Ruairí Ó Brádaigh 2nd October 1932 - 5th June 2013
The James Connolly Association Australia wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends and comrades of the late Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, particularly to his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh has been described as a giant among men within republicanism. This is undoubtedly a fitting and appropriate description of the man. He joined the Republican Movement while still in his teens in 1950, followed shortly thereafter with taking membership of the Irish Republican Army. Over the course of the decades that have followed, he served two lengthy terms as President of Sinn Féin as well as having served as Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army on a number of occasions. He was imprisoned a number of times due to his republican activity. From 2009 until his death he was Patron of Sinn Féin Poblachtach.
At testing times within the history of republicanism, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh maintained an unwavering commitment to the ideal. In both 1970 and 1986 he along with others led republicans away from reformist and constitutional paths that others within the Movement sought to go. Reflecting on his speech on motion 162, some will say he prophesied on what would follow on from opting to participate in proceedings at Leinster House. Such was his understanding of Irish history and Britain's intentions towards Ireland that he could clearly see what many others had not yet seen. Regardless, his words that day have rung true. The position he held that day was correct, and the position he has held from that day, from the beginning, and to the end of his life, has proven to be correct.
Like all anti-imperialist revolutionaries, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh's perspective was internationalist. While the focus of many people remained on the situation in Ireland, he was also a champion of justice for the oppressed everywhere. He was a strong proponent of international solidarity, and was a long-time member of the Celtic League - campaigning for the right to self determination of the stateless nations in Western Europe.
For those of us who have had the pleasure of meeting or working with Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, we can say he was personable, sincere, dignified, genuine and dedicated. When a person is asked of their impressions upon meeting Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, they will invariably describe him in the same light. Such was the respect he commanded that even the critics of his political position tend to describe him similarly.
The greatest honour we can bestow upon this great man who dedicated a lifetime of effort to a noble cause is to continue where he left off - to oppose injustice where we find it, to defend what is right, to strive for the full freedom of Ireland - for this is what he himself did when others went before him.