Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy
Eoghan Harris (Independent)
I was very moved by the tributes to Joe Sherlock from his political colleagues here. I did not really know him in that capacity and my knowledge of him is very different. The Joe Sherlock I knew was much more steely, as he helped the republican movement come out of a cul-de-sac and into the broader stream of the socialist and constitutional struggle.
I knew him through ten years of very bitter struggle within the republican movement after the split and he was a man of steel in setting his face like flint against the northern campaign of the Provisional IRA. He never feared to stand up to them or say what a real republican should be, a man who wanted to unite Protestant and Catholic in the centre.
I do not wish him to go to his grave without reminding people that behind the warm public representative, the great man of the soil and the spalpeen — he came from the labouring class — was a man who played a crucial role in Irish politics by helping to bridge the great republican movement away from force. That has only reached its final days in the very welcome decision of the Provisional IRA to call off its campaign and do business in Northern Ireland. In that great, long, tortured, difficult and very noble project, Joe Sherlock played a significant part. I pay tribute to that side of his legacy.