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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Seán Mac Stíofáin

Seán Mac Stíofáin

Seán Mac Stíofáin (17 February 1928 – 18 May 2001) was an Irish republican paramilitary activist born in London, who became associated with the republican movement in Ireland after serving in the Royal Air Force. He was the first chief of staff of the Provisional IRA, a position he held between 1969 and 1972.

Although he used the Gaelicised version of name in later life, Mac Stíofáin was born as John Edward Drayton Stephenson in Leytonstone, London in 1928. An only child, his father was an English solicitor's clerk, his mother was of Protestant Irish descent born in East Belfast. He stated his mother had left an impression on him at the age of seven with her instruction:
"I'm Irish, therefore you're Irish....Don't forget it".
His childhood was marred by his alcoholic, wife-beating father. His mother, who doted over her son, died when Mac Stíofáin was only 10. Mac Stíofáin attended Catholic schools, where he came into contact with pro-Sinn Féin Irish students.

He left school in 1944 at the age of 16 and worked in the building trade before being conscripted into the RAF to do his national service in 1945. He attained the rank of corporal. After leaving the RAF, he returned to London where he became increasingly involved with Irish organisations in Britain. He first joined Conradh na Gaeilge, then the Irish Anti-Partition League, bought (and later sold) the United Irishman, joined Sinn Féin in London and eventually in 1949 helped to organise a unit of the IRA. He first met his wife, Máire, who was from Castletownroche, County Cork, Ireland. Mac Stíofáin then began work for British Rail.

On 25 July 1953, Mac Stíofáin took part in an IRA arms raid on the armoury of the Officer Training Corps at Felstead, a public school in Essex. In that raid, the IRA netted over 108 rifles, ten Bren and eight Sten guns, two mortars and dummy mortar bombs. The police seized the van carrying the stolen weapons some hours later due to it being so overloaded that it was going at about 20 mph on the Braintree bypass with a traffic build up in its rear. On 19 August 1953, he was sentenced, along with Cathal Goulding and Manus Canning, to eight years' imprisonment by a court in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. It was in the run-up to the raid that Mac Stíofáin learned his first few words in Irish from Cathal Goulding. He later became fluent in the language, which he spoke with an English accent.

While incarcerated in Wormwood Scrubs and Brixton prisons, he learned not only a smattering of Greek from the Cypriot EOKA prisoners (he befriended Nikos Sampson) but also "the realities of an anti-British rule guerrilla campaign".

Upon parole in 1959, Mac Stíofáin went to the Republic of Ireland with his wife and young family and settled in Dublin, and later Navan, County Meath, and became known under the Irish version of his name. Contrary to a number of accounts, this was not his first visit to the country and he had been to Ireland a month before the Felstead raid in 1953. He worked as a salesman for an Irish language organisation. He remained active in the IRA and gave the Bodenstown oration in 1959. A staunch and lifelong devoted Catholic, he was uneasy with the left-wing political direction – under way from 1964 – his erstwhile friend and IRA chief of staff, Cathal Goulding, was bringing the IRA. Appointed IRA Director of Intelligence in 1966, Mac Stíofáin continued to voice his opposition to the Goulding line and was gaining support amongst members. Despite his hostility to the left wing direction he was prominent in agitations in Midleton against ground-rent landlordism, the Dublin Housing Action Committee and against foreign buy-outs of Irish farmland in County Meath where he moved with his family in 1966.

A tall, well-built man, Mac Stíofáin was regarded as a rather stoical personality who did not drink or smoke. He was a devout Catholic and was infuriated by an article in the United Irishman, by Roy Johnston condemning the reciting of the Rosary at republican commemorations as "sectarian". For refusing to distribute the newspaper, he was suspended from the IRA for six months.

When an IRA Special Army Convention voted to drop the principle of abstentionism in December 1969, a troika consisting of Seán Mac Stiofáin, Dáithí Ó Conaill and Seamus Twomey together with others established themselves as a "Provisional Army Council", in anticipation of a contentious 1970 Sinn Féin Árd Fheis. At this, the Marxist leadership of Sinn Féin failed to attain the prerequisite two-thirds majority necessary to overturn Sinn Féin's constitutional opposition to partitionist assemblies. This was despite the disbandment of anti-abstentionist branches and district committees, such as the 1966 dissolution of the entire North Kerry Comhairle Ceantair of Sinn Féin, embracing 13 Cumainn and 250 members and including three local councillors and expulsion of leading figures such as Miss May Daly (sister of Charlie Daly, executed at Drumboe, Donegal, in 1923), John Joe Rice