The author is QUB Political Science Hons graduate and has written extensively on the conflict in Ireland.
Gino Gallagher was callously murdered by a hired assassin over 15 years ago on January 30th, 1996. He was born Gino Majella Gallagher in 1963 to Irish Republican parents. His mother Theresa was a member of the first Ard-Chomhairle of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and his father, Patrick, had been on hunger and thirst strike in a Dutch prison protesting against extradition to Britain in the 1970's.
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 IRSP's national headquarters on Belfast's Falls Road. At his insistence, Costello House was transformed from a run-down, semi-derelict building into something resembling the working party offices that exist there today. Gino Gallagher, in his then role as IRSP POW spokesperson, was responsible for obtaining the re-patriation 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.
Although a feared military operator, who at the time of his death was Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), Gino Gallagher 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, a Bonapartist 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.
Irish National Liberation army / Arm Saoirse Náisiúnta na hÉireann
INLA Honour Guard at Wake of Gino Gallagher
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 into 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 counter-revolutionary collaborator killer and those who hired him have been rightfully dispatched to the dustbin of history but Gino Gallagher's image is immortalised in murals, commemorative plaques in his native west Belfast and the consciousness of modern-day Irish Republican Socialist revolutionaries.. Though times have changed greatly since 1996, Gino Gallagher's legacy lives on in a revitalised Irish Republican Socialist Movement that has fully endorsed the primacy of politics, the central tenets of revolutionary Republicanism, and has continued to reject 'gas and water socialism' in the Connollyite tradition. The IRSM's adherence to class politics continues to represent the interests of working-class people and the wretched of the earth, not the fat cat landlords elected to the Stormont mini-Duma, or the Brit centric politics of the middle-class neo-Trots. people.
Saoirse go deo!
The Funeral of Gino Gallagher - Attacked by the fascist RUC and British Army
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Liam A Ryan