Speech at the launch of his pamphlet, Peter O'Connor in 1996.
Friends and comrades
First I want to thank my own Manufacturing Science and Finance union, and SIPTU, and all those who helped to produce this booklet - and to thank all of you
who have been so kind as to come here tonight.
I look upon the launching of my booklet here not as an honour to
me but as an honour and tribute to the 144 Irishmen who fought
With me in the ranks of the Connolly Column of the International
Brigade and especially to the 59 comrades who made the supreme
sacrifice by leaving their life's blood on the battlefields of
Spain - among whom was our own Mossie Quinlan from South Parade.
(At this point Peter O'Connor read out, from his own booklet, the list of names of the ten Waterford men who had fought in the International brigade, of whom only he is still alive.)
[The existence of an 11th man, Harry Kennedy, was only discovered in 2004 by Dr Emmet O'Connor, Peter's son].
The great lesson of Spain was the lesson of unity, where Anti-fascists of every nation, of every religion and of none, united in a common cause to defeat Franco fascism. We must strive for that unity today if we are to be successful in gaining the freedom of our country. I believe we can't be successful in that
task unless we join forces with the british working class. We must make common cause with our comrades across the water. Our enemy is not the british people but the system of British Imperialism and monopoly capitalism which is the enemy of all peoples struggling to be free.
We volunteers who went to Spain were all, in the words of Frank Ryan, our gallant commander, "Soldiers of Liberty". Those of us who survived returned to our respective countries not for celebrations in our honour, not to rest, but to continue the fight we helped to wage in spain; we were merely changing the
fronts and our weapons. That fight is still necessary today when Fascism is once again raising its ugly head.
Peter O'Connor 8.3.96
Connolly Hall, Waterford
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