Morning Star, May 23, 2006

Irish left says last farewell to working-class champion

Traffic came to a complete standstill on Dublin's north side at the weekend when Irish communists gathered to pay their last respects to their former party leader Micheal O'Riordan.

Party members and supporters travelled from all over Ireland to carry, shoulder high, Mr O'Riordan's remains from his son's home to the crematorium.

The entrance to the cemetery was thronged by Irish labour movement, Labour Party and Sinn Fein activists.

People came from Germany, England and Scotland to pay tribute to this giant of the Irish and international working class.

Solidarity messages poured in from abroad and Cuban ambassador Noel Carrillo was also present, bringing a message from the Cuban government.

Four Irish MPs as well as many local councillors from around the country attended. A letter was read out on behalf of Irish President Mary McAleese.

The crematorium was filled to capacity, while crowds outside listened over a public address system.

Communist Party general secretary Eugene McCartan spoke of Mr O'Riordan's outstanding contribution to the struggle of the Irish working class.

Describing him as a fearless fighter, Mr McCartan recounted how he had withstood many attacks, both verbal and physical, upon himself and the party over many decades.

"No fair-weather socialist, he was someone who stood against the gales of reaction for over 70 years and never once buckled under the storms," he said, calling Mr O'Riordan "an uncompromising anti-imperialist to the very marrow of his bones."

Mr McCartan recalled the last conversation that he had had with Mr O' Riordan shortly before his death, when he said: "Eugene, I can neither go forward with you nor can I go back. My boat is about to sail."

Concluding his tribute, Mr McCartan said: "Well, comrade O'Riordan, your boat has sailed, you have left our company with your honour intact.

"For 70 years, you have stood firm and fought hard. Your honesty and your integrity remain unbroken and uncompromised. You have written your own pages in the history of the Irish working class."

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