The WSM are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of Alan MacSimoin, one of our founder members, a friend, and a key central figure in building the anarchist movement in Ireland for over four decades. Alan had not been a member of WSM for some years but remained politically active right to the end. His last Facebook post on November 29th was supporting the locked out bricklayers at Maryís Mansions. Alan will be sorely missed by all in the WSM and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
Alan was one of a generation radicalised by the civil rights and republican struggles of the late 1960ís and 70ís. The lessons he learned from the more authoritarian aspects of those movements led him to anarchism and the realisation that a serious, committed anarchist organisation was needed. If the dream of a world where people were free of both bosses and gombeen politicians was to be realised, an anarchist organisation was the vehicle. Building this was not just a question of beautiful ideas but of concrete sustained work in the struggles of the working class. There were few if any significant struggles over the last five decades that Alan was not part of. Politics was grounded in struggle. The answers did not come down from the mountain in the hands of some self-appointed leader, instead people built towards them in struggle and through campaigns.
His generosity with his time meant he frequently played quite a central role, particularly in those years when the numbers of people willing to take a public stand on abortion access or Garda brutality were few. Even in his mid 50ís, Alan refused to be intimidated and held his ground when the Garda attacked an anti-capitalist demonstration outside the Shelbourne hotel in 2011. He was an inspiring figure for those of us who were younger and drawn towards anarchism, but had little experience in its practice. Alan demonstrated that being an anarchist was being an activist, an active trade unionist, a campaigner, a writer, an historian, and crucially, an organiser.
As part of that work Alan tirelessly wrote and spoke in favour of anarchism. While he was an active WSM member, there were few issues of any of our publications that did not contain at least one article from Alan, frequently two, with the second being signed off with his Joe King pseudonym. Those writings, talks, and recordings are part of the legacy he has left to the movement, as well as the example he set to many of us who worked with and alongside him. In time, we will produce a more detailed account of his anarchist life and actions.
We continue the struggle he dedicated so much of his life to. In the fight against the Iraq war back in 2004, there was one particular demonstration which led to a mass trespass and shut down of Shannon airport which was being used by the US Army. Hundreds of us were shaking the fence and then it collapsed. We remember Alan walking casually out towards the runway as the security scrambled to shut down the airport.
We suspect that is how he would have wanted to be remembered.
Top images shows Alan leading a pro-choice march through Temple bar in the period when the Women on Waves ship visited Dublin with the announced intention of breaking the law by providing abortions.
Video - Alan speaking at the 2015 Dublin anarchist bookfair about the successful campaign to stop the construction of a nuclear power plant at Carnsore
Link to selection of articles written by Alan MacSimoin
Caption: How nuclear power was defeated in Ireland