by Democrat reporter
POLITICANS THROUGHOUT Ireland paid their respects to former IRA communist and international brigadier Micheal O'Riordan after he died in Dublin, aged eightyeight, on 18 May.
He was one of only two remaining Irish Republicans who fought against fascism during the Spanish Civil War.
Communist Party of Ireland general secretary Eugene McCartan said Mr O'Riordan personified the best anti-imperialist traditions of the Irish people.
"The Communist Party of Ireland is saddened by his passing, but we are also proud of the huge contribution he made to our party, to the Irish working class and to the cause of socialism and of his legacy of unselfish sacrifice in the cause of the Irish and international working class," he said.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said:
"Michael O'Riordan was politically active his entire life and an inspiration to all those who knew him. He was an active republican, internationalist and communist and a committed Gaelgeoir."
Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern expressed regret at the death of Mr O'Riordan, saying he had conveyed his good wishes to the survivors of the International Brigades when they held their AGM last year. Mr Ahern described Mr O'Riordan as a "fearless fighter for the labour movement throughout his life" and paid tribute to "one of those who were willing to make an enormous sacrifice in the fight for democracy in Spain in the 1930s".
Former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn said Mr O'Riordan "stood out against the tide of Irish conservatism and clerical domination that kept Ireland backward and isolated in the 1930s, 40s and 50s".
Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary David Begg also paid tribute.
"Michael was someone who selflessly dedicated himself to improving the lot of working people," he said.
Mr O'Riordan is survived by his son Manus and daughter Brenda.
Veteran Irish communist laid to rest
ON SATURDAY 20 May traffic came to a complete stand still on Dublin's North side as Irish communists and republicans gathered to pay their last respects to Micheál O'Riordan.
Political activists and supporters travelled from all corners of Ireland to carry shoulder high the remains of Micheál O'Riordan from his son's home to the crematorium.
The entrance to the cemetery was thronged by activists from the Irish labour movement, Labour Party and Sinn Fein.
People travelled from Germany, England and Scotland to be there to pay their tribute to this giant of the Irish and international working class. Messages poured in from abroad expressing solidarity.
The Cuban Ambassador Noel Carrillo also attended, bringing a message from the Cuban government.
Four members of the Irish Daíl (parliament) as well as numerous local councillors from around the country also attended. A letter was read out on behalf of the Irish President Mary McAleese.
The crematorium was filled to capacity while the crowds outside listened on a public address system to the ceremony taking place inside.
General secretary of the Communist Party, Eugene Mc Cartan spoke of Micheál's outstanding contribution to the struggle of the Irish working class.
He described him as a fearless fighter, who had withstood many attacks, both verbally and physically, upon himself and the party over many decades.
O'Riordan, he said, had stood against the gales of reaction for over 70 years and never once buckled under the storms.
"Micheál was an uncompromising anti-imperialist to the very marrow of his bones", he added.
Comrade Mc Cartan recalled the last conversation he had with Micheál 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."
In a final comment in his tribute Mr Mc Cartan said:
"Well comrade O'Riordan your boat has sailed, you have left our company with your honour intact.
"For seventy 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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Copyright © 2006 Connolly Publications Ltd