ObituariesTradition

Tom Redmond: Communist, Trade Unionist & Republican

Tom was a committed and active communist, republican and trade unionist for over 7 decades involved in some of the most important struggles in Ireland.

Born in Dublin in 1938 Tom quickly found his way to the bookshop of the Communist Party on Pearse Street, as it was then, in the 1950’s just 16 years of age. His grandfather. John James Redmond, was a founder- member in 1920 of the Irish Engineering Industrial and Electrical Trade Union, forerunner of today’s TEEU. And his father, Sean, was an IRA activist who joined the Communist Party when it was refounded in 1933.

In the late 50’s Tom and his family were forced to emigrate to Britain where Tom would be involved in the Connolly Association and the CPGB (as it was then) for over 10 years. On his return to Ireland Tom joined the Irish Workers Party and was involved in uniting this party with the Communist Party Northern Ireland to found the current Communist Party of Ireland, of which he remained a party activist, aside from a brief spell of absence, until his death.

Involved in NICRA, in unemployed struggles, in the cooperative movement in Dublin, in tax marches and most recently in the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republic Forum and the Trade Union Left Forum Tom was an activist to the end with a vast experience which he freely, and unpatronisingly, shared with new and young activists.

Tom had a remarkable gift of questioning and thinking. Of using history and theory to understand and interpret but also chart paths forward. He truly was one of those rare organic working class self-taught intellectuals like his hero James Connolly.

The Trade Union Left Forum had this to say of Tom: “He embodied the living spirit of Marxism in both his activity and in his writings and thinking. He would always challenge himself and others to take on board new experiences and reevaluate the old in light of the new.”

And I think that view would be shared by most who knew him. Tom also had a lot of experience in the area of left unity and learned many lessons that people would do well to heed today. Elections are not a reason for left unity. Elections will not bring about left unity. Left unity should be built but on the basis of shared commitments and principles and not opportunism.

Tom led a life of unquestionable commitment to his fellow workers, his communities and his family. We would now do well to live up to his example.
– Gareth Murphy

Previous post

The Cavehill (for Des O'Hagan)

Next post

Thomas 'Jonty' Johnson