Over the weekend my attention was drawn by two separate newspaper articles.
The first was an obituary in the Irish News for Paddy Murphy (1940-2011), who died on 17 November. After serving in the Eire Army and then the British Army he joined the IRA. According to the obituary:
The 1970s and 1980s saw Paddy eke out a living in a variety of jobs and he found expression for his socialist and internationalist instincts in the Communist Party of Ireland as well as joining Sinn Fein and becoming active in republicanism.
He lived in Ardoyne and was 'an active communist who regularly went to Mass'. He was also 'a fluent Irish speaker with a passion for Russian history'. In 1989 the police raided his house and seized a wheelie bin full of explosives. Paddy Murphy was sentenced to eight years in prison and served his time in Magilligan.
The second article was about Ciaran Farrell, a brother of the notorious IRA terrorist Mairead Farrell. Ciaran pleaded guilty to providing the get-away car for the dissident republicans who bombed Newry courthouse last year. However this reminded me that Mairead Farrell had another brother Niall Farrell, who was a senior member of the Communist Party of Ireland.
The role of the Communist Party in the Troubles, especially its association with Irish republicanism, is one that has received only limited attention but it is one that is worthy of research. The party is very small but some of its members have played a significant role in the events of the past forty years.