Gino Gallagher 1963-1996 – Tribute To A Revolutionary

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Contemporary IRSP activists and especially younger Irish Republican Socialists, who may not have known him owe much to Gino Gallagher, not least being that he is credited with refurbishing Costello House, the IRSPs national headquarters on Belfast’s Falls Road. At his insistence, Costello House was transformed from being a run-down building into something resembling the party offices that exist there today. Gino Gallagher, in his then role as IRSP POW spokesperson was responsible for obtaining the repatriation of INLA prisoners from English gaols. He also was instrumental in forcing the NIO to agree to negotiating rights for the Irish Republican Socialist Party in relation to the INLA prisoners in Long Kesh.

 

INLA Chief of Staff

A feared military operator, who at the time of his death was Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) he was also a highly politicized Republican Socialist activist who embodied Ta Power’s doctrine of ‘every soldier a politician, every politician a soldier‘.  Gino Gallagher was instrumental in promoting the central tenets of Ta Power’s analysis and vision for the Republican Socialist Movement which stressed the primacy of politics. Gino Gallagher described Ta Power as, ‘the biggest influence in my life.’  Tragically, both men were to meet similar cruel ends, cut down by the Judas bullets of counter-revolutionaries.

Gino Gallagher was made INLA Chief of Staff following the arrest and subsequent expulsion of Hugh Torney and his associates when they declared an unauthorised INLA ceasefire from the dock of a Dublin courtroom in 1995, in return for a successful bail application after their arrest in Ballbriggan. By all accounts, Torney had been a one-dimensional militarist, at best, and his tenure as INLA Chief of Staff was marked by his concerted attempts at running down the political wing, the IRSP. Torney would have resented Gino Gallagher’s reversal of the IRSP’s political fortunes and his drive to make the party the significant player it had once been.

 

Death of a Revolutionary

Gino Gallagher was cruelly shot dead as he waited to sign-on at the Falls Road offices of the Social Security Agency, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, 1996. The assassin who the Torney cabal hired to murder one of the IRSM’s most able leaders was Kevin McAlorum, the career criminal son of an infamous North Belfast drugs dealer. Both Torney and McAlorum met violent ends, the former only 8 months later on 3 September 1996 and the hired assassin 8 years later on June 4th, 2004, by grim irony only the day after Gino Gallagher’s father’s funeral.

Even in death the forces of reaction feared and hated Gino Gallagher, heavily armed RUC and British army stormtroopers invaded the family home, disrupted the funeral procession and beat mourners. Gino Gallagher was buried in Milltown cemetery on 2 February, 1996, with the funeral oration delivered by IRSP Ard Chomhairle member, Michael McCormick, who paid tribute to his political activism and revolutionary zeal. The oration praised Gino Gallagher’s promotion of ‘open democratic discussion,’  his struggle against ‘elitist, militaristic and non-political attitudes in the movement’ and how he, through determined activism ‘along with others, revitalised the Republican Socialist Movement.’ Gino Gallagher’s funeral oration ended with the sentence:

“Finally, as we lay this Volunteer and Comrade ino the soft green soil of his native land, remember him each time you gaze into the stars and see there etched across the sky, the Plough and the Stars!”

Today, his cowardly killer and those who hired him have been dispatched to the dustbin of history but Gino Gallagher’s image is immortalised in murals and commemorative plaques in his native west Belfast. Though times have changed greatly since 1996, Gino Gallagher’s legacy lives on in a revitalised IRSP that has fully endorsed the primacy of politics and continues to represent the interests of working-class people.

Saoirse go deo!

Alex McGuigan,

Belfast

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11 Responses to “Gino Gallagher 1963-1996 – Tribute To A Revolutionary”

  1. […] Gino Gallagher 1963-1996 – Tribute To A Revolutionary (irishredstar.wordpress.com) […]

  2. the likes of hugh torney and other fellow comrades did a lot to stop the demise of the party and army in the 80’s so their roles in the history of the organisation as a whole must not be forgotten along with john fennell who was brutally murdered by so called inla members, nothing but cowards who frankly give the army a bad name as his death wasn’t even claimed by anyone and it was the inla who did it. His leadership in the dark days helped to keep working class ideology and republican socialism alive. Even take steenson also as an example who led the way with his numerous hits on the enemy before turning his gun on fellow republican socialists yet ironically he is spoken well of by many current irsp members whom I know so its not all black and white here comrade Alex and you of all people know this. The feuds of the past should be left there and discussion brought about concerning inclusion of all republican socialists on some sort of memorial plaque to give comfort to loved ones of lost comrades and friends.

