independent

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Gralton's Ireland if he wasn't deported?

Bree poses questions at event marking memory of Ireland's only deported citizen

What if Jimmy Gralton and those like him had succeeded in overcoming the right-wing, intolerant, cowardly and spiritually crippled state which deported him, asked Cllr Declan Bree, when he addressed those attending the special Bonfire night event in Effrinagh, to commemorate the memory of the famous Leitrim socialist.

"Jimmy Gralton was denounced week after week in the churches. The hall he constructed was condemned as a communist centre and a danger to faith and morals. Those who frequented it were threatened by church and state." said Cllr Bree.

"Eventually the political establishment, in league with the hierarchy, not only ensured that the hall was burnt to the ground but also ensured that Jimmy Gralton would be silenced - deported and never allowed to return to his native land. Gralton was to be banished and his name written out of history. The writer John McGahern, pointed out that despite the fact that he grew up and went to school close to Effrinagh, he had never heard of Jimmy Gralton. He said it demonstrated one thing; the effectiveness of the conspiracy of silence and suppression around his name and life. As far as the establishment and the State was concerned Gralton had been deported, he had become a non-person. And history will tell us that many of Gralton's comrades in other parts of the country, were also silenced by that same state and by that same establishment.

"We can only ask ourselves today what if Gralton and those like him had succeeded in overcoming that right-wing, intolerant, cowardly and spiritually crippled state.

"Would we have had decades of gross exploitation and forced emigration?

"Would we have had a society that looked the other way when thousands of women from poor backgrounds, unmarried mothers, women with learning disabilities and girls who had been abused were forced to enter Magdalene laundries, where they suffered a shocking and cruel regime of terror and punishment behind locked doors?

"Would we have had, what the Commission on Child Abuse described as, the endemic rape and molestation of thousands of children in church-run industrial schools and orphanages? We now know that the same church and state that deported Jimmy Gralton did its utmost over the decades to cover up this torture and rape, this exploitation and appalling abuse. Jimmy Gralton was hunted and exiled from his native land because he dared to question the political establishment, because he refused to be dictated to by church and state, and because he sought social justice and a fundamental and democratic transformation of the political system. Today, we can only mourn the loss of what might have been." said Cllr Bree.

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