President receives veterans of the International Brigade

 

Four surviving veterans of the International Brigade attended events in Dublin at the weekend to commemorate Irish volunteers who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

The four veterans - Jack Jones (92) and Jack Edwards (91), both from Liverpool, and the last two surviving Irish members, Bob Doyle (89) and Michael O'Riordan (88) - were received by President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony outside Liberty Hall on Saturday, David Begg, general secretary of the Ictu, said Irish volunteers had gone to Spain to fight fascism at a time when many at home were indifferent, if not hostile, to their efforts.

"It took an extraordinary commitment on their part. What's commonly referred to as the Spanish Civil War was really a fight against fascism," he said.

Other participants in the ceremony included Siptu president Jack O'Connor, and Christy Moore, who sang his own composition, Viva la Quince Brigada, in honour of those who died in Spain.

Mr Jones, a former general secretary of Britain's Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "We did what we could."

At Frank Ryan's graveside in Glasnevin Cemetery yesterday, Manus O'Riordan, of the International Brigade Memorial Trust and son of Michael O'Riordan, rejected recent "sneering references" to Ryan as a "republican saint/Nazi collaborator . . . He warned against the development in Ireland of any sympathy for Hitlerism, and specifically denounced any anti-Semitic hostility towards Dublin's Jewish community."