23 October 2003 Edition

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The death occurred last week in tragic circumstances of longstanding republican activist Seán O'Farrell, from Tallaght in South County Dublin. Seán was active in all aspects of the republican struggle. A militant republican, he was extremely proud of his involvement in advancing the cause of Irish Freedom.

He was tireless in his commitment to getting the republican work done and always available to pick up the slack when others wanted to call it a day. In all weathers, there was Seán delivering leaflets, selling tickets, putting up posters, knocking on doors, winning people over to the republican point of view. And his hard work paid off. Throughout this country, in election after election, we have seen the share of the Sinn Féin vote growing and growing. At the election count last year in the basketball arena in Tallaght, there was no one happier or prouder than Seán O'Farrell. Boy, was he happy. At one stage during the night he nearly got barred from the celebration session in the Killinarden pub for what the doormen kindly put as "his loud singing".

Seán was there for the victories and he enjoyed them. But he was also there in hard times. He would have walked on hot coals for me and as a friend and a comrade was someone I could always turn to in times of difficulty. He was loyal to his friends and would stand with you to face any danger, imagined or real.

He also had a great sense of fun.

I will always have this vision of Seán running hell for leather through hedges, jumping walls like a greyhound, delivering leaflets and all the younger members and some older trying in vain to keep up, and then the slagging and joking afterwards.

Seán's politics were primarily about working for the freedom of his country but he also wanted to see a new Ireland emerge based on greater social and economic equity. His life and his actions all point to this. Money or wealth were never a motivating factor for Seán.

In all honesty, who among us has done the amount of unpaid work for their community, neighbours, friends and total strangers as Seán O'Farrell?

He loved Dublin and its people. He hated with a passion the drug dealers who were destroying the very heart of the city he loved. He wanted to see young people living to their full potential and not destroyed by drugs.

A man of action, he stood with his neighbours and gave leadership on this and other important issues when needed by his community.

He was a roofer by trade and was prepared to work at anything from painting and decorating, to window cleaning, to gardening, to the building trade. People from Tallaght will be forever grateful to Seán for the work he carried out down through the years maintaining their homes. When money was short it was done for nothing. If you asked him how much he was insulted and told you to get away. That was the type of person he was. If he could help a neighbour or a friend then no job was too big and that was his reward

Only recently the Special Olympics were held in Ireland and there he was helping to co-ordinate things in the Tallaght area. It was people like Seán who made this event such a success.

Seán was an Irishman who loved his country and he even had room in his heart for Glasgow Celtic. A great supporter of the Ireland team, it also gave Seán enormous pleasure to see the success of Fettercairn's Robbie Keane, who he trained and managed as a young lad.

Seán touched the lives of everybody he came in contact with. I only wish I had the words to articulate exactly what that means

The tragedy of Seán's death will haunt us all for a long time. The questions we all have lead us nowhere because there was, sadly, nothing anyone could have said or done to prevent the tragedy of his untimely death.

Seán idolised Margaret, his family and their achievements. He was forever talking about them. If he could have, he would not have taken the path he did.

His death highlights a frailty in us all. It leaves us confused angry and hurt and yet the emotion of love and friendship is as strong if not stronger now than we have ever felt.

Seán passed away but surely he always remains with us in our thoughts and in our memories.

Our deepest sympathy is extended to Seán's wife Margaret, sons Seán and Daniel, daughters Jennie and Mairéad, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews.

I measc laochra na nGael a raibh sé.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1