Fiona Gartland in The Irish Times, February 16, 2009

Dublin honours veteran of Spanish Civil War

TRAFFIC CAME to a halt in the centre of Dublin for a short time on Saturday as the city paid its respects to the late Spanish Civil War veteran Bob Doyle.

Family, friends and admirers of Mr Doyle, who died last month in London aged 92, gathered at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square to commemorate his life and the life of his comrades.

Born in February 1916, Mr Doyle grew up in North King Street. He joined the IRA as a teenager, engaged in running battles with the Blueshirts, became a communist, and then travelled to Spain to fight in the civil war.

He was a merchant seaman during World War II and worked with Fleet Street print unions and the underground unions in Franco s Spain. He battled to commemorate the men he fought with in the International Brigade.

On Saturday, a 300-strong procession, led by a lone piper made its way down O Connell Street and along the quays to Liberty Hall where a wreath was laid at the plaque to the 60 Irish who died in the Spanish Civil War.

Mr Doyle s family lead the procession, pushing a child s buggy in which a wooden box containing his ashes was placed, along with the flag of the Spanish International Brigade.

Representatives from the Communist Party, Sinn Féin, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, SIPTU and the Independent Workers Union were present.

Many participants wore the colours of the Spanish republic in deference to Mr Doyle's defence of the republic against fascism.

Seve Montero flew from Madrid to attend the event. A friend of Mr Doyle's since 1990, he recalled him as an optimist and a gentleman. His mind was always fixed in the fight for freedom, he said.

Anna Perez, head of the International Brigade Memorial Association, said that when people honoured Mr Doyle, they honoured the brigade. Bob was able to take the aims for which he fought to our aims today and let us see they are the same aims, she said. This is not nostalgic, it is actual. The fight for freedom for humanity is still alive and necessary today.

Long-time friend Harry Owens said he was a trade unionist and republican in a broad sense. The peace process filled him with pure joy and hope, he said. We were mates, he was a very honest man, very scrupulous, he could be quiet for a long time but was always aware of what was happening.

Julian Doyle said his father was a smiling revolutionary and that it was great to see everybody at the event. He s done his fight maybe people will pick it up and make a better world, he said.

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