8 Jan 2009

Ecosocialists mourn death of Socialist member of parliament

Here is an interview on Irish television with the veteran Irish socialist TD (Member of Parliament) Tony Gregory, who has died aged 61. Gregory represented one of the poorest areas in Ireland for 26 years, the inner city area of Dublin and was briefly my TD, when I lived there in the early 80s. He shot to prominence at that time when he held the balance of power and probably achieved more as an independent at that time than the Greens have with 3 government ministers, who also currently hold the balance of power in the Dail (Irish Parliament).

The Irish President, together with several government ministers, attended his funeral, as indeed did most of the Irish parliamentary Green Party. He was a thorn in the side of the establishment, and his comments on the Celtic Tiger (the Irish government is currently slashing public spending savagely because of the economic collapse) poverty in the inner city, the drugs problem, Northern Ireland and the mass emigration and poverty in Ireland from the 50s to the 80s are revelatory.

At his funeral, his friend, giving the oration, remarked that Gregory did not want his funeral turned into “a photo opportunity”, knowing full well that the political establishment who ostracised him during his life, would try and bask in his reputation. While seriously ill he appealed for speaking time in the Dail to argue against education cuts and was refused. He was also the first Irish TD to place a motion condemning the proposed invasion of Iraq. In short, he was a charismatic and inspirational figure, who remained close to the working class community where he lived, and who continued to elect him to parliament for 26 years until his death.


Joseph Healy

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