De Rossa refuses to leave funeral

 

When he arrived at Glasnevin for Mr Goulding's funeral, the Democratic Left leader was told by some Workers' Party members he was not welcome. Some party members asked Mr Proinsias De Rossa to leave but he remained.

Mr John Jefferies, the WP press officer, told The Irish Times Mr De Rossa had "a brass neck being there" and would have been aware he was not welcome.

"Cathal Goulding's principles were betrayed by Proinsias De Rossa," he said. He wondered whether the Democratic Left leader's presence at the funeral was "out of guilt or part of some other agenda". Cathal Goulding, he said, "despised the actions of De Rossa and said a short time ago he saw the latest merger [of Democratic Left with Labour] as the ultimate betrayal of the working class".

Mr Jefferies said he believed Mr Tom Tynan, party chairman in Cork, had asked Mr De Rossa to leave the funeral. So did Ms Maureen MacMillan, a party member from Belfast whose brother-inlaw, Billy, was shot in the 1970s. She had asked him to do so "in no uncertain terms."

Mr De Rossa told The Irish Times he had been late for the funeral and was unable to get into the already crowded crematorium. Rumours that he had been refused admittance were not true, he said.

He stood outside the crematorium and listened to the ceremony on loudspeakers with many hundreds of others. He said he was approached by a man who was very emotional and who asked him to leave. He felt the man was speaking personally and not on behalf of the WP. Most other people there were welcoming. He ignored the man. It was not an occasion for doing otherwise. "Death is a leveller for everyone," he said.

Mr De Rossa said he wanted to be there as Mr Goulding had, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a great deal of the responsibility for turning the republican movement away from militarism. He had greatly influenced Mr De Rossa's thinking at the time. "That's why I wanted to be there," he said.