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Cork May Day 2009 – Report & Photos

category cork | anti-capitalism | news report author Friday May 01, 2009 23:24author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap) - May Day Lover Report this post to the editors

Celebrating a veteran socialist’s lifelong commitment – marching to affirm our continuing desire for a socialist revolution!

As is customary in Cork, the evening of May 1 sees trade unionists, workers, socialists of many organizations and cherishers of the Bealtaine traditions march together through the city centre to remember the struggles and sacrifices of the countless millions of working-class people through history and to affirm our continuing commitment to the vision of a better world they bequeathed us. It’s also a time to celebrate and recognise socialist comrades among us who’ve given decades of unwavering commitment to working for positive social change in the world.
Bob with John Jeffries, who drove him to Cork today
Bob with John Jeffries, who drove him to Cork today

This afternoon, the Cork May Day committee honoured the veteran socialist activist and long-time Youghal resident Bob Bickerdicke. In spite of his advanced age and the frailty it brings, Bob come to the city today to receive a lifetime achievement ‘working class hero’ award from the committee and several friends assembled specially for the occasion at Cois Tine in Cork city centre. The reception and presentation was held outdoors to take advantage of the splendid afternoon weather and to spare Bob further unnecessary walking.

Bob was born in Co. Leitrim nearly 90 years ago and his early experiences during ‘the hungry thirties’ and his early working years as a circus entertainer convinced him of the necessity and desirability of a socialist revolution for humankind. He spent a portion of his adult years as an emigrant in Britain where, as a working man and trade unionist he was involved directly in many workplace struggles, and where his lifelong passion for opposition to war, nuclear weapons and imperialism was given focus and space for action. He settled in Youghal in the 1970s and there raised a family and re-connected with socialist activity in Ireland. As a stalwart attendee of anti-war events and marches at Shannon until quite recently, he has been a beacon of inspiration for many activists in Cork city and county, and it was a privilege to share his company and to attest to his continuing burning desire for a better tomorrow for us all. Salud Bob!

This evening’s march started at the now-traditional venue of Lapps Quay, and the several-hundred-strong contingent marched their way through the city centre in the glorious evening sunshine to a hearty welcome from spectating citizens and beeping motorists. Once the marchers reached Daunt Sq. there were speeches from Cllr. Mick Barry of the Socialist Party and Joe Moore of the Cork Anti-Racism Network, and then the music from the decks and PA took over to reclaim the city’s streets for May Day and Bealtaine.

Today’s attack on May Day-celebrating workers in Istanbul today was remembered at tonight’s gathering and our solidarity and thoughts are with our socialist and trade union comrades in Turkey, even as we celebrate tonight in the south of Ireland. Solidarity to all working class people everywhere today, and happy May Day!

Bob’s personal message will hopefully be added tomorrow.

Link to indymedia.ie article on Turkish cops' attack on Istanbul May Day march:

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92146

Bob with John, who made the presentation
Bob with John, who made the presentation

John presenting Bob with his award
John presenting Bob with his award

Bob, Cork May Day organising committee & friends
Bob, Cork May Day organising committee & friends

Joan reading Bob's message of thanks
Joan reading Bob's message of thanks

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap) - May Day Loverpublication date Fri May 01, 2009 23:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bob in profile plus march photos...

Bob Bickerdicke, veteran socialist and an inspiration to us all
Bob Bickerdicke, veteran socialist and an inspiration to us all

A devil with a sure grasp of the Great Gas Robbery
A devil with a sure grasp of the Great Gas Robbery

Power to the people!
Power to the people!

Cuba flag - 50 years since the revolution this July
Cuba flag - 50 years since the revolution this July

Cork Pagans new banner - snazzy!
Cork Pagans new banner - snazzy!

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap) - May Day Loverpublication date Fri May 01, 2009 23:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

More photos...

Boycott Israel - Cork solidarity for Palestine
Boycott Israel - Cork solidarity for Palestine

March setting off
March setting off

The march on Merchants' Quay
The march on Merchants' Quay

Turning on to Pana
Turning on to Pana

Going down Patrick St.
Going down Patrick St.

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap)publication date Fri May 01, 2009 23:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

More photos....mmmmmmmmm!

March arriving at Daunt Sq. and getting showered with flowers!
March arriving at Daunt Sq. and getting showered with flowers!

Mick Barry (SP) speaking at Daunt Sq.
Mick Barry (SP) speaking at Daunt Sq.

May Day marchers - Cork Women
May Day marchers - Cork Women

Singing the Internationale
Singing the Internationale

Free the weed! Legalise cannabis!
Free the weed! Legalise cannabis!

