Irish Democrat, June/July 2006

Fighter 'personified the best' in Irish

Politicians throughout Ireland paid their respects to former IRA communist and international brigadier Micheal O'Riordan after he died in Dublin, aged eighty-eight, on May 18.

He was one of only two remaining Irish Republicans who fought against fascism during the Spanish Civil War.

Communist Party of Ireland general secretary Eugene McCartan said Mr O'Riordan personified the best anti-imperialist traditions of the Irish people. "The Communist Party of Ireland is saddened by his passing, but we are also proud of the huge contribution he made to our party, to the Irish working class and to the cause of socialism and of his legacy of unselfish sacrifice in the cause of the Irish and international working class," he said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: "Michael O'Riordan was politically active his entire life and an inspiration to all those who knew him. He was an active republican, internationalist and communist and a committed Gaeilgeoir."

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern expressed regret at the death of Mr O'Riordan, saying he had conveyed his good wishes to the survivors of the International Brigades when they held their AGM last year. Mr Ahern described Mr O'Riordan as a "fearless fighter for the labour movement throughout his life" and paid tribute to "one of those who were willing to make an enormous sacrifice in the fight for democracy in Spain in the 1930s."

Former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn said Mr O'Riordan "stood out against the tide of Irish conservatism and clerical domination that kept Ireland backward and isolated in the 1930s, 40s and 50s." Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary David Begg also paid tribute. "Michael was someone who selflessly dedicated himself to improving the lot of working people," he said. Mr O'Riordan is survived by his son Manus and daughter Brenda.

Irish Democrat, June/July 2006

Life and times of fighter for poor

By Democrat reporter

Michael O'Riordan was born in the West Cork Gaeltacht of Ballinderry, Gouganbarra in 1918. He grew up in Cork City where he joined the Fianna and the IRA. O'Riordan was a member of the Republican Congress and the Gaelic League and was friends with and . He joined the Communist Party of Ireland in 1935 while still in the IRA and worked on the communist newspaper Socialist Voice.

In 1936 O'Riordan went to fight fascism in Spain with the 'Connolly Column' which was absorbed into the XVth International Brigade. He saw action on all Fronts and was wounded at Ebro.

O'Riordan was offered an Army commission by the Irish Free State in 1938 but chose instead to train IRA units in Cork. He was interned in the Curragh Internment Camp from 1939 until 1943 where he was OC of the Cork Hut and partook in Gaelic League classes as well as publishing Splannc [Irish for Spark, named after Lenin's newspaper]. At the end of 1946 O'Riordan and his wife Kay Keohane, also a member of the CPI, spent their honeymoon visiting Irish republican prisoners in Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight.

O'Riordan worked as a bus driver in Cork and was active in the ITGWU. In 1947 he stood as a Socialist Party candidate and afterwards moved to Dublin where, in the 1960's, he was a pivotal figure in the Dublin Housing Action Committee. During this time he began writing for the Irish Democrat, submitting his last piece for the paper in April 2005.

He attended the 1966 International Brigades' Reunion in Berlin and was instrumental in organising the removal of Frank Ryan's remains from Germany to Ireland in 1979.

O'Riordan was a member of the Irish Chile Solidarity Committee and attended the 1st Party Congress of the Cuban Communist Party in 1984. He also campaigned on behalf of the Birmingham 6 and attended their Appeal trial in 1990.

The Corkman was long time Chairperson of the Communist Party of Ireland and published many articles under the auspices of the CPI.

A collection of articles about Mick O'Riordan