Irish victims of Stalin uncovered

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Vienna-based historian Dr Barry McLoughlin never expected to find an Irish name while researching the fate of Austrians who died in Stalin's purges in the Soviet Union of the 1930s.

But when the name Patrick Breslin appeared in a Moscow News newspaper article in 1989, it was to begin a journey of discovery which would tell the tragic stories of three of Stalin's victims.

Millions died in the purges, but few realised that among them were a number of Irish who had travelled to the Soviet Union as communist idealists in the early years of the Soviet Union.

Patrick Breslin was hand-picked in 1928 by Irish trade union leader Jim Larkin to study at the International Lenin School in Moscow, the training ground for a future cadre or elite of world communist leaders.

But Breslin's free-thinking landed him in trouble, his views on spirituality not in keeping with his hard-line communist teachers who expelled him for his views.

He began working as a journalist in Moscow, married a Russian woman and had two children before the marriage foundered.

But he found love again in Moscow, this time to an Irish woman from Belfast, Margaret "Daisy" McMackin.

Their marriage in 1936 was at the height of Stalin's purges. When Daisy became pregnant, she returned to Ireland to have her child, the couple planning to reunite shortly afterwards in their homeland...

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