and valuable experience.

Results review

Communists of Catalonia celebrate the excellent results of the Barcelona en Comú candidacy, led by Ada Colau, in which we have taken part actively. Likewise we celebrate the entry of our comrade and number ten of the Barcelona en Comú list Mercedes Vidal to the consistory. We also celebrate the excellent results of the unitary candidatures formed by Unitat pel Canvi in Sabadell, Canviem Mollet, Terrassa en Comú, Movem Castelldefels, and so many other initiatives for the change. We are satisfied by the results of Canviem L'H, conformed by ICV-EUiA and Pirates de Catalunya. We congratulate ourselves aswell for Guanyem Badalona en Comú excellent results, where militants of from Communists of Catalonia take part.

Communists of Catalonia celebrate the good global results of the ICV-EUiA coalition. It has been the most voted candidature again in Montornès del Vallès, Esplugues del Llobregat and in Prat de Llobregat; and it has had some very significant results in municipalities like Sant Boi del Llobregat or Montcada i Reixac. We congratulate ourselves for the overall good results obtained by the coalition in the municipalities with most population in Catalunya, although we value critically the results obtained in some municipalities of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, where we have a big task to do.

Likewise, we are glad for the results obtained by popular candidatures of all over the State like Ahora Madrid, sample of the generalized change of trend that lives the society as a consequence of the decadence of the regime of the 2nd Borbonic Restoration.

Globally, Comunistes de Catalunya value very positively the progress of the left political strengths who want to break with our regime and who will not fail to remark that the best results have been obtained where we have had a united popular candidature. We consider that these results give us the deserved support, to all those people who have defended the Popular Unit in front of the reactionary strengths as the only exit for the definitive demolition of the 78’s regime.

A Call to Popular Unity

For us communists, the conditions are given for a big alliance of the popular classes around a single candidature to finish the regime at the next elections for the Generalitat de Catalunya (which CiU will most probably delay) and for the next general elections in the Spanish State, scheduled for this autumn. This candidatures will only be useful if they are the expression of the organized Working class and of those avant-garde sectors among the popular classes, provided aswell that they come accompanied by sociopolítical movement of confluence from the base, which is backed up by class unions and the social movements.

That's why Comunistes de Catalunya are begining to work for the Popular Unit and we make a call to all the left strengths and to the base militant people to build together a new social majority. A new majority which need to be as wide as possible, both in Catalonia and in the State, and which must aim at getting the maximum strength from the left wing around a commitment to break with the regime of the 78. A new majority built around a common political program, ambitious in the social plan and in the national one, and that has to have as a priority the development of a citizen rescue plan that give answers to the important social crisis that we are living. A new majority which must allow the development of a Constituent Process of the Catalan Republic and a Constituent Process of a new federal reality, both within the Spanish State and Europe. A new majority that must set the bases of a Democratic Revolution.

@Comunistes with the #PopularUnit for the #DemocraticRevolution
#DemocraticRupture #ConstituentProcess #CatalanRepublic

CP of Malta Statement

The Communist Party of Malta supports the environmental coalition “Front Ħarsien ODZ” in its struggle against the proposed development outside the development zone (ODZ) in Marsascala. The Government has failed to be a catalyst in the safeguarding of the natural environment and the common good. 
“The introduction in Malta of an elitist tertiary educational institution is a direct threat to the public educational system. The market forces are doing their utmost to dismantle the present public tertiary educational system to a corporate model. Profit making is their ultimate agenda”. 
The Party said that “education should not be used to push forward social and economic divergences. The neoliberal strategy in the educational sector is also being proposed in the EU-US Transatlantic Partnership Agreement and in the Bologna Process”. 
The Communist Party of Malta appeals to all the progressive forces in Malta to support an egalitarian public educational system. We should not let education to become a commodity.

Victor Degiovanni
Communist Party of Malta

Monday, June 1, 2015

People's News

Latest issue of the People's News is out now covering profits and privatization, EU secrecy, the latest on TTIP and everything you need to know about the EU.


