Speech to honour the memory of Comrade Peter Kane on the 20th Anniversary of his death, delivered by Comrade Gerry Grainger, Chair, International Affairs, Workers’ Party of Ireland, at Northern Ireland conference of the party in Belfast on Saturday 20th October 2012.
Comrades, Friends and Guests,
Over the past decades our party has had within its ranks some of the best and bravest of revolutionaries - men and women, who were clear in their ideology and objectives.
The man we commemorate today, Comrade Peter Kane, was one such person. Like so many of our comrades Peter died too young, twenty years ago this day, 20th October 1992. He was at the height of his abilities having worked for many years full-time in building a class-conscious party of the Irish working class.
An activist from his first days in the party, no task was too small or too big for Peter to tackle. He never lost sight of the fact that a revolutionary must be in constant contact with the working class and that unless the party was embedded in the local community there would never be a revolution, much less a socialist revolution. For Peter, the importance of selling party publications, of organising agitations on the key issues of the day, such as housing, education, unemployment, health, civil and human rights, were his priorities.
As administrative secretary of the Party Peter knew every member and he knew exactly where they lived and worked. His commitment to the Party was total. Peter was not afraid to step forward and lead by example. He spent his life deeply dedicated and totally loyal to the principles and aims of the Workers’ Party. He was seen and widely recognised as a comrade to be trusted and utterly reliable.
Peter was a strong advocate of Leninist principles. He firmly believed in necessity to Educate, Agitate and Organise. These principles of organisation are as timely and as relevant today as they were in Lenin’s time. Having experienced the struggle to defeat sectarianism and reactionary nationalism and having rejected the policies and practices of the Provisionals and ultra-left factions which broke from the Party Peter again proved his worth.
Opposing the twin evils of sectarianism and reactionary nationalism Peter Kane played a major role in helping to build and consolidate the Party’s position. If we, his comrades and friends, gathered here and around the country, recognised his value, his loyalty and commitment, so too did the enemies of the Party. These enemies of the working class knew that in Comrade Peter Kane they had a strong opponent of their plan. As Tomás Mac Giolla had stated, we had built the finest working class organisation in the history of our country and that opportunists failed in their aim to destroy the Party was due to comrades of the calibre of Peter Kane.
Peter’s death in October 1992 was a serious blow for it was at a time that we needed him by our side in defence of the Party, relying on his energy, his steadfast commitment, his loyalty, integrity and his sound common sense. Comrade Peter Kane was invaluable in ensuring that our head office functioned as a centre of revolutionary activity, providing direction and leadership and ensuring that the Party was the vanguard party of the Irish working class.
In this regard if our Party history teaches us anything it is to be conscious and wary of those who would have us betray our principles for imaginary short term gains and have us ally ourselves with the most reactionary forces in the country. From the early seventies we never underestimated the immense task that confronts our class. Now, at this time when capitalism is being increasingly exposed as a failed system we have many opportunities to expose its crises and contradictions and the misery it brings to workers all over the world.
On this day, we wish to convey our most sincere best wishes to Peter’s family: to Pearl his loving wife and widow, to his son Barry and his daughter Joanne. The tragedy of Peter’s death, at such an early age, was compounded by the fact that his children were so young he never got the opportunity to see them grow up. We know that Pearl has succeeded in raising a wonderful family of which we know Peter would have been immensely proud.
Comrades, today we remember Comrade Peter Kane, but the surest way we can honour his life and struggle is to build a class-conscious, disciplined party of the working-class capable of bringing about a revolutionary transformation of society - the Workers’ Party of Ireland.