Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/832/19631
Obituary: Benny Adams
Benny Adams died after a long illness on 6 October, aged 65. Benny was active in Militant, the Socialist Party's forerunner, in Northern Ireland from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. Benny had seven brothers and sisters-and lived in his early years at the British Army Barracks in Ballymena, where his father was a career soldier.
In 1976 Benny and several comrades, including brother Ronnie, came across Militant. All from a Protestant background, they formed their own socialist group in Ballymena. Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was growing and threatening to impose his fundamentalist ideas on everyone else by, for example, closing the local swimming pool on Sundays.
Benny and his comrades led the opposition. While on a cavalcade through the town, Paisley spotted Benny, and menacingly bellowed: "There stands an atheist!"
Alternative to sectarianism
At the 1977 local government elections the DUP took control of Ballymena council. By then the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) had collapsed as even a possible alternative to the sectarian parties.
Militant supporters took part in the Labour and Trade Union Coordinating Group (LTUG) which stood in elections to put forward a non-sectarian, working class-based alternative. The remnants of the NILP merely issued a statement condemning the LTUG and its links to Trotskyism.
Militant recruited many young people in the early 1980s through setting up the Young Socialists (YS). Benny had obvious ability to reach out to young people questioning the system.
A dozen young people attended YS meetings and carried out street campaigning each Saturday, often suffering harassment by the Ulster Defence Regiment who routinely forced teenagers up against a wall, at gunpoint, in front of shoppers.
Benny became a full-time political worker and in the mid-1980s moved to Belfast mainly to work on the Militant newspaper.
During the Chelsea Girl shop strike in the late 80s the RUC tried to make Benny turn informer after arresting him during picketing. Benny reported straight back to Militant comrades, who went to the press. Next day the police's murky anti-socialist tactics were exposed in the Irish News.
Benny was creative with layout and design, a gifted guitar player, a painter and chess-player. But he was troubled by severe illness from his early 50s, robbing him of his intellect, memory, and eventually the power of speech.
The Socialist Party continues the brave struggle, begun in difficult times by comrades like Benny. In Benny's own words, we still "advocate socialist policies and raise socialist demands in all areas of Northern Ireland".
In The Socialist 5 November 2014:
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