Pat Allen, or ‘Pat the picket’ as he was affectionately known to his friends and comrades, is three years gone!
Republican activist, social justice campaigner and prolific protester he was well known in Cork and beyond for his colourful protests in a variety of costumes, selling Lilies at Easter and the Saoirse Newspaper at Kilmichael and elsewhere. Dressed in a variety of costumes Pat always brought a smile to everyone who knew him.
Pat’s activism goes well back to the 70’s, below is a list of the many campaigns he was involved in down the years from Kevin Doyle’s obituary in 2010.
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.
I met Pat in Cork Prison in December 2007 , for his protest against Homelessness he was put on the landing of B1, the screws had a cabinet on B1 where they inserted news clippings related to convicted prisoners in an attempt to either shame or mock them. “Bad Santa in Prison after kicking court door” was the title of the article the examiner ran about Pat, Pat was actually delighted he made the papers. At the time Pat had been suffering from Diabetes and Cancer and had complained that the prison Doctor and screws hadn’t given him his proper medication, i went to the medical area to ask on Pat’s behalf about his medication but was ignored, anyone who knew Pat well knew he needed a lot of medication, thankfully Pat was released after a few days, not long before Christmas, much to the relief of his Friends and Family.
Towards his final days Pat had complained he would not make the annual commemoration at Kilmichael , sadly he was right and he passed away a couple of weeks before it. His funeral drew people from nearly every political party and movement in Cork, from one end of the political spectrum to the other, such was Pat’s contribution to local activism that comrades and political enemies alike were there to say farewell.
We all have many memories of Pat, the people of Rossport remember him for standing with them against shell, even a bucket of sand from the beach in Rossport was buried with Pat as sign of their appreciation of the man. Some will remember him as a Pirate down at the Old Head of Kinsale, or as Batman down at Daunt square! Pat is a big loss to political activism in Cork and will be remembered with pride for a long time to come by all who knew him.
Slán go fóil Comrade