Communist and gay rights activist celebrated

Solidarity lies at the heart of the film Pride. It is a film about the seemingly unlikely alliance between a mining community in Wales and the London Lesbian and Gay group “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.” This is a true story, and the hero of this film is Mark Ashton, a communist from Co. Antrim. 
     Pride is a tremendous film—historically true, passionate, and funny. The writer, Stephen Beresford, said about the significance of choosing this moment in history as the subject of the film: “The mining communities are like the last bulwark in the industrial working class. They represent a group that is being eradicated by the new world, and this is the last stand-off.” 
     It is a historical fact that the charismatic Ashton was joint founder of the first LGSM group, from which sprang a total of eleven groups in Britain. It is also true that these groups raised an amazing £20,000 for the strikers. LGSM was the greatest single financial supporter of the miners during this longest strike in the history of the British working class; and they did so at a time when Thatcher’s government had sequestered the funds of the miners’ union so that the strikers would not get their strike pay, having described the miners’ families as “the enemy within.” 
     Donations could no longer be sent through the union’s national office, so Ashton’s London LGSM group twinned with the village of Onllwyn in the Dulais Valley. They visited the miners and their families in solidarity and to deliver food, money, and other supplies. And they made friends with them. 
     Ashton was one of the first to recognise the common cause between the two communities, both under attack from Thatcher, her subservient police force, and Murdoch’s homophobic and anti-union press. “Mining communities are being bullied, like we are, being harassed by the police, just as we are. One community should give solidarity to another. It is really illogical to say, ‘I’m gay and I defend the gay community but I don’t care about anything else.’” 
     Mark Ashton’s insight was what set the whole LGSM movement in motion. 
     The miners understood this gesture of solidarity. Their community’s representative, Dai Donovan, who was sent to London to collect the first donation, spoke at the spectacular “Pits and Perverts” benefit concert for the miners. He reiterated Ashton’s stance from the miners’ viewpoint. “You have worn our badge, Coal, not dole, and you know what harassment means, as we do. Now we will pin your badge on us; we will support you. It won’t change overnight, but now 140,000 miners know that there are other causes and other problems. We know about blacks and gays and nuclear disarmament. And we will never be the same.” 
     An older miner with wide cultural interests uses the image of the Great Atlantic Fault, the “dark artery” of coal that runs from south Wales to Pennsylvania, to express connections that exist below the surface. 
     Most of the characters in the film are based on real people. When Stephen Beresford began his research for Pride he tried to make contact with survivors of this time. He found a documentary, All Out! Dancing in Dulais, which LGSM made for the miners. This became an important source and inspiration for the characters. 
     The real people then also became involved with the film and have unanimously pronounced it to be a true reflection of the spirit of those times. Some took part in the re-creation of pivotal events in the film: the “Pits and Perverts” benefit concert and the 1985 Gay Pride parade in London, where they walk behind the actors. In 1985, buses of miners joined the parade. And even after the strike had been defeated, the miners and their union continued to champion gay rights. Solidarity really went both ways. 
     Pride does more than just relate the facts: it celebrates this moment in history with charisma, passion, and a tremendous sense of humour. It demonstrates in the lives of those involved at the time the potential for solidarity to transform people. The film salutes the courage and dignity of the oppressed, those who resist even in the face of an overwhelming enemy. The script celebrates the potential for humour as a source of strength and resistance. It uses dance as a galvanising force. It is a truly wonderful film. 
     I should not finish on a somewhat disappointed note, but I will. The fact that Mark Ashton was a communist is played down in the film. This is a shame. He was a communist from Ireland and general secretary of the Young Communist League from 1985 until shortly before his death from AIDS-related illness in February 1987, aged only twenty-six. If the film does not state this clearly enough, we do so on these pages, with Pride.

