The news that People Before Profit councillor Eamonn McCann is retiring from Derry Council for health reasons has led to widespread acclaim & good wishes for this great Irish Socialist.

I first came across Eamonn McCann’s brand of crackling, eloquent, uncompromising socialism in his fortnightly column in the Hot Press back in the 80s, when I was a teenager growing up in a small town in the West of Ireland.

The only sources of information we generally had were mainstream papers & RTE – we didnt have ‘the channels’ back then and so missed out on the choice of who to be lied to about political & social affairs. This was a serious issue. Nobody in the Irish mainstream media at the time told the truth about unfolding events in Northern Ireland – for example.

However there were three ‘alternative channels’ of information, if you knew where to find them.

One was music & musicians, folk & indie – a lot of them english – who sang about all sorts of things the mainstream was silent about or lied about. My interest in revolutionary politics began when I heard The Sex Pistols for the first time on my 13th birthday.

Then there was the IRA paper, An Phoblacht, which had a good sale in the area driven by one or two committed activists. It had a few decent writers & articles & gave you the guerrilla perspective.

Finally there was that blazing lone star of grassroots socialism in the Irish media, Eamonn McCann, who unlike Johnny Rotten never sold out, and unlike the IRA offered hope & broader perspective of liberation – not only NI was covered, but church abuse, LGBTQ+ rights, international politics etc etc.

Eamonn was an absolutely crucial element in the development of my knowledge of the world, my consciousness of what has gone wrong with it, my passion to help transform it.

I believe there are very few Irish socialists of my generation who would say any different. Thank you Eamonn for what you have done & are doing for me & so many others & the very best for all your future endeavours.