    • It is hardly appropriate on a tribute to Gino Gallagher that I as the author would be praising the actions of Toney et al who ordered his murder by a hired drug dealing assassin.
      The actions of the Torney Cabal were not part of a ‘feud’ as you put it but an attack on the leadership of the IRSM by counter-revolutionaries who had been expelled for declaring an authorised ceasefire from a Dublin court in exchange for bail.

      It is also common knowledge that under Torney’s leadership the IRSP were run into the ground, which included the selling of the Derry IRSP office. The IRSP have always been an integral part of the IRSM and to willfully detract from it was unforgivable. Gino Gallagher, when Chief of staff described Ta Power as the greatest influence in his life and by his actions he set in motion the concepts envisaged in Ta Power’s blueprint for a revitalised revolutionary movement with the credo of ‘Politics in Command.’ Needless to say this was anathema to Torney et al.

      I will accept that no actions within the history of the IRSM are completely ‘black and white’ but the murder of Gino Gallagher, one of the movement’s most charismatic leaders was unforgivable and put Torney et al beyond the pale. The most salient question to ask is who benefitted from the cyclic assassinations of the IRSM’s most able and articulate leaders? The logical answer is those who viewed the IRSM as a threat to the status quo and we all know who we are referring to here.

      Thank you for you comment. If you wish to discuss this further I would suggest that the IRSM forum is the correct place to air your views where there are members with a wealth of knowledge of that terrible phase in the IRSM’s history. Here is the forum’s web address: http://rsmforum.proboards.com/board/9

      • Thank you Alex for your replies and I asked about the comments being removed or not published as I wrongly thought you had not approved them. I apologise for that. Secondly I use my initials because you just never know how other people on a public forum would behave reading views that are akin to their own. I actually am a republican socialist but needed clarification on a few things and thought your wordpress blog would be the perfect place to ask them and although the fennell and steenson parts weren’t dealt with I was quite happy with your general views on the subject matter. I will register with the irsm site and debate the matter further in a ‘comradely fashion’. Once again Alex, thank you.

      • Personally speaking, I could not provide you with the answers, even if it were prudent to do so as I have no involvement in the INLA and if my memory serves me well, I was probably at University and was not a even a member of the IRSP at the time. As stated in previous comments, the IRSM discussion forum would be the place to air any grievances and/or ask questions about that turbulent period in the history of the movement. Anyway, I accept your apology and wish you well in your research.

      • I am glad that you are happy with my reply.

  3. Why were my comments not published Alex regarding Hugh Torney and John Fennell? You bang on about free press when it suits you but you behave in a fascist manner when you fail to include a topic of debate and free speech in your blog, journalistic fascism at its worst Alex.

    • Firstly, I am not a fascist and just because you do not receive an immediate reply does not make me a “fascist who bangs on about free press!” In fact I’d challenge you to find any reference in this blog about me bemoaning the lack of a ‘free press’ for the simple reason that from a Marxist point of view there is in effect no “free press” in the mass media, at the very least

      Due to your abusive comment which reminds me of a spoiled child, it is with reluctance that I explain to you that I do not check comments daily or even weekly due to my own professional responsibilities quite separate from this personal WordPress blog.

      Also, I notice that you do not use a name just “LM”, so why not use a real name? Again, I will refer you to the IRSM forum where the history of Republican Socialism, from LIAm Mellows, James Connolly, Seamus Costello, Ta Power, Gino Gallagher and others are always up for discussion, even those ‘batting for the other side’ are welcome to air their view, using pseudonyms if preferred are welcomed, if they care to take part in discussions in a ‘comradely’ fashion: http://rsmforum.proboards.com/board/9

  4. N/Belfast Irp Says:

    Someone need to tell LM that the chances of the rehabilitation of the Torney gang within the IRSP is ZERO. L has a brass neck praising Torney on a blog commemoratimg Gino. You are lucky your evem getting a civil reply cos you woudlnt get it from me, as your obviously trying to open old wounds and acting as an agent of the Britsh &/or another party.

    Chief of Staff Gino Gallagher
    RIP

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