Tom Crilly remembers Workers’ Party Ringsend stalwart Angie Murphy (née Whelan)
Life determined there was one major issue for Angie Murphy, ‘health’. Back in the 1980s the-then Health Minister, Barry Desmond T.D., included the closure of Dublin’s inner city hospitals in his plan for ‘a rationalization of the health services’. Angie condemned the Fine Gael / Labour apologists of this plan at packed public meetings in Ringsend and went on to organise marches opposing the closure of Sir Patrick Dunn’s and Baggot Street hospitals.
She always opposed moves to create a two tier health system, a subsidized private service for the rich and a downgraded public health service for ordinary working class people. She recognized how government spin is used to justify health cuts, be that from Barry Desmond or Mary Harney.
Angie (Whelan) suffered with polio and spent a large part of her childhood in hospital, and as an adult she suffered serious breathing problems which over time required a lung transplant. She made the traumatic trip to Newcastle, in preparedness for the operation, on several occasions and whilst she made friends there, it all became part of her campaign to make the Irish state carry out life saving transplant operations in this country.
Angie also campaigned on the issue of organ donor cards and highlighted the need for families to respect the wishes of the donor and their desire to give life to other people. However rather than requesting that people donate their organs in the event of an accident, the state should pass a law of “presumed consent” that allows for the removal of organs unless the donor or their family had decided to opt out.
Angie and Dermot Murphy joined the Workers’ Party in the mid-1970s when the candidate, standing for (Sinn Fein) the Workers’ Party, at that time was a young burly docker called Andy Smith. The party needed an election headquarters and Angie volunteered their home in O’Rahilly House.
For the next 30 years their home was an election office, a store house, a meeting place, and an advice centre. Angie despite her health issues, and caring for her son Dermot Jr., was at various times a party organiser, director of elections, fund raiser, local representative and candidate.
She not only volunteered herself, she involved her family, her mother, brothers and sisters, her neighbours and friends in a political struggle. They addressed envelopes, delivered leaflets, erected posters and canvassed at doors. Angie Murphy was indeed a Ringsend Rose who exposed the privileged political dynasties and gave ordinary people hope, confidence in their own ability, and the courage to fight the system.