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Alan MacSimóin (1957-2018) – Dublin Historian and Political Activist
We learned at lunchtime today of the tragic news that Alan MacSimóin has died. It was sudden and hit us hard. Alan was a social historian, political activist, trade unionist and great supporter of the Come Here To Me! project from day one.
Alan first became interested in politics in the late 1960s as a young teenager. He said back in 2011:
I remember it as a time of optimism, modern ideas were challenging the conservative ones, the civil rights movement had brought out tens of thousands across the North, the Vietnamese were beating the mightiest military power on earth, the women’s movement was winning very real reforms.. Big change seemed possible.
While a secondary school student at Newpark Comprehensive School in South Dublin, Alan joined the youth wing of Official Sinn Féin. He recalls that the Special Branch visited his home and school in attempt to intimidate him as was common back then. Alan was centrally involved in the ‘Irish Union of School Students’ in the 1970s which at its height had 7,000 paid up members.
7-year-old Alan and a friend, both members of the William Thompson Republican Club, published a political magazine entitled ‘Red Rag‘ in 1975. Shortly later Alan resigned from the Official Republican Movement “because of its decision to regard the Soviet Bloc countries as “actually existing socialism” and to describe the 1956 Hungarian uprising as fascist.”
Alan became interested in libertarian socialist/anarchist politics and remained committed to these ideals until the day he died. In the 1970s, he was active with the anti-Nuclear movement and the Murrays Defence Committee.
A still from a television documentary showed Alan at a counter-demonstration in the face of a large anti-Traveller march in Tallaght, 1982.
He helped form the Dublin Anarchist Group (1978) and later the Anarchist Workers Alliance.
In 1984, Alan was a founding member of the anarchist Workers Solidarity Movement and for the next 26 years was involved in countless campaigns around trade union rights, migrant solidarity, anti-racism, anti-apartheid, anti-war and anti-Bin charges.
In the early 1990s, he acted as spokesperson for the Dublin Abortion Information Service and was active with the campaign for divorce in the 1995 referendum.
A life-long historian, Alan was involved with SIPTU’s Dublin District Committee in its 1913 and 1916 commemorations and was a founding member of the Stoneybatter & Smihfield People’s History Project. Launching the website irishanarchisthistory.com in 2011, this pet project of his was an amazing resource of Irish anarchist material from the 1880s until today.
In the last couple of years, Alan was heavily active with the ‘Stoneybatter Against the Water Tax’ and the Dublin Central branch of the ‘Together For Yes’ victorious campaign.
Alan was a political mentor and strong supporter of Come Here To Me! since we launched in 2009. He will be truly missed. A giant of a man, he managed to retain close friends from all strands of left-wing politics in Ireland.