RONAN O'REILLY in the Daily Mail (London), May 22, 2006, Page 24

The final red flag salute for Comrade O'Riordan

IT WAS a fitting farewell to the grandfather of leftwing politics in Ireland.

Traffic ground to a halt as hundreds of people many of them carrying red flags escorted the Communist Party of Ireland's former general secretary on his final journey.

Michael O'Riordan was buried in Glasnevin Crematorium at the weekend.

He died last week aged 88 after falling ill more than a year ago.

While mourners crowded into the chapel at Glasnevin for the secular ceremony, hundreds more stood outside as his son Manus a prominent SIPTU official led the proceedings.

He told mourners how his father had joked about being born a week after the 1917 revolution in Russia when his own mother was forced into premature-labour by the seismic events in Petrograd.

The ceremony was punctuated by several rounds of applause as speakers recalled Mr O'Riordan's 'dogged' devotion to the leftwing cause.

Communist Party general secretary Eugene McCartan's voice faltered as he paid tribute-to the man he called 'Red O'Riordan'.

He told mourners that although the deceased had the 'talent and intellect to succeed in many walks of life', he had instead dedicated himself to the struggle of the working classes.

The congregation included Labour leader Pat Rabbitte, his predecessor RuairI Quinn and party frontbencher Joan Burton; ex-Workers' Party leader Toms MacGiolla; artist Robert Ballagh; former Fianna Fil MEP Niall Andrews; actors Patrick Bergin and Jer O'Leary; singer Ronnie Drew; and union leaders Mick O'Reilly and David Begg.

Mr O'Riordan, who was born into an Irish-speaking family in west Cork, joined the IRA as a teenager before signing up for the Communist Party.

In 1936, he travelled to fight against Franco's fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War and was later commended for his bravery after being wounded at the Battle of Ebro.

Ten years ago, he was awarded honourary citizenship of Spain.

His funeral ceremony which ended with son Manus leading a rousing rendition of the leftwing anthem The Internationale was partly conducted in that country's tongue.