New Worker International News - 26/10/2007 - by Dolly Shaer
Belfast celebrates International Brigades
DURING the week-end of October 12th to 14th in Belfast a number of events
took place to celebrate a part of Irish working class history.
Two or three years ago there was a committee set up to take action to erect
a memorial to those Irish men and women who went to fight another war, in
Spain, against fascism.
Many of those who went had had first hand experience of fighting for their
own freedom from the British occupiers of their own land. I remember being
told of this by Lynda Walker, a member of the committee and one of the
mainstays of this event, while in Spain a few years ago at a major
They named their committee the International Brigade Commemoration
Committee (IBCC). The committee organised fund raising events across both
communities, involving the trade unions, an International Women’s Day event,
concerts, production of saleable items and many individual donations.
The climax of this activity was the unveiling of a magnificent sculpture of
the head of a brigader wearing a Republican cap in bronze and about life
size. (And in my opinion the best memorial that I have seen.)
There were three veteran Brigaders present, Bob Doyle, the last Irish
Brigader, Jack Jones former general secretary of the Transport and General
Workers’ Union and Jack Edwards.
The unveiling took place in Writers’ Square in Belfast. The man who
performed the unveiling was veteran fighter and Brigader Bob Doyle.
Bob gave an address that pointed out that the fight against fascism is
still not finished, and still needed the working class to continue the fight
He also pointed out that the attack on the working class still goes on at
home, with the attacks on health, education and unemployment – and abroad
with the wars such as that in Iraq and other places.
Bob was introduced by the secretary of the IBCC, Kevin Doherty, who also
introduced the Irish Spanish war historian Kevin Crossey, who told of the
history of the events that motivated those who went.
There was also a little elderly woman introduced, Amaya Ruez Ibuarruri, who
is the daughter of that internationally honoured woman La Pasionaria,
La Pasionaria was the woman who spoke to the International Brigaders who
when they had their last march through Barcelona telling them “you are
history you are legend”.
Amaya told of how, when she went to unveil streets and places named after
her mother, people told her: “We need another La Pasionaria today”.
The previous evening there was a gathering at the Linen Hall Library where
there is an exhibition taking place on the Spanish Civil War. There is a
collection of documents memorabilia and letters. It is an excellent
Saturday afternoon there was a public meeting and civic reception at the
Grosvenor Hall. The Lord Mayor welcomed all. There were songs from two
choirs from local schools. Also present were Patricia McKeown, ICTU
President and Unison north of Ireland regional secretary.
Jack Jones, the honorary life president of the International Brigade
Memorial Trust, chaired the meeting. After the meeting the IBMT convened for
The day finished with a social and entertainment. Among the entertainers
were Brenda O’Riordan who played the Irish harp and Tommy Sands.
Further reports on the Belfast Memorial and the IBMT AGM