Mick O'Riordan Tribute in Belfast

Report by Lynda Walker for Unity, Nov. 2006

The 'Tribute to Michael O'Riordan' held on the 19th of October 2006 in Belfast in the John Hewitt bar, was a great success with speeches from friends and comrades Edwina Stewart, Eugene McCartan and Cllr & former Lord Mayor of Sligo, Declan Bree. The three speakers depicted various aspects of Michael's life and the struggles that he faced. Music was provided by Pol McAidam and Mel Corry who sang some of the songs that reflect the anti-fascist war in Spain, including Jarama, Connolly Column, Jamie Foyers, Viva la Quince Brigada and so on. Brian Gormally sang 'Hans Beimler Kamerad' a song about the German Communist Party's Political Secretary for South Bavaria, and member of the Central Committee. Brian spoke about how Hans had escaped from Dachau in May 1933, and was killed in Spain fighting the fascists.

Lynda Walker read Brendan Behan's poem, the 'Red Envoy' and also read from an article that Michael wrote in 2003, about Behan, how in 1938 Michael had received a bundle of political literature from Dublin when he was in the Catalan town of Ripoll, serving with the XV International Brigade. An issue of The Workers Republic was among the papers, edited by Sean Murray, then the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, it carried the poem written "by a young Dublin worker age 16 years of age" (in fact Michael notes that Behan was not quite16 when he wrote the poem.)

Annette O'Riordan gave greetings from Manus, Michael's son, and spoke about Michael the family man, she sang Pulling Hard Against the Stream, and his grandson Neil read Charles Donnelly's poem 'The Tolerance of Crows'. Michael's daughter Brenda sent a message of thanks to the meeting saying how proud she was of her father and how he had given his children a great sense of feeling for international solidarity.

The event was held to pay tribute to a man who had contributed to the fight against fascism in Spain and it also gave people the opportunity to listen to the reactionary actions that communist in Ireland faced and the courage and conviction that Michael O'Riordan and others had in facing up to this reaction. Pol McAdaim completed the evening with the 'International'.

Among other books and pamphlets on sale was a Unity Special edition Tribute to Michael O' Riordan and a newly printed songbooklet, Their Songs Not Forgotten-Songs to Salute the International Brigade, both available from Unity Press. (3.00/4 Euros plus 1/ 1 Euro p&p)

The successful Tribute Night raised over 450 for the funds of the International Brigade Commemoration Committee.