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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 November 2014

Obituary: Benny Adams

Benny Adams (left)

Benny Adams (left)   (Click to enlarge)

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.

Arrested

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".

Ciaran Mulholland

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In The Socialist 5 November 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Cold, cruel cuts: Fight the Con-Dem attacks

The Con-Dems' Machiavellian cuts

All main parties in crisis: where will the opposition go?

Pressure mounts on zero-hour contracts

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Every penny counts: donate to Socialism 2014

TUSC fights for health centre

Carlisle: Stop the car parking tax

Socialist Students campaign reports


International socialist news and analysis

Ireland water tax: 'We won't pay'

Burkina Faso: Mass uprising ousts dictator


Socialist Party workplace news

Back fresh strikes to save the NHS

Defend firefighters' right to strike!

Victory to St Mungo's strikers

Sheffield Green workers start indefinite strike

Greenwich libraries victory

Police staff ballot for decent pay

Ritzy cinema bosses back down

Kent: Range wardens strike

Workplace news in brief


Readers' comments

Agree with Russell Brand? Join the Socialist Party!

Ebola virus crisis - no profit, no vaccine

Repel the Tories' attacks on our democratic rights

Portsmouth jihadis: austerity and alienation to blame

Take over software giants


Obituary

Benny Adams


 

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