April 2015        

Anne Casey

1956–2015

The Communist Party of Ireland extends its deepest sympathy on the death of Anne Casey to her husband, Colin, to her daughter, Aoife, and to her sisters and brothers.
     Anne Casey was a militant working woman, educator and activist who gave of herself to the cause of the Irish working class. She was an internationalist and a committed fighter against imperialism, a firm supporter of the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people and of solidarity with Cuba.
     Anne was born and reared in Kimmage, Dublin, in a strong working-class family, a family that was politically active, reared in a belief in the importance of trade unions and of being active in a union. She learnt at early age the importance for the working class of being united and organised to defend and to advance its own demands and interests.
     She participated in a six-month strike in the viciously anti-union company McDonald’s, winning the right to join the ITGWU. When the workers returned, Anne was informed that her job no longer existed. Her union took her case to the Rights Commissioner and won, with compensation.
     After the strike she went back to education and earned a degree in the National College of Industrial Relations. She then left Ireland to study at Keele University in England, where she earned a master’s degree. She became a tutor with the Trade Union Congress, becoming head of the Trade Union Studies Unit in Shrewsbury College. At the same time she was active in day-to-day struggles, understanding the conditions of workers. She was not a dry academic but rather acted and spoke to her students from her own real experience and that of workers.
     Education was her passion, in particular working-class education. She recognised that trade unions have an important role in educating and empowering their members.
     When Anne returned to Dublin she joined the Communist Party of Ireland and subsequently became a member of its National Executive Committee. She was responsible for organising the “Introduction to Marxism” lecture series both for new members of the CPI and for those interested in knowing more about this revolutionary ideology and weapon of struggle. She also wrote for the party paper, Socialist Voice.
     Anne believed that much of trade union education was for stifling and controlling shop stewards, teaching them how to operate within the law rather than empowering them to represent their members and building work-place organisation and independence. She was centrally involved in the drafting of the CPI pamphlet The Challenge for Trade Unionism, published in 2011, a stinging critique of the role and the disastrous effect of social partnership on the trade union movement that also presented an alternative way forward. She helped establish the Trade Union Left Forum, and was elected its first chairperson. The TULF has brought activists from throughout the trade union movement to combine political education with trade union action.
     Anne Casey was a kind and generous working-class woman whose energy and talents will be sorely missed by our class. We dip our banners in salute.

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