‘Pat The Picket’ Allen R.I.P.


Pat Allen, one of Cork’s most colourful and staunch protestors, died early on Wednesday morning at Marymount Hospice in Cork.  He was suffering from cancer and had fought the illness bravely for the last number of years.  Only last month, Pat attended the Winter Talk on Tadhg Barry at Solidarity Books.  He enjoyed the meeting, he said, but complained that he was very tired and finding it hard to make it through each day.

Pat was a republican and drew a great deal of substance and vigour from that movement and its traditions.  He was vehemently opposed to the presence of British troops in Ireland and a good number of years back, during a visit by Gerry Adams to Cork in the lead up to the Anglo-Irish agreement, Pat was ‘escorted’ from a public meeting after speaking out against Adams; he was extremely annoyed about being censored.

Pat Allen became widely known in Cork for his sheer persevere at the art of protesting.  He was more often than not to be found on the street, sometimes armed with leaflets and, at other times, armed with his own hand-made placards.  In recent years he also became famous for appearing in costume and in thinly veiled disguises.  At one memorable May Day protest, at the time of the anti-bin charges campaign in Cork, he emerged precariously from a wheelie bin located near the speakers' podium, to proclaim his opposition to the double-tax; his 'appearance' was met with loud applause.

His role call of campaign involvement included the Cork Unemployed Action Group (active during the early 80s), the Free The Old Head of Kinsale campaign, Cork Householders Against Service Charges, Cork Anti-War Campaign, Immigrant Solidarity, the Anti-H-Blocks Campaign, Dunnes Stores Strikers Support Group, the Free Nicky Kelly Campaign and, in recent years, Shell2Sea.  This is just to name some of his many contributions.

In 2007 Pat was arrested following a protest in Cork.  Wearing a Santa suit he attempted to draw attention to the plight of the homeless in the city.  2007 was still a period of boom in Ireland and Pat was scandalised by the injustice of what was happening – there had been a number of death from the cold among the homeless.  Charged and convicted on trumped charges of causing damage to council property, he was sent to Cork prison.  In honour of contribution and his steadfastness in struggle, in 2008, Pat Allen was given a special award of recognition by the Cork’s May Day Organising group.

Pat Allen will be greatly missed by all those active in the fight against injustice.  He brought colour, vitality and a great sense of anger about what was wrong in society.  A big presence at meetings, he presented a formidable difficulty to anyone who had to chair a meeting that he was at.  He was nonetheless widely loved and will be cherished in the memories of all those who had the pleasure of protesting alongside him.

Words: Kevin Doyle