Michael Dwyer Obituary

A good comrade, Mickey Dwyer, died in Belfast on October 12th last. He had had a long illness but did not tell even his closest family until four weeks before he died, and no one else at all. He said he did not want to be a bother to people, which was typical of the man. So his death came as a great surprise to all of us. His brother said that only a few weeks earlier he was still working in his garden.

Mickey joined the IRA in his youth and his unit fought in the Lower Falls area during the pogroms in August 1969. A nasty rumour did the rounds during the bitter split between the Provisional and Official IRAs that IRA stood for I Ran Away. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gerry Adams, a Provo, paid the most fulsome tribute to Mickey's unit in his autobiography. He said that they fought day and night to the point of almost complete exhaustion with the meagre supply of rifles that they had.

The Belfast IRA was indeed starved of supplies by GHQ in Dublin, and the Dublin Volunteers were kept South of the Border, which led most of them to join the Provos. By contrast the Cork IRA made its own way with full kit to Derry where it placed itself under the Derry Citizens' Defence Committee.

Mickey later became associated with the Irish Communist Organisation (later BICO), whose members brought short arms from England and rifles from the South and manned the barricades in the Upper Falls-Beechmount area under the local Citizens' Defence Committee. Manning this barricade was Mickey's brother Tommy.

In the BICO Mickey's concern was to further the interest of his class and community by establishing national Labour politics in Northern Ireland, whether of British or Irish origin being of no more concern to him than to the rest of us. Sadly all our efforts were in vain. It cannot be any coincidence that, throughout the years they spurned and rebuffed us, the British and Irish Labour Parties have completely ceased to notice let alone represent the working class interest. The situation today is even worse in that respect than it was when Mickey helped form the Campaign for Labour Representation in Belfast in the mid-1970s.

Mickey was a particularly gifted builder. When work was short in Belfast, as it often was, he would go to London for work, regularly staying in an ICO squat in Islington. Though the youngest member of the family he was probably the wildest. But if you ever needed him he was on your door step in half an hour. And among those he knew and cared for he was a gentle man.

Mickey's great passion was hurling and he was active for many years in the GAA in Andersonstown. He used to make an annual "pilgrimage" to Thurles, as he said, before the new "backdoor" rules came in, that the Munster Final was the real All-Ireland Final! Below we reproduce one of the many death notices that appeared in the Irish News deaths column.

Mickey (2nd. from the left) helping rebuild Bombay Street after the state pogrom of 1969.

His brother Tommy who is not in the photo was also helping out on the same job at the same time.

"Dwyer - Michael peacefully at hospital October 12th 2010, beloved husband of the late Geraldine and beloved father of aedan and Michelle, also much loved granda of Lauren, Lucie and Cormac, also beloved brother of Liam, Belle, Tommy and the late Patrick R.I.P. Michael's remains shall leave his home, 2 Creeslough Park on Thursday at 9.30am for Requiem Mass in St. Oliver Plunkett Church followed by burial in City Cemetery. Our Lady Queen of the Gael pray for him. Deeply regretted by his sorrowing son, daughter-in-law Christine, grandchildren and family circle. Family flowers only. Donations in lieu to the Northern Ireland Hospice c/o Healy Brothers Funeral Directors, 2 Owenvarragh Park, Belfast BT11 9BD."

Return To Athol Books Home Page