Ben Murray: An Appreciation

W.H.McCullough, Workers’ Republic May 1938

By the death of Ben Murray, killed in Spain in defence of Democracy, the Communist Party of Ireland and the working class of Belfast, have lost one if its best fighters.

Ben, a native of Armagh, came to our Movement in 1934. Prior to that he had been for a number of years in Canada and had soldiered in a crack Canadian Cavalry Regiment during the Great War. He was a gifted speaker and was always sure of an attentive audience when speaking at Custom House steps or elsewhere in Belfast on behalf of the Communist Party of the unemployed.

As a salesman of Party literature, Ben had no rival. He readily recognised that this form of propaganda was easily the most effective and his enthusiasm for this type of work was simply terrific. He did not simply talk about it but spent hours and days going from door to door on the Shankill and Falls Roads, canvassing and selling the 'Irish Workers Voice', the 'Daily Worker'. and other Left papers. The results he obtained were a sure indication of the enthusiasm he put into his work as, where previously comrades on this class of work thought they were doing well when they sold a few dozen copes, Ben was selling in numbers of 20 dozen.

Unfortunately the program of 1935 interfered with this class of work and Ben began to get restless at the restricted activity and he asked permission of the Party in Belfast, to go to England. He was a big loss to our Party but a very big gain to the British Party as his work there on behalf of the Daily Worker proved.

I had not known that Ben had gone to Spain until one day I read in the Daily Worker of three members of the International brigade planting a flag in 'no man's' land to commemorate the anniversary of the Spanish Republic and one of them was Ben Murray.

Ben is dead and I believe that he would not have wished to die any other way. He once informed me in private conversation that his life did not really commence until he joined the Communist Party and that he had an interest now that was worth living and dying for.