Fionntan Padraig MacDermott, known to all as Kelly, died peacefully in hospital last week after a long battle with cancer.
A member of the Socialist Worekrs Party (SWP) since 1983, Kelly came to the party as a striker in the national residential workers’ dispute of that year.
His early years as a comrade were dominated by building support for the miners, financially, on picket lines and on demonstrations.
It was during this period that Kelly also wrestled with his own political convictions.
Born to a father with a staunch Irish republican history, Kelly showed his customary fierce commitment to this tradition.
Eventually coming to embrace the revolutionary socialist position on the struggle for national liberation, Kelly effected a political change which belied his legendary personal stubbornness. Once convinced, Kelly was an unswerving and proud socialist.
A rebel to the core, Kelly reserved special disdain for the forces of the British state.
Serious political commitment often combined with his particular brand of personal stroppiness.
Once detained by the police on a miners’ demonstration, Kelly showed his scorn for the police by giving his name as Mickey Mouse from Toytown.
Over a pint or three, Kelly would delight in telling this and several similar stories – repeatedly – always followed by his trademark guffaw.
Most recently he was an active member of the Hammersmith branch of the SWP and worked in the SWP’s finance department, working hard to ensure the success of the current Socialist Worker Appeal.
When he became too ill to work he took on the job of running the North West London SW Appeal drive from his front room – raising thousands of pounds in a few months.
Kelly’s sense of humour was never far from the surface, necessarily so for someone with a lifetime love of the Spurs. However, not one for an easy compromise, he never extended it to the Arsenal.
Fourteen years ago Kelly became the proud father of Saoirse. His love for his daughter sustained him in the fraught final months of his life.
When feeling the anguish of the impending separation he would repeat what he had often said over the years of how his life had been enriched by the arrival and development of his beloved Saoirse.
Kelly was always determined to encourage his own sense of independence and rebelliousness in his daughter.
I hope someone told him he succeeded. By becoming and being a father, Kelly seemed to have taken himself by surprise.
Kelly MacDermott was a fighter – someone you wanted on your side. Luckily, he was on ours.
Kelly – Dad, Comrade, Mate – we’ll miss you.
Kelly’s funeral is at Mortlake Crematorium, Kew Meadow Path, Richmond TW9 4EN, 2.30pm, Friday 14 December.
The family have asked that donations are made to the Kelly MacDermott Memorial Fund in lieu of flowers. Post donations to the Kelly MacDermott Memorial Fund, PO Box 42184, London, SW8 2WD. Please make cheques payable to the Kelly MacDermott Memorial Fund or ring in to make a card donation on 020 7819 1170.
Anwar Ditta, a heroic anti-racist campaigner, died last week.