President Higgins and friends pay tribute to Cormac Ó Braonáin

19-year-old died after being struck by Luas at near Charlemont Bridge on Sunday morning

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the chairman of Labour Youth Cormac Ó Braonáin, who died after being struck by a Luas early on Sunday morning.

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the chairman of Labour Youth Cormac Ó Braonáin, who died after being struck by a Luas early on Sunday morning.

 

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the chairman of Labour Youth Cormac Ó Braonáin, who died after being struck by a Luas early on Sunday morning.

The 19-year-old died after being struck by a Luas at Peter’s Place near Charlemont Bridge on the south side of Dublin at about 3am on Sunday morning.

Mr Ó Braonáin studied Political Science and International Relations with History at University College Dublin and was also heavily involved in the campaign to re-elect President Michael D Higgins.

In a statement, the President said he has been “deeply saddened by the tragic news of the untimely death”.

President Higgins added that the student’s “energy, idealism, generosity, creativity and commitment to social justice and his vision of a kinder, more just society were exemplary. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.”

Rally for Peace

One of his last acts was to attend a Rally for Peace held in Dublin on Saturday and his final post on Twitter was a retweet from Labour Youth which said the organisation was “proud to stand with anti-racism groups and Trade Unionists at the #rally4peace. We stand in defiance to the growing trend in openly racist attitudes being expressed by some groups in Ireland, ” it read.

A day earlier, in the wake of the British General election, Ó Braonáin had written to his organisation exhorting them to not be too downhearted by the result which saw the British Labour Party slump to its worst defeat in decades.

“It’s going to be a very rough few days looking across the water,” he wrote. “It’s very easy to feel a sense of desperation and sadness but that’s what the Right thrive on.

“Across Europe we’re seeing a rise of the far right and Protofascism as a reaction to failing western global capitalism. We have to remember though that young people are more empathetic and accepting than they have ever been before. We have seen a mass mobilisation of young people across the globe to fight climate change.

“So this is to be yet another wake-up call for us all. We cannot afford to be complacent, we cannot afford to disengage and we cannot afford to let the spectre of the far right eat us up. Let’s fight back against the f**kers with radical policies and mass mobilisation. This is about more than Corbyn or Sanders or Arden or Howlin. This is about standing with ecosocialism, feminism and internationalism.

They shall not pass.”

‘Strong legacy’

The leader of the Labour Party Brendan Howlin paid tribute to Mr Ó Braonáin, and said he would leave “a strong legacy”.

“Cormac embodied all that was good about our movement and would have been a leading light in the future of our party, as he left no stone unturned in his drive for success,” Mr Howlin said. “Our grief and sadness are sharpened all the more by the wonderful memories we have of Cormac.”

A fellow member of Labour Youth Jack Merriman described Mr Braonáin as his “best friend and closest comrade”.

He said he “was so passionate and hard-working and he was going to change this country. You left us too soon, dear comrade, but we’ll keep the red flag flying for you.”

Former Labour leader Joan Burton expressed her shock and extended her condolences to the man’s parents, family and friends. “Cormac was already making an outstanding contribution to Labour as Chair of Labour Youth, the bye elections and recent local elections,” she said.

The SDLP leader Colum Eastwood mourned his “tragic passing” and newly elected SDLP MP for South Belfast Claire Hanna said he had been in Belfast two weekends ago “canvassing with us. A bright, engaged and motivated young person - thinking of his family and close friends after this tragic accident.”

‘Deeply saddened’

Green Party councillor Peter Kavanagh wrote that on Saturday he was “proud to stand with my comrade Cormac Ó Braonáin at the Rally For Peace. I was supposed to see him for a pint on Thursday. Gutted that he’s gone.”

Senator Frances Black said she was “deeply saddened” to hear of his death. passing of Cormac Ó Braonáin over the weekend and she extended “huge condolences to his family, and to all of his friends and comrades who worked with him in the Labour movement.”

Limerick City Councillor Conor Sheehan said he was devastated by the news. “I was only with him last Saturday in Belfast. A bright light in our movement destined for great things. A good friend and comrade who always had a story to tell with trademark wit and humour.”