Final salute to 'giant of the Irish Left' as MacGiolla is laid to rest
Published 09/02/2010 | 05:00
"A man of unrelenting principle and integrity" and "a giant of the Irish Left".
These were just two of a stream of tributes paid to former Workers' Party leader, Tomas MacGiolla, as he was buried yesterday.
A crowd of friends, supporters, activists and politicians attended the secular funeral in the Civic Centre in Ballyfermot, Dublin. The chief mourners were his wife May, sister Evelyn, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces.
The politicians in attendance included his longtime comrade and Ard Comhairle member of the Workers' Party, Sean Garland; Labour leader Eamon Gilmore; and Labour deputies Ruairi Quinn, Liz McManus and Roisin Shortall, Joe Costello and Dublin Lord Mayor Emer Costello, and former Lord Mayor Eibhin Byrne.
The Taoiseach and President were represented by their aides-de-camp.
During the two-hour ceremony, several eulogies were delivered about the 86-year old former president of Sinn Fein and later the Workers' Party, and former Dublin West TD and Lord Mayor of Dublin.
John Lowry, general secretary of the Workers' Party described Mr MacGiolla as "vivacious, passionate, human -- a visionary, a socialist, a republican, a true leader and a giant of the Irish Left."
Reverend Chris Hudson, a founding member of the Peace Train, drew laughter and applause when he recalled how the making of a TV show saw MacGiolla and leading loyalist and member of the Progressive Unionist Party, Gusty Spence, sitting side by side. Tomas was asked how he was getting on with Gusty. "Tomas responded as only he could do," said Reverend Hudson.
"He said they both enjoy the same good pipe tobacco, and that was enough to keep two men happy," he recalled to great laughter.