THE WORKERS' PARTY OF IRELAND

Death of John Madden, Cork

Veteran of 1950s border campaign passes away.

John Madden
the late John Madden

The death occured on 19th April 2009 of comrade John Madden of Turner's Cross, Cork.
 
John had been ill for some time but his death still comes as a great loss to his friends and comrades in Cork and around Ireland.
 
John Madden was born into a large family to parents Joseph and Mary Madden on the southside of Cork in the early 1930s. The family was strongly republican but also strongly class conscious and it was no surprise that John joined the republican movement as a youth.  In 1956 he was one of a group of Cork IRA volunteers who participated in the Border Campaign but was ultimately captured and spent several years interned at Belfast's notorious Crumlin Road prison.
 
After his release from internment John returned home and immediately became active again in the republican movement. He soon became an organiser for the movement and strongly supported the move towards a socialist position being promoted by people like Cathal Goulding and Tomás MacGiolla.  John had been interned with Sean Garland, Des O'Hagan and others who were promoting a left position and he remained loyal to the Goulding during the 1969 / 70 split.
 
John was a candidate for Sinn Féin (Official) in 1974 and almost succeeded in being elected onto Cork Corporation for the South Central Ward.  He remained a solid supporter of the Workers Party right throughout his life.
 
John was not the only member of his family active in the republican movement. Several of his brothers were also involved, including his brother Barty who died last August.
 
The following oration was given at John Madden's funeral by his longtime friend and comrade Sean Garland, member of the Ard Comhairle of the Workers Party and former Party President:-
 

A Chairde

 

Nuair a chuala mé go raibh John Madden básaithe bhí an bhrón orm.  Comrádaí agus cara dhilis domsa le caoga blain anuas b’é John. Cuireann bás John isteach go mór ar a chlann agus ar a chairde.  Fear ciúin croga macánta atá imithe.  Már a deirtear, ní bheidh a leithéid aris againn.

 

It is a privilege and an honour for me to say a few words to the memory of John Madden.  To his brothers and sisters – Sheila, Eddie, Gerry and Barry and to his large extended family – on behalf of the Ard Comhairle, members and supporters of the Workers’ Party - we convey our most sincere sympathy on their, and indeed our, great loss.

 

It is with deep sadness that we are gathered here to say farewell to a loyal comrade and friend, a man much loved by his family and all those who met with him over his lifetime.

 

My own experience of meeting with, and getting to know, John Madden began in Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast in the late 1950s and over the course of the following years, I came to know a comrade who was serious and always concerned as to how the Irish people and the working class in particular could achieve freedom and justice in this world.

 

John was a man who did not give his mind to many; he was quiet and was a great listener.  Never hasty in his judgements he was very well respected by all his fellow prisoners.  His contribution to debates was always considered and to the point.

 

In the years following his release from prison he was always available to help in the rebuilding of the movement into its development of The Workers’ Party.

 

All of what John did in life, in work and in politics, was based on an inherent integrity which he inherited from his parents, Joseph and Mary.  As part of a large family he learned the hard way that the working class had to be united and most importantly conscious of their class and of who the enemy is.  The Madden family have a proud tradition through many years of their involvement in the struggle for a united Socialist Irish Republic.  Barthy and John who left us within a very short space of time demonstrated over their lives the very best examples of working class heroes and we, in the Workers’ Party, are the poorer for their passing. 

 

As a nation we are living in very difficult times.  Attack after attack is being made on workers and their families while the banks, developers, speculators and politicians who caused the crisis are being allowed to escape any consequences.

 

In this week the 93rd Anniversary of the Easter Rising it is to men like John Madden, whom we look to, who over the many decades along with other fine comrades – Malachy McGurran, Martin O’Leary, Desmond Swanton, Cathal Goulding – refused to accept the status quo to which the working class had been consigned.  John Madden had no hesitation on taking up the policies and strategies which Cathal Goulding, especially, called for and brought about their adoption by the Party.  To me and to many other comrades in the Party, John Madden was a Republican in the tradition of Wolfe Tone - the unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter, a Socialist in the tradition of James Connolly – the working class are the incorruptible inheritors of the fight for Irish freedom.  It is a matter of great sadness that John’s last years were blighted by the dreadful illness of Alzheimer’s which deprived him of the ability to play a full and meaningful role in life.

 

As we face an uncertain future with constant attacks on public sector workers -teachers, nurses, Gardaí, fire fighters, county and city council workers who are daily being called upon to make more and more sacrifices whilst the greedy are allowed to escape any punishment it is time for workers and their families to realise where their true interests lie.  It is with each other, to work together against a common enemy and in the coming June elections to kick out those who have brought such hardship and suffering on the most deprived section of society.

 

Let me leave you with this thought – the John Madden I knew and admired as a comrade and friend knew that it is not the task of the working class or of any Left Party to save capitalism.  Rather it is their duty to abolish capitalism and to replace it with a system which puts the needs and concerns of people first and foremost in a new society of Socialism. 

 

Thank you comrades and friends.

 

Peace, Work, Democracy & Class Politics