Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tony Gregory- a decent man but tough opponent

The death of Tony Gregory this week was not unexpected to those of us in political circles but has taken most people by surprise. The last time I met him was at the launch of the book dedicated to Seamus Pattison's life in politics in Dail Eireann back in October. Tony looked visibly ill at the time but still had that twinkle in his eye.
I began my political life in Dublin Central. I knew Tony's core team members like Mick Rafferty, Seanie Lambe and of course my union colleague and now TD Finian McGrath. They were a hugely committed group of people who worked their socks off for what was then and still is the most deprived part of the country.

They were joined in that work by a series of Labour Party figures, most notably Joe Costello TD, his wife Emir and many others. In fact Dublin Central Labour has produced two other TD's who moved to neighbouring constituencies in Roisin Shortall and Joan Burton and the writer as a Councillor in Carlow/Kilkenny.
Tony was buried today in Dublin and as usual had the last word. The tribute speech at his final mass castigated those politicians who praised him loudly in the past week but had done so little to support those he represented during his lifetime in politics.

A real tribute to Tony Gregory would be the ending of the endemic poverty of the North and South Inner cities in Dublin, in Southill and Moyross in Limerick and in countless other ghettoes of local authority housing in our cities and towns, including here in Kilkenny.

The hypocrisy of a right-wing media which canonises Gregory, idolises Joe Higgins, but continues to attack real radical and left-wing policy aternatives to our current outdated Thatcherite economic model is also breathtaking. The attitude seems to be that a few colourful socialists in the Dail are OK but not if the things they believe in come close to be implemented.

Let's remember that the aim of Connolly and Larkin whose starry plough flag draped Tony Gregory's coffin today was the transformation of Irish society to win equality for all.

Ar dheis De go raibh anam Tony ach go dtiocfadh a chuid aidhmeanna i bhfeidhm chomh luath agus gur feidir.


Dermot Looney said...

Seán - your post is spot on the mark. The hypocrisy is excruciating. The Herald's '8-page special' featuring gushing tributes from all manner of politicians and commentators who stand in steadfast opposition to the entire philosophy promoted by Tony Gregory in his political life was beyond sickening.

seankk said...

God Dermot we must get you injured more often. That was a lightning reponse.Seriously I agree wholeheartedly with you. I gave up buying the O' Reilly rags years ago but I'm sure Tony would appreciate the irony of gushing tributes from the paper that hammered his neighbours in 1913. Venceremos!

Mark Coughlan said...

I don't one member of the media who idolises Joe Higgins. Almost every mainstream journalist I've met sees him as a laughable head-in-the-clouds type figure.

Cathy KK said...

Didn't see you there at the funeral Sean, did you travel at all?
Did you hear that Minister for Integration, Conor Lenihan, was asking people beside him in the church what was that flag draped on Tony's coffin?
It was left to some Garda Superintendent to explain to the minister the significance of the Starry Plough.

seankk said...

No Cathy. First day back and all that.Would like to have gone. No surprise at Lenihan's ignorance. There was never much socialism in the Athlone FF camp. Hope things are good with you.