Jenny Farrell

Tom Redmond 1938–2015

Funeral Oration, Eddie Glacken, CPI

Friends and comrades, 
     It is hard to come to terms with the fact that Tom is no longer with us; it’s hard to envisage a world without Tom. His loss is a bitter blow to the CPI. He has been present in every struggle waged by the Irish working class for over half a century. 
     Tom didn’t lick it off the stones. 
     His grandfather John James Redmond was born in Dublin about 1880 and served his apprentice­ship to the engineer­ing trade in the Camel-​Laird shipyard in Liverpool-​Birkenhead. John was a founder-​member in 1920 of the Irish Engineer­ing Industrial and Electrical Trade Union, fore­runner of today’s TEEU. In fact he had been instru­mental in secur­ing a loan from Constance Markievicz, Minister for Labour under the first Dáil, to facili­tate the establish­ment of an Irish trade union for engineer­ing workers, following serious dis­satisfaction with the British-​based Amalgamated Society of Engineers. 
     Tom’s father, Seán, a former IRA member, joined the Commun­ist Party on its re-​formation in 1933. He was also involved in the Republican Congress. Like many young pro­gres­sives at the time, Seán wanted to go to Spain to fight fascism with the Inter­national Brigade. Tom told me recently that “Peadar O’Donnell prevented Seán senior going to Spain; that probably saved his life, and maybe mine too!” That’s another debt the people of Ireland owe to Peadar O’Donnell! 
     Tom was born in Dublin in 1938. They were tough times, economically and politi­cally. Tom went to school in Westland Row and, as he says, found his way from Westland Row to the party book­shop in Pearse Street at sixteen years of age—a short distance to walk, a huge leap for a teen­age lad in the Dublin of the 50s. Armed with the sage advice of his father, “Question every­thing: take nothing for granted,” Tom embarked on his life-long political crusade which would endure for over sixty years. 
     In 1957 the family were obliged to emigrate to Britain. Tom spent the next eleven years heavily involved in progres­sive politics in London and Manchester through the Commun­ist Party of Great Britain. His main area of involve­ment, together with other family members, was with the Connolly Association. 
     The Association was amongst the first to raise the issue of demo­cratic rights in the North. As Joe Bowers from Belfast, long-time party activist and an early member of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Associ­ation, said to me recently, “Tom was active on the question of civil rights in Northern Ireland before we were.” An example of the type of activity under­taken by the Connolly Associ­ation was a march from London to Birmingham in the scorch­ing hot summer of 1961 when fourteen marchers, including Tom, Seán and Áine Redmond, high­lighted the situ­ation in the North. Their demands were for the repeal of the Special Powers Act, an inquiry into the Govern­ment of Ireland Act, amnesty for republican prisoners, and recognition of the ICTU by the Stormont regime. Thirty years later Tony Coughlan said, “These can truth­fully be said to have been the first Irish civil rights marches.” 
     On his return to Ireland in 1968 Tom immedi­ately joined the Irish Workers’ Party and became a member of its Execu­tive Com­mittee. As such he was involved in the discus­sions with the comrades in the CPNI which led to the re-​establishment of the all-​Ireland CPI in Belfast in 1970. Tom was subsequently elected vice-​chairperson of the united party and remained a member of its National Execu­tive Committee up until his death. 
     Central to Tom’s political understanding was a recognition of the correct­ness of Lenin’s dictum that “without a revo­lutionary theory there can be no revo­lutionary move­ment” and the necessity for a revo­lutionary party of the work­ing class which could politically inform the day-to-day struggles of the people, link­ing them together in the over­all struggle for independence and socialism. 
     From the Unity Congress in 1970, Tom was a member of the party’s NEC and NPC, sometime editor of the Irish Socialist and the theoretical journal Irish Socialist Review. Widely read, he had a profound grasp of Marxist theory, of the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and—a particular favourite of Tom’s—Antonio Gramsci. Unsurprisingly, given his own family history, he had a deep knowledge and under­stand­ing of Irish history and of the inter­national working-​class movement. Like his great hero James Connolly, Tom was, in Gramsci’s famous term, an “organic intellectual”—a largely politically self-​educated working-​class man with a vast range of interests and an intellect which was second to none. 
     But Tom was no arid theoretician. Always, his views were informed by his involve­ment as a CPI strategist in the great campaigns of the time but also as an activist in the day-to-day struggles of the people. 
     Down all the years Tom has left his mark on every struggle, every issue, every campaign which could contribute to the achieve­ment of Connolly’s dream of an Ireland free, united, and socialist. He campaigned against entry to the Common Market and the various and nefarious subsequent referenda, he was active in the Resources Protec­tion Campaign, he was one of the architects of the short-​lived Left Alternative, whose manifesto “Go to Work, Ireland” was launched at a mass meeting of over a thousand people in the Mansion House, at which Tom spoke for the Commun­ist Party. He was chair­person of the Dublin United May Day Com­mittee, itself a coalition of left political and com­munity groups which managed to mobilise two thousand on highly political May Day rallies before the Trades Council took over the organisation of May Day. 
