Tribute to International Brigaders

Report by Lynda Walker

The inspiration instilled by the International Brigaders was evident this weekend [4–6 December 2009] in Belfast and Derry, where memorial events were held for Bob Doyle and James Larkin (Jack) Jones, who died earlier this year. There was standing room only in the Unite Hall, where Daniel Gray, author of the book Homage to Caledonia, gave a lecture.
     His book was based on the experience of the Scottish Brigaders, but Gray brought in many references to the Irish connection. Alongside Daniel Gray’s brilliant performance, Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of Unite, spoke about the two men and the ideals that they had fought for. Mick Jones (Jack’s son) and Tabitha Doyle (Bob’s granddaughter) unveiled a statue. Mel Corry and Manus O’Riordan sang great working-class songs.
     The crowd moved to Writers’ Square, where a rededication was held at the memorial. Marlene Sidaway (secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust) and Kevin Doherty (secretary of the International Brigade Commemoration Committee) emphasised the need to fight racism and fascism today and every day. Mick Jones and Robert Doyle (Bob’s son) laid a wreath.
     There were many other relatives of brigadistas from Ireland and Britain, the youngest being Nancy Doyle (great-granddaughter). They laid individual flowers. Jackie Edwards, one of the few surviving Brigaders, came over for the event. Joe Mulheron sang his own “Connolly Column,” which left many with tears in their eyes. Manus O’Riordan, whose father, Michael, was an International Brigader, finished off with “The International.”
     On Sunday evening in Derry, in Sandino’s, Robert and Joel doyle (granddaughter) unveiled a wall statue and a “formidable” photo of Bob Doyle.
     The weekend incorporated the famous historical walk in Belfast, with Pearse McKenna, as well as scenic and cultural inputs.
     It was indeed a fitting tribute to Jack and Bob and all the brigadistas that went before.

• Video of the event

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