This Saturday sees a historical public meeting on the life of Dublin-born Trotskyist and Saor Éire activist Peter Graham. He was tortured and shot dead in a flat off Stephen’s Green on 25 October 1971 aged 26. A cloud of mystery, silence and betrayal still hangs over the incident to this day.
The talk will be chaired by Alan MacSimoin (Stoneybatter & Smithfield People’s History Project) and the main speaker will be historian Rayner O’Connor Lysaght who was a close friend of Graham’s. It takes place at 4.30pm in The Cobblestone pub, Dublin 7.
Growing up in the Liberties at 46 Reginald Street, Graham attended Bolton St. College of Technology and later worked as an electrician within Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) where he was a shop-steward for the Electrical Trade Union.
A founding member of the Young Socialists, he helped organise a picket of the French Embassy in June 1968 in solidarity with the student and workers revolt and a picket of the Department of Labour in opposition to proposed anti-Trade Union legalisation in October 1968.
He was later involved with Saor Éire and the International Marxist Group in London. On his return to Dublin, he became active with the Revolutionary Marxist Group and helped established the Irish Section of the Fourth International.
On 27th October 1971, he was brutally beaten with a hammer and shot in the in the flat he shared with his comrade O’Connor Lysaght at 110, St. Stephen’s Green.
Bob Purdie (1940-2014) wrote that Graham was “falsely suspected of diverting money from a bank robbery” by rogue elements of Saor Eire who “tortured him in an attempt to make him confess.” Liam O’Ruairc in a 2005 piece went further and said that he “had been assassinated by two of his own comrades from Cork (including Larry White, himself later killed by the Official IRA in Cork in 1975) in a dispute over money.”
No-one was ever arrested or charged with his murder.
His funeral was attended by hundreds of people including Bernadette Devlin MP, Eamonn McCann and Michael Farrell. The oration was given by Tariq Ali who was pictured beside Charlie Bird (former member of the Young Socialists) giving the clenched salute.
In December 1972, three members of the League for a Workers’ Republic (Basil Miller, Carol Coulter and Paddy Healy) wrote a letter to the Irish Press denouncing a recent tabloid article in the British Press which slandered the three Saor Éire activists who died in the 1971-72 period .
In May 1973, eight imprisoned members of Saor Éire released a statement severing their connections with the organisations due to the activity of “undesirable elements” within the movement. They particularly made reference to the “cloud of mystery” which still hung over the murder of “sincere and dedicated revolutionary” Peter Graham.