Sean Garland, former President of the Workers' Party pays tribute to Bill
Leahy, Socialist Internationalist
news of Comrade Bill Leahy’s death reached us two months after he died. An
American by birth, an internationalist in the true meaning of the word by conviction and family history, he spent a number
of years in Ireland during the 1970s.
During that time, he was an active member of the Party and his contribution was recognised by comrades from all over
Ireland. A modest and well-respected comrade he was insightful and clear as to the road the
Party had embarked upon, socialism.
from Chicago, a city with a strong
working-class history with many struggles against capitalism, he was well able to identify with the struggle of Irish workers
to build a united party and in turn unite the working class, north and south, through the principles of Wolfe Tone and those
of James Connolly. In a short obituary published in the Irish Times on Saturday
7th March some references are made to Bill’s family background and his development as a journalist and lecturer. Typical Irish Times begrudgery, they mention in passing “his involvement with
the Workers’ Party which led to him coming to the attention of the Special Branch.
Leaving Ireland under some
duress, he went to Cairo”. They fail to mention who it was that put him under duress.
the time that Bill spent in Ireland he was politically active with official Sinn Fein and also when it became Sinn Fein The Workers’ Party. He played a part in bringing about that critical development from a narrow nationalist
movement into a class-conscious Party. In the years following his departure from
retained close contact with the Workers’ Party and the friends and comrades with whom he had worked on the many political
problems of that time. He was generous in contributing financially whenever the
Party sent out an appeal for funds or to contest elections.
he became seriously ill he placed the Workers’ Party on his list of those who were to be kept informed as to his health. His illness gradually worsened and ultimately there was no means of communicating
with a friend and comrades who had spent his life in the field of communicating ideas and rendering assistance to so many
people who benefitted greatly from knowing and working with him. It was a very
savage twist of fate that robbed him of the ability to communicate at the end of his days which he spent in a rest home.
will remember Comrade Bill Leahy for his friendship, for his contribution to our cause of socialism, for his loyalty and his
patience and support to us at some very difficult times for Party members and indeed the Party.
think Bill Leahy’s life is well captured in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem “Success”.
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of
intelligent people and the
affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of
and endure the betrayal
of false friends.
To appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or
a redeemed social condition;
to know that even one life
has breathed easier
because you have lived
This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
can truly say that by any stretch Comrade Bill Leahy’s life was an outstanding success.
- Sean Garland, 9th