January 2013        

Seán Redmond


Seán Redmond, former general secretary of the Connolly Association, died on Saturday 15 December at his home in Drumcondra, Dublin, at the age of seventy-six, having been ill for some time.
     Seán came from a radical Dublin family. His grandfather, Jack, was the first president of what is now the TEEU. His father, also Seán, was a member of the IRA, of the CPI from 1933, and of the Republican Congress.
     In the late 1950s the family had to emigrate to England, and Seán and his brother Tom became active in the Connolly Association in London. Together they also joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. The Connolly Association had launched its campaign to expose the iniquities of the Stormont unionist regime among British labour, trade union and liberal circles. This campaign was based on the concept that the movement to end partition and bring about Irish national unity and independence needed allies in the British labour movement and the support of progressive public opinion in that country.
     In the early 1960s Seán became general secretary of the Connolly Association, and for the rest of that decade he did outstanding work in publicising the lack of civil and democratic rights in the the Six Counties and the responsibility of successive British governments for this. He represented the association on the executive of the National Council for Civil Liberties and of the Movement for Colonial Freedom.
     Because of his work in those years Seán Redmond may validly be considered one of the progenitors of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, which destroyed unionist hegemony. He later wrote the pamphlet Desmond Greaves and the Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland, which described the solidarity work in Britain in which he had played a leading part until the mid-1970s.
     This pressure from progressive British public opinion paralleled the pressure that came from within the North itself when the civil rights movement got going there in the period 1968–1970.
     On returning to Ireland, Seán worked as an official with the Local Government and Public Services Union, then with the Irish Municipal Employees’ Trade Union, both now part of Impact. He was one of the most influential organisers of that union and was greatly respected in Dublin labour and trade union circles for his political shrewdness, good sense, and political and industrial experience. He wrote the union’s official history, The Irish Municipal Employees’ Trade Union, 1883–1983, as well as Belfast Is Burning, 1941, the story of the assistance given by Dublin Fire Brigade following the German fascist bombing of Belfast.
     In the 1980s, together with some colleagues in other unions, Seán helped establish Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence. As well as being a full-time trade union official he was active in the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the committee of the Desmond Greaves Summer School, and the Irish Labour History Society.
     The attendance at Seán’s funeral in Glasnevin Crematorium was a fitting tribute to this outstanding socialist republican.

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