Sean Garland tribute to the late Tony O'Reilly

Workers' Party National Treasurer Seán Garland has paid the following tribute to the late Tony O'Reilly, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Tribute to Comrade and Friend Tony O'Reilly who died on Wednesday 5th December 2012 and delivered on Saturday 8th December 2012 by Sean Garland, National Treasurer Workers Party of Ireland in Colliers Funeral Home, Bray, County Wicklow.


Dear Colm, lan, Lorraine, Clare, Ellie, Alan, Lorraine, Yvonne, Louise, Irene and all of Tony's extended family, on behalf of the Ard Comairle and members of the party, we offer our most sincere sympathy on your and our loss,.


I little thought a fortnight ago, when I last spoke to Tony, that I would be here today speaking at his funeral. It is for me a great honour to speak about my friend and comrade Tony but in common with all here I would gladly forego any honour or reward to have our friend and comrade at home or in the pub talking to each other.


I first met with Tony O'Reilly, the man we mourn here today, in 1967 through politics. He was a member then of a united Sinn Féin and he stood as a candidate for the party in the Local Elections of that year. That was Tony's one and only foray into electoral politics. His talents and ability were to be of much greater value over the following years most especially in the field of publications, pamphlets, books and newspapers.


From that year of 1967 we established a great rapport and over the years this rapport deepened and strengthened. Politics was the strongest link between us and naturally over the years our friendship and comradeship enabled us to work together through many turbulent periods.


A great humanitarian and internationalist, Tony identified with the many millions of people throughout the world struggling for Justice, Freedom and Peace. Whether it was solidarity with Cuba, Vietnam, Korea or Palestine, to cite just some examples, there was never any doubt as to whose side Tony was on.


Here at home when the choice was between the narrow sectarian catholic nationalism of the Provisionals he stood against the sectarian monster which they created. He abhorred sectarianism and the terrorists of whatever religious persuasion who sought to turn worker against worker.


Down the years no matter what the problem was it was always good to talk to Tony and to discuss with him options. In my time in politics going back over the years I have met with the good, the bad and the petty. Tony stands out as being one of the best, a talented man, able, creative, skilled, hard working, dependable and totally loyal to his principles and politics. A quiet modest man he listened to people and one could trust his judgement.


In the 1960s he played a major role with some able journalists in turning the party paper, The United Irishman, into a readable and credible radical political paper. Over that period of time he was involved in producing many pamphlets, leaflets, posters and books which also played a significant part in winning support for the party. In recent years we had once again begun to produce printed material which was topical and relevant to the working class. His talents in layout and design were first class for he always produced striking yet clear images


Tony's most recent achievement was the production of "Letters from Long Kesh" written by Tony's old friend and comrade Des O'Hagan. He had also produced a Calendar "Socialist's' in History" which was very popular and we were discussing, in recent weeks, plans to reprint the late Sean Cronin's “Young Connolly" plus a new edition of the late Dominic Behan's "Teems of Times and Happy Returns".


Tony now joins a list of other friends and comrades who made a significant contribution to our struggle, men whom Tony knew, admired and worked with Malachy McGurran, Cathal Goulding, Tomás Mac Giol1a, all who as Tony did, devoted their lives to the ideals and principles of Wolfe Tone and James Connolly to build a society free from inequality and exploitation.


Tony has died at a relatively young age. He had so much more to give especially when he retired this year. I know he enjoyed his cruise on the Mediterranean and his visit to Italy, a country of which he had grown very fond. He was speaking to me, two weeks ago, about organising his yearly Christmas visit to Ian and the family in London. Sadly, as we now know, it was not to be.


Always optimistic Tony, was an intellectual who had a wide knowledge of history and world politics. He had recognised that until workers in Ireland and throughout the world were united in their aims and actions success in their struggle was impossible. He detested all those who sought to divide workers and he always was hostile to factions and petty cliques who would seek to divide or spread poison within the workers movement. He is gone from us now but he has left us some marvelous memories of a wonderful human being who cared not for gods or glories but for people.


The great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a poem which I believe sums up Tony O'Reilly's life and his contribution to humanity's long struggle for Justice, Freedom and Peace.


The poem is titled Success


To laugh often and much;

to win the respect

of intelligent people and the

affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of

honest critics                  .

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.


Going on Ralph Waldo Emerson's standard we can truly say that Tony's life was a great success.


Thank You

Peace, Work, Democracy & Class Politics