A former IRA man who was involved in an attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary barracks in Brookeborough in 1957 helped transform republicanism from its narrow nationalist outlook into a much broader socialist movement, his funeral was told.

Irish political leader Sean Garland, the former Workers’ Party president died from cancer last Thursday aged 84.

Dozens of people gathered outside a social club off the Falls Road in West Belfast to pay their respects as his remains arrived for a wake.

His Belfast born widow Mary received the hugs and sympathy of well-wishers.

Daughter Caoimhe was also present as the wicker coffin was wheeled from the hearse without ceremony, flowers or flags into a social club close to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Mr. Garland took part in the IRA’s Border campaign in the 1950s but after the cessation of violence was a leading proponent of the socialism which split the organisation and led to the rise of the Provisionals.

He was involved in an attack on the police barracks in Brookeborough in 1957 which led to the deaths of fellow IRA members Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon, an event marked by song and lore in republican circles.

Mr, Garland was part of a group of senior republicans, including Cathal Goulding and Tomas Mac Giolla, influenced by internationalist communism during the 1960s.

Throughout the violence of the 1980s and 1990s, the Workers’ Party promoted dialogue about peaceful co-existence in Northern Ireland.

The Official IRA split with the Belfast-led Provisionals in 1970. Mr. Garland was a key figure in the Official IRA ceasefire in 1972.

In 2005 he was arrested in Northern Ireland in relation to a US extradition warrant. He was accused by the Secret Service of conspiring with officials from North Korea and Russia to circulate counterfeit dollar bills throughout the 1990s.

H escaped to Dublin where he was arrested in 2009. He fought extradition and in 2012 the High Court ruled that US authorities had no jurisdiction to extradite him