Death of Joe Deasy, Socialist, Trade Unionist and Historian

Joe Deasy was born on 12th July 1922 opposite the Railway works in Inchicore, Dublin. His father was an active Labour and Union man and influenced the subsequent career of Joe. He began his working life as a railway clerk in 1941 and in those poverty stricken war years saw the need for strong trade unionism and for spreading socialist ideas. He held elected positions in what are now the TSSA and the Trades Council.

Active in the Labour Party Joe was elected a Counsellor in 1945 and at the age of 22 the youngest one in the country. He served on Dublin Council with Big Jim Larkin and has written of this association memorably as they raised issues of slum clearances and health services. The Labour Party participation in the inter party Government of 1948 with Fine Gael and Clann na Poblachta disillusioned many in the Labour Movement.

Joe joined the newly formed Irish Worker League (a forerunner to the Communist Part of Ireland) in 1951. In the cold war hysteria of those days this was a difficult and demanding choice. He was blacklisted from all union positions and with the rest of its members faced hostility at public meetings and selling papers. An infamous saga was the closure of the Ballyfermot Grocery Co-operative stores by clerical abuse and boycotts. Joe and some IWL colleagues had been on the management committee. Both a thinker and a writer he wrote Fiery Cross – the story of Jim Larkin and later the Teaching of James Connolly in the mid-sixties, before labour movement studies became fashionable. Joe returned to the Labour Party in 1977 but remained a commitment to the socialist ideas of his youth. This also allowed him return to the trade union activism of his branch and Trades Council. On retirement he allowed more time to elected positions in the Labour History Society and writing for its journal Saothar.

Joe enjoyed life and had a repertoire of labour songs and enjoyed singing them. His other passion was the theatre which stemmed from his own involvement as a youngster in the New Theatre as actor and budding writer. A complete man we pay respects to his family.