Paddy Murphy: A Full Llife

The death on 22nd March of Paddy Murphy of County Kilkenny will be a great loss to the Workers’ Party and the many other progressive organisations and causes that he supported and championed all his life.

A man of principle, of patience, perseverance and utmost loyalty, Paddy’s life was spent in the struggle to secure freedom and justice for the Irish working class, urban and rural.

When deprived of his freedom after the IRA Border Campaign of the 1950s, Paddy took this setback with his usual calm self. Prison made Paddy more determined than ever and on his release he encouraged other comrades to learn from mistakes; his priority was to make a worthwhile contribution to the struggle.

Over the better part of his life Paddy achieved this goal. Along with friends and comrades such as Cathal Goulding, Tomas MacGiolla, Malachy McGurran and Sean O’Cionnaith, he played a major and significant role in the transformation of Sinn Fein in the 1960s into a class conscious party of the Irish working class. He was part of the local fight in Inistioge, organising Fish-ins and exposing the injustice whereby local men and women could not fish in their local rivers without getting permission from the landlord.

Paddy recognised that sectarianism in the North creates division among the working class which enables the ruling class to maintain their power. He was to the forefront in supporting the Civil Rights Association in the North in their campaign for equal rights and was opposed to terrorism from whatever quarter, which only strengthens division and enables the ruling class to be seen as peacekeepers. For Paddy the North’s problems could only be solved with Tone’s doctrine – the Unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.

Paddy’s interest and involvement in the fight against capitalism and imperialism was worldwide, and he was to the forefront in supporting people of all continents in their struggles, such as marches for Vietnam, against apartheid South Africa and in solidarity with revolutionary Cuba. In a memorial newspaper produced on the death of comrade Sean O’Cionnaith in 2003 is to be found a photograph of the massive march against the war on Iraq held in Dublin March 2003. In the forefront of the march with their placards is Sean O’Cionnaith and, alongside him, our late and great comrade Paddy Murphy.

The George Brown Committee, to which Paddy dedicated much work in recent years, wrote that Paddy, “led a very full life and will be fondly remembered by his family, relatives and a large diverse circle of friends as a man committed to his community, a champion of Irish culture – language and music, and a Republican Socialist in the purest sense of the word. To those of us involved in the George Brown Memorial Committee, we shall forever be indebted to him for his unwavering belief that the lessons of the Spanish Civil War are a source of inspiration and guidance for those promoting true democracy in the modern world.”

Sean Garland

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