National Assembly Against Racism

Tribute to Redmond O’Neill

Britain’s anti-racist movement mourns one of its best ever campaigners

We are devastated and deeply saddened to report the death of Redmond O’Neill. Redmond died on 21 October 2009 during surgery for cancer. The National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR) worked closely with Redmond when he was Deputy Chief of Staff for Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London.

Redmond gave big encouragement to all our campaigns at the National Assembly Against Racism. His track record on campaigning against racism was truly spectacular, particularly when viewed in the context of the electoral rise of the British National Party (BNP), a national increase in racist attacks and growing Islamophobia in society.

Redmond worked with all London’s communities and his work played a major role in reducing racist attacks in London and ensuring community harmony after the terrorist bombings of 7 July 2005.

Redmond approached his work with meticulous care and enthusiasm. He made a central contribution to NAAR’s campaigning against Islamophobia, the establishment of the Coalition to Defend Freedom of Religion, Conscience and Thought, opposition to detention without trial, the Rise festival (which became Europe’s largest anti-racist festival), the Europe-wide Cities Against Racism project, the celebration of the different communities that make up London, including the opening up of Trafalgar Square to community celebrations.

Redmond was pivotal in bringing the European Social Forum to London, and ensuring that Anti-Racism was a key theme that ran through the event. The motto of the European Social Forum is ‘Another world is possible’ — Redmond’s passion, vision and enthusiasm made it feel like a better world is inevitable.

Recently Redmond threw himself into Unite Against Fascism and was committed to building the biggest and broadest mass campaign against the BNP.

Like many other people that have paid tribute to Redmond, we at the National Assembly Against Racism found Redmond an inspiration and a pleasure to work with. His affinity with the Irish community gave him an acute understanding of the impact of racism upon diverse communities — in word and deed he did everything possible to challenge it wherever possible.

The anti-racist movement will miss its brother, friend, comrade and one of the best campaigners the movement ever had. The fight against racism goes on and Redmond’s example and achievements leave a rich legacy at a time when the need to stand up against all forms of racism is as necessary as ever.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Redmond’s partner Kate Hudson, family and friends during this difficult time.