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap) - May Day Loverpublication date Fri May 01, 2009 23:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A special mention should go out to the many children who joined us on this evening's march. It did the heart great to have so many of our younger fellow-citizens with us for today, and hopefully they'll be taking us to May Day marches when we're in our dotage. Happy May Day to all!

Free the weed! Legalise cannabis!
Free the weed! Legalise cannabis!

A previous recipient of the lifetime achievement award struts his stuff!
A previous recipient of the lifetime achievement award struts his stuff!

Young May Day marchers - our hope for the future
Young May Day marchers - our hope for the future

Reclaiming the streets for fun and dance - long may we celebrate May Day!
Reclaiming the streets for fun and dance - long may we celebrate May Day!

author by lulupublication date Sun May 03, 2009 14:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good turnout - solidarity to all of ya!

author by Ray - Cork WSM (pers cap) - May Day Loverpublication date Mon May 04, 2009 12:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The following speech (or something almost exactly like it) was spoken at the gathering in honour of Bob by John Ryan of the May Day committee:

Bob was born in Leitrim 89 years ago. Before the 2nd world war he and his father toured Ireland with the circus doing a clown and acrobat act. Visiting all the towns and villages in Ireland he became struck by the lack of equality and the injustice ordinary people suffered. In the 'hungry thirties' he developed a passion to see society transformed in a radical way. He received little formal education but was a voracious reader and he became self-taught.

After the war, like so many Irish people he emigrated to England. He lived and worked in the industrial heartland of the West Midlands and in other places. While there he developed his understanding of the trade union movement and to this day he retains the values of solidarity, integrity, and courage - always ready to to speak out and challenge the power of capitalism and the state.

Bob from day one fought against any form of racism, sectarianism and sexism. He never sought positions for himself or the preferment of cliques. He has always struggled against the military-industrial complex and joined CND in 1952.

Bob returned to Ireland in the 'sixties and settled in his current home of Youghal. To his joy he raised a family - two boys and a girl - and in recent years he has been delighted with his grandchildren. Yet in all that time he also threw himself into activism. Any trade unionist who needed help, any stand against imperialism, he was there. He was a staunch member of the tenants' rights movements. In the late 'eighties and early 'nineties he intensified his activity when others were thinking of retiring. He went to prison in connection with tenants' rights issues and briefly went on hunger strike. He also was elected as an independent anti-establishment candidate in Youghal town council and he was a founder member of the Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed.

In the period around 2000 and 2001 though he had reached his eightieth year, Bob made friends with a new generation of activists. Many of his old comrades had passed away but his personality made it easy for him to open up new relationships whereby he slotted in to action with a hands-on approach. His compassion always burned brightly - he marched, took part in demonstrations, canvassed (indeed I remember struggling to keep up with him on the hillside doorsteps of Youghal during the first Nice referendum campaign!) and was always encouraging in meetings. He realised the significance of events like Seattle and the global movement against corporate take-over, which would be a struggle for survival.

Bob was green before it was popular; he knew about recycling and was a beekeeper. Even in this decade his commitments would be exhausting to the young. He frequently went to Shannon to oppose the warplanes there and picnicked at the Old Head of Kinsale for open access for all. He helped form the Cork Autonomous Zone and the Cork Peace Alliance, where he loved the non-hierarchical structure and where his sense of humour and warmth came out.

He is a fitting working class hero here in 2009, a socialist for seventy years, a figure of true humanity, and a selfless maker of community.

And a message from Bob on the day, as noted by Paul, and read by Joan Casey of the May Day committee:
Since my teenage years I've been involved in working-class struggle and been fascinated by the ideas of socialism and co-operation. Think of all the people killed in wars - all in the name of capitalism. That's why I hate capitalism. If we socialists had our way there'd be an end to conflict. Socialism is such a lovely idea and one day with God's help, it will be a reality.

author by Ray - Cork WSM - pers cappublication date Sat Jun 13, 2009 16:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just heard that Bob died at home last night at about 10 pm, in the company of his family. He was in his ninetieth year. My sincere sympathies to Bob's children, grandchildren, relatives, comrades, and friends. He was and still is much-admired and loved among activists on the left throughout Ireland and further afield. His memory among the living will never perish so long as the dream of a future without capitalism is dreamt. There's no word yet of the funeral arrangements, maybe check the Echo or the Sunday papers for details.

author by John Jefferiespublication date Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:44author address author phone (086) 3004573Report this post to the editors

I have just posted the story online here http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92692

Funeral details will be in tomorrow's Irish Examiner.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/92692
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