Socialist Worker

Frank O’Donnell, 1947-2013

by Marilyn Tweedie
Issue No. 2376

Frank ODonnell

Frank O'Donnell

Comrades will be sad to learn of the death of Frank O’Donnell from cancer. Frank joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Edinburgh in the early 80s. 

He was inspired by socialist politics and became a leading popular figure in the ongoing struggles. These included the miners’ strike, anti-racist and anti-fascist activity. He hated racism.

Frank’s warmth and enthusiasm won many members to the SWP. He had an intuitive ability to understand where people were politically and emotionally, and to bring them towards revolutionary politics. 

He knew the importance of involving people so that they owned the struggle. He would step aside and encourage others to have centre stage.  

Above all, he was great fun. He loved to talk and laugh over a few pints. He often quoted Trotsky, “While fighting to change the way of life, one mustn’t forget the reasons for living”.

In 1987, Frank moved to Gateshead on Tyneside. He fulfilled an ambition in obtaining a degree. 

This was the time of the fight against the Poll Tax. During it, he was known on his estate as “Mr Poll Tax”.

In 1997 he spent a year in Mexico. He made a trip to Trotsky’s house. Despite being involved in a life threatening car crash a few days later, it remained a high point.

Returning to Edinburgh in 1999 for a while, he worked in Bookmarks the socialist bookshop three days a week as its accountant. 

At home he was involved in building the party, the Stop the War Coalition and standing as a councillor in 2003.

Illness forced Frank to give up his work with autistic adults, and to step back politically.

But he never lost his vision for a socialist world. Shortly before his illness returned, he demonstrated in Berwick against the English and Scottish Defence Leagues.

Our sympathy goes to his son, Brendan, his family, friends and comrades. We’ll miss you!

Article information

Tue 22 Oct 2013, 16:40 BST
Issue No. 2376
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