Spain pays homage to veterans of civil war brigades

 

HUNDREDS of veterans, including three Irishmen, received a heroes' welcome in Barcelona yesterday to commemorate their role in the Spanish civil war.

The 360 survivors, now mostly in their 80s and 90s, came from 31 countries as far afield Cuba, Russia and Argentina to receive honorary citizenship from a democratic Spain.

In a ceremony in the parliament buildings in Madrid on Wednesday, the veterans received a certificate of their right to obtain Spanish citizenship.

Mr Michael O'Riordan (79), one of three returning Irish veterans, in Spain with his children and grandchildren, said this was the high point of the visit. "It gave me such satisfaction to be sat in that parliament, because it is the very symbol of democracy that we came here to fight for 60 years ago".

Mr Peter O'Connor (84), from Waterford, left his job in a rubber factory in London in December 1936 to fight in Spain. He said: "They were the proudest moments of my life and we have been vindicated every day, we showed the lesson of unity, that unity can conquer anything."

About 40,000 men and women from more than 50 countries - including 145 from Ireland - volunteered to fight Franco.