FORMER Workers’ Party leader Tomás MacGiolla was laid to rest in Dublin yesterday with an uilleann pipes lament and praise for his lifelong commitment to the unity of “Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter”.
A gathering of comrades and friends in a cold Palmerstown cemetery followed a secular celebration at Ballyfermot Civic Centre, in the heart of the community he served for many of his 86 years, 10 of them as a TD.
The building, which houses a citizens information centre and library was a fitting venue for the committed socialist and republican’s last public act. Since he assumed the leadership of a then united Sinn Féin party in 1962 MacGiolla had strove to put social issues and citizens rights to the fore in Irish politics.
Throughout yesterday’s music and eulogies MacGiolla lay in an open coffin shrouded in the tricolour and the starry plough flag of republican-socialism. On the stage behind the tricolour was flanked by the starry plough in both its blue and white and original green and gold versions, while two members of the Dublin Fire Brigade sat with a large gold mace and sword – symbols of MacGiolla’s 1993 tenure as lord mayor of his adopted city of Dublin.
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore, Siptu general president Jack O’Connor and Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh, were among the 500 mourners there to pay tribute.
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