Sir, - It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Cathal Goulding on St Stephen's Day. To me he epitomised the essence of socialist republicanism. He was a man of great foresight who saw the futility of armed struggle in the North 20 years before the current Sinn Fein leadership came to the same realisation.
In my opinion, his greatest contribution was his understanding that unification could be achieved only by the unity of the people, Protestant and Catholic. He was instrumental in the 1970s, when the North was on the brink of civil war, in convincing a sizeable proportion of the republican movement to turn their backs on sectarian warfare and in doing so was responsible for saving many lives. He also argued for left-wing unity and successfully, although briefly, engineered a broad alliance of progressive organisations to campaign against social injustices, something the present left appears to be unable or unwilling to try.
His passionate love of Ireland and everything Irish, his great humanism and his hatred of injustice particularly the inequality embedded in capitalist Ireland, encouraged a generation of young people, including myself, to reject capitalism and work towards the goal of a democratic socialist republic. When a true history of 20th century Ireland is written he will emerge as an important figure in Irish history, a "great man". Goulding was precisely that. - Yours, etc. John O'Neill,
Sillogue Road, Ballymun, Dublin 11.