Peter Graham: The Life and Death of an Irish Socialist Republican (1972)

Submitted by dalcassian on 8 March, 2012 - 4:42

Peter Graham was a Trotskyist republican who joined the activities of the Saor Eire Action Group, a sort of Irish Guevarist grouping, and was murdered on 25 October 1971 by one of the Saor Eire factions in an internecine dispute. This obituary appeared in Workers Fight no.1, 14 January 1972.

On October 25th. 1971 Peter Graham, a Communist-Republican militant, was assassinated in Dublin. At his death he was a member of the Fourth International. From shortly after he joined the Trotskyist movement in 1967 until his death, he worked closely with the Workers’ Fight group.

He lived for 25 years, the last 6 or 7 of them as a revolutionary militant. Amongst socialist militants his dedication and controlled subordination of all else to the revolutionary cause marked him out very clearly. He organised his life, his entire existence, around the political tasks which he had at first perceived almost instinctively as a young Dublin apprentice, and then learned to understand consciously - and with sharpening clarity as a young man: he took it as a matter of course that that life was expendable. In these traits he was remarkable but not unique: many republicans of equal dedication and revolutionary seriousness, and even socialist convictions, have died and are fighting and dying now in Northern Ireland. But in one respect he was unique.

Peter Graham’s life, like theirs, was set in the barren half-century that followed the death of James Connolly, and that saw a rupture between Irish revolutionary socialism and Irish Republicanism - and the eclipse of socialism and the sterility of non-socialist Republicanism. His life like all Irish life was dominated by the consequences of these facts.

Politically, Peter Graham is important to us because he was in the vanguard of a struggle to reunite the genuinely revolutionary traditions of the society and nation into which he was born, with the modern equivalent of Connolly’s socialism - the internationalist revolutionary tradition summed up throughout the world by the names of Lenin and Trotsky. Without such a fusion, and the fighting communist-republican revolutionary party that will be built on its basis, the Irish working class cannot fully and finally emancipate itself.

Peter’s personal traits, his personal dedication, thus had a more than personal significance. They vere part of a drive of the Irish work- ing class to cut a road out of the bloody impasse in which imperialism and its bastard offspring, Irish capitalism, have landed the Irish people. Part of a drive to forge an understanding, a programme, a method of struggle - and a socialism that could offer more than abstract preaching.

From that drive came Peter Graham’s death. After 1969 the attempt to re-fuse communism and republicanism demanded more than theorising. Peter was prepared to search actively, in practical action, for the way forward. He entered the cross-currents of Irish republican politics. And in those cross-currents he lost his life.

His friends wiil long grieve for the loss of an unbreakable militant, totally dedicated to the socialist revolution.

Sean Matgamna


Submitted by Roe. on Sat, 07/04/2012 - 21:53

A very good article on Peter Graham and I know Sean Matgamna was a friend of Peter.
Over here in Ireland there is a lot of interest in people like Mairan Keegan Peter Graham and the Republican Congress of the 1930s.With the campaign No to Household tax (60% have not paid) and the Turfcutters fight against the EU ban on turf cutting. With both groups having protests involving thousands of people on the streets.Many people are turning to left and so searching the history of Irish Marxist's from the 1930s and 60s.We need more good articles like this. has some good articles on Peter Graham and Mairan Keegan.

Submitted by dalcassian on Mon, 19/05/2014 - 19:21

In reply to by Roe.

Hi. Suggestions for your project. The Irish Post, published in London, carried an obituary article on Liam Daltun, written by Pat O'Donovan. O'Donovan and Daltun were enemies, but O'D wrote for money and would have written for his market a romanticised account of an old IRA man. I can't remember what it said. The British Library does not have a file of IP in its early years, but you might find a file in Dublin. The date would have been some time in Feb, or early March, 1972.

Early in 1973 the News of the World published as part of a series exposing the left a lurid account of the deaths of Peter Graham, Maureen Keegan and Liam Daltun, all of whom died within 3 months of each other. The News of the World said that each of them, in succession, had been "Head" of the Fourth International in Ireland. It suggested that Peter Graham might have been shot because he was a police spy. The article was unsigned but at the time Gery Lawless was assumed to have either written it or sold information to whoever did. He made his living by such fringe journalism. Both the LWR and Workers Fight, our paper then, published angry rebuttals. I have a copy of these somewhere and I'll try and dig them out.

Finally, in mid 1970 Liam Dalton, with some help from me, set up a Frank Keane Defence Cttee. Keane was held for a year in Brixton Prison. A couple of pieces by Daltun and myself appeared in Socialist Worker on the case. I'll try and dig those out too.

Sean Matgamna

Submitted by Roe. on Fri, 25/07/2014 - 16:05

In reply to by dalcassian

Sean thank you for your help, I got a copy of The Irish Post, that carried the obituary on Liam Daltun.It was like News of the World journalism, but it has events and dates.With information from his former friends I filled in the gaps. So I was able to wright an article on his short life.

I was also fortunate to be given some very good photographs of Daltun. The Irish Republican & Marxist History Project

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