Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

CoVid-19 Has Taken Tarlach Mac Niallais From Us in New York – A Courageous Fighter from North Belfast who “Saved Sodomy from Ulster”

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We are starting to lose comrades and friends dying before their time. I met Tarlach a few times in the 1980’s, a courageous member of People’s Democracy, a brilliant up-front fighter for Gay Liberation Politics – and the then-partner of Fergus O’Hare. Huge condolences to Fergus who has suffered an awful sudden and unforeseen loss. Many tributes will be written about Tarlach. – John Meehan

Ian Paisley’s DUP Tried and Failed to “Save Ulster from Sodomy”. Tarlach Mac Niallais led the Counter-Charge – a Man who Saved Sodomy from Ulster.

The article below, from the Irish News, is great humane journalism. It brings us up close to the very harsh reality of a CoVid-19 Death.

I picked it up via a Facebook link supplied by Fergus, who offers these thoughts :

Comhbhrón ó chroí lena theaghlach agus lena chairde uilig faoi bhás Tarlach. Tá an saol níos boichte agus níos dorcha gan é. Ag caoineadh an chailliúint mhór seo.

Fergus O’Hare

THE family of a north Belfast-born man who died in the United States from coronavirus have spoken of their “immense” loss.

Tarlach Mac Niallais (Terry Nellis), who was originally from the Newington area but lived in New York, died on Wednesday

The 57-year-old, who was well-known both at home and in New York as a dedicated community activist, worked as a social work manager for a project in the Queens area for people with learning difficulties.

He tested positive for Covid-19 around two weeks ago and stayed at home to self-isolate however when his condition worsened, he travelled to a hospital in Upstate New York.

Doctors initially treated the high profile LGBT activist with a new drug but when he showed no signs of improvement he was put on a ventilator and on dialysis when his kidneys began to fail.

Brendan Nellis said his brother was still able to speak to family back home in Belfast on his phone and was conscious until he was put into an induced coma.

The nurses contacted us and said he had hours to live. She said `If you want to write messages and send them, I will read them into his ear’ because the last thing to leave is his hearing”. Mr Nellis said his family did this before his brother died on Wednesday. He said his brother would be remembered as “a leader” who campaigned for equality issues and walked in the annual St Patrick’s Day parade as a representative of the LGBT community two years ago. “He was very, very giving and very loyal and everybody loved him,” he said. “He was the heart and soul of any party and he led by example. He was an activist for all equality issues. He started at home and he continued it when he went to New York.


We are absolutely proud of him. He was a leader. He was a role model. He was an immense man and we all miss him.”

Brendan, who described his brother as “a beautiful man”, said the family were planning a “Glastonbury party” in his memory when the coronavirus crisis has passed, adding that they will also fulfil his wishes for his ashes to be scattered at sites in Belfast, Newcastle, Co Down and in Mexico, where his husband, Juan is from. “It is just the strangest thing,” he said. “I’m old enough to have gone through the Troubles and have buried many people. None of those were as bad as this. “It is such an immense loss”.

Tarlach Mac Niallais, Cathal Ó Ciorragáin, Máirtín Mac an Ghoill
Poster for A Queer Céilí at the Marty Forsythe, Belfast

Belfast 1983 Events; Artistically Commemorated in Belfast, 2019 :

Delegates arriving at Queen’s University Belfast from all over Ireland and Britain for the first ever National Union of Students Lesbian and Gay Conference to be held in Northern Ireland were confronted by around 150 placard-waving protesters from the Save Ulster From Sodomy campaign – prompting some student activists to create T-shirts and badges emblazoned with the slogan ‘Save Sodomy From Ulster’.

In the face of such external pressures combined with strife within the weekend-long conference where the NUS executive was attempting to enforce a ‘no politics’ rule on delegates’ discussions under threat of expulsion, it was a fairly tense time for those involved.

Thus, an unexpected invitation of a night out in west Belfast away from the QUB-based pressure cooker offered those at the conference a welcome chance for attendees to blow off some steam.

On Saturday October 22, a convoy of black hacks arrived at the university to transport delegates to the Martin Forsythe Social Club in Turf Lodge, where they were able to savour their first proper experience of Irish hospitality.

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