     Tom has always been an active trade unionist. From his involve­ment in the Bray Branch of the Workers’ Union of Ireland and the Bray Trades Council in the early 70s, through No. 17 Branch of the FWUI and the Execu­tive Com­mittee of the union, Tom’s involve­ment can be seen through the pages of his friend Francie Devine’s massive work on the centenary of SIPTU, Organising History. In it can be traced Tom’s signifi­cant contri­bution at WUI and FWUI confer­ences through the 70s and early 80s, fighting the good fight on issues like partition, civil rights, support for ICTU campaigns in the North, the protec­tion of our national resources, opposition to centralised bargain­ing, nationalisation of the banks, against repres­sive legis­lation, opposition to coalition, support for the Anti-​Apartheid Movement, opposition to EU members­hip, defence of Irish sovereignty and neutrality. Two things in particular stand out for me from those years; first was Tom’s active com­mit­ment to the battle for women’s equality in the union, the struggle for a Women’s Com­mittee and a Women’s Con­sulta­tive Confer­ence; secondly was his contri­bution to the sharp clashes with two-​nationist ideologues who sought to turn the union away from the traditions of Connolly and Larkin. 
     Another notable area of involve­ment for Tom was in Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence. This important initia­tive was largely driven by Tom’s brother Seán, general secretary at the time of the Irish Munici­pal Employees’ Trade Union and former Secretary of the Connolly Associ­ation. TUIUI had an impres­sive list of over forty leading trade union officials and repre­senta­tives from all the major unions. It campaigned for support for a Bill of Rights in the North, endorse­ment of the MacBride Principles, which sought to ban invest­ment by US pension funds in companies which engaged in religious discrimi­nation, and support in the Irish and British labour move­ments for an end to repres­sion in the North and a British Declaration of Intent to with­draw. Significant progress was recorded in the British trade union move­ment and in the active support of trade unionists in the USA through our friends in the Irish-​American Labour Coalition. Progress was also achieved in the trade union move­ment here in beat­ing back the assaults of the two-​nationists and those who sought to ban even discus­sion of the national question. 
     In more recent years Tom con­tinued to stand in the vanguard of the Connolly tradition, acknowledging the essential comple­men­tarity of the national and social ques­tions, trying to regain for the labour move­ment the position which Connolly had won for them in the van of the national independence move­ment, bringing together the best elements of the social­ist and republican traditions. To this end he was centrally involved in the estab­lish­ment of the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum. Apart from the essential politics, the Forum was near to Tom’s heart, as he liked nothing better than open and honest debate and clash of opinions. As he was known to say, “There are no enemies on the Left, only rivals.” 
     True to his trade union roots, although long retired from “active service” in the move­ment, he actively supported the estab­lish­ment of the Trade Union Left Forum as a place and a space where trade union social­ist activists could come together to discuss and debate how to restore class politics at the heart of the trade union movement. 
     There are so many strings to Tom’s bow it’s almost impossible to even list them: his profound inter­national­ism, his support for and solidarity with all those fight­ing imperial­ism, from the Soviet Union and the other social­ist countries to heroic Vietnam and Cuba, from South Africa to Venezuela and Palestine. 
     With Kate he established Aonad Computer Services Co-Op, an early example of a demo­cratic social enter­prise which provided, usually for the first time, IT hard­ware, soft­ware and train­ing for the trade union, volun­tary and com­munity sectors. But that too had a politi­cal dimen­sion, Tom being heavily involved in the Feder­ation of Workers’ Co-​operatives and as a member of FÁS’s Co-​operative Development Council. 
     Later, at an age when most people are reaching for the pipe and slippers (or, in Tom’s case, John Player’s Blues!), Tom moved into the world of com­munity develop­ment. He was employed by his good friend and comrade Seanie Lambe in the Inner City Resource Group on a three-​year contract, which subsequently stretched to ten years. As Seanie says, Tom was a “natural” at the work and was liked by all he came in contact with. Working with poor and dis­advantaged com­munities, he organised, facili­tated and led consul­tations on issues like plan­ning, housing and health. He produced an anti-​racist video; he organised funding for holidays for the elderly. Later he worked with the late Inez McCormack on a cross-​border project on Partici­pation and the Practice of Rights. 
     “Tireless” doesn’t even begin to describe Tom. Latterly he has been chair­person of the manage­ment com­mittee of the Dublin 12 Congress Un­employed Centre and threw him­self with energy and enthusiasm into the Right to Water campaign. 
     Non-sectarian, principled, open, tolerant, a powerful speaker but also a good listener, always reach­ing out to people—including those critical of the party—modest, devoid of ego, an out­stand­ing com­mun­ist and a rare and excep­tional human being, Tom is the revo­lution­ary we should all aspire to be. I would like to issue an invi­ta­tion to friends and comrades here who have soldiered with Tom and been touched by his passion and integrity: you can pay no greater tribute to Tom than to join the party to which he devoted his life, the Commun­ist Party, and help it to become a party worthy of Tom. 
     I will conclude this tribute by quoting the young Soviet communist and writer Nikolai Ostrovsky: 
     “Man’s dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no tortur­ing regrets for wasted years, never know the burn­ing shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he may say: all my life and all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world—the fight for the Liberation of Mankind.” 
     That was Tom. 
     Farewell, dear friend and comrade.