Tributes paid to tireless political activist Ron Mackay

Ron Mackay
Ron Mackay

A packed village hall in Milton of Campsie gathered to celebrate the remarkable life of local man Ron Mackay recently.

Ron passed away recently at the age of 93 but left family, friends and fellow activists with a huge amount of happy memories that could not be done justice in what was a day of celebration of a life well spent.

Born in 1923 to a family of socialists and pacifists, it was an upbringing that shaped his fervour to see peace and equality for all through decades of political activism.

The horrors of nuclear weapons and the fight to rid the world of them was his lifelong crusade.

Ron was in Madras on national service when the Hiroshima bomb was dropped. He soon recognised that this weapon was not a device to end all wars but a direct threat to the continuing existence of humanity.

Ron’s activism was not just for that single cause - a cause that saw his arrest in 1962 at the anti Polaris demos at the Holy Loch. Ron was a physics teacher at the time and explicitly told his activism would harm his career. There would be no promotion if he did not stop protesting. Even into his nineties he still was to be seen at the North Gate in Faslane or down at the peace camp entertaining the campaigners with his newly learned saxophone solos.

Ron was a member of the Communist party for almost eight decades and was a member of the Scottish Socialist Party for the last 20.

Richie Venton, the party’s organiser, said Ron had “a red thread of activism” through the events of our modern history, adding a reminder that “the struggle for peace and equality continues having lost a quiet giant of the movement”.

Maggie Sell, founder member of the peace camp, described Ron as “the man with the twinkle in his eye” and as having “a passion for humanity”.

Villagers recounted how Ron had helped save the very hall the service was held in and would proudly lead the Remembrance commemorations wearing both the traditional red poppy and white poppy of peace.

Tributes came from modern day politicians through a motion in the Scottish parliament.

Signed by Labour and SNP MSPs and laid down by Green MSP Ross Greer - who became friendly with Ron during the referendum and at the gates of Faslane.

The motion set out the sadness at the passing of a great campaigner and humanitarian.

Ron was an inspiration to many across Scotland and will be sorely missed but fondly held in the hearts of his family friends and comrades.