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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Members of the Tenth Dáil - Micheál Ó Móráin

Micheál Ó Móráin (25 December 1912 – 6 May 1983) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician, who served in a wide number of Cabinet minister from 1957 until 1970, most notably as Minister for Justice and Minister for the Gaeltacht.

Ó Móráin was born in County Mayo, hailing from a strong Republican family and family members had fought in the Irish War of Independence and in the Irish Civil War on the pro-Treaty side. A solicitor by profession, Ó Móráin was first elected to Dáil Éireann for the Mayo South constituency on his second attempt at the 1938 general election. He remained on the backbenches for a number of years until he was appointed to the cabinet by Éamon de Valera in 1957 as Minister for the Gaeltacht. He was a native Irish speaker. He was appointed Minister for Lands by Taoiseach Seán Lemass, in 1959 and was re-appointed to the Gaeltacht portfolio in 1961. He remained in these two Departments until 1968.

Ó Móráin was a very outspoken deputy. He habitually referred to a constituency opponent in the Dáil chamber as "The Maggot Durkan". He also branded the then Labour Party as "left wing queers from Trinity College and Teilifís Éireann". On at least one occasion he appeared at a State function, visibly worse from drink, and proceeded to harangue the various dignitaries, in particular the British Ambassador.

Ó Móráin was appointed Minister for Justice by Taoiseach Jack Lynch in 1968. It is in this role that he is most remembered. Ó Móráin continually suffered from ill health, which was accentuated by his alcoholism. In 1970, while in hospital, Lynch came to see him and asked for his resignation as a result of the outbreak of the Arms Crisis. Lynch had received information that a number of Ministers were allegedly complicit in the importation of arms for use in Northern Ireland. Some hours later the other Ministers in question, Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey were asked to resign but refused to do so and were thus sacked. Recent evidence, from papers released under the thirty year rule, suggest that the Minister for Defence Jim Gibbons, was also named on the documentation given to Lynch, but his resignation was not asked for.

Ó Móráin later spoke of his experiences at this time. He claimed that the whole business of the Arms Trial was badly handled. He claimed that it was he who had unearthed the whole business of the arms, through undercover Garda Síochána who were working for him in Northern Ireland and that he told Lynch the identity of the person involved. He also claimed that Blaney and Haughey were not implicated with the arms in question and that the wrong people had been sacked. Ó Móráin lost his Dáil seat at the 1973 general election and retired from politics.

Ó Móráin died in Castlebar, County Mayo, on 6 May 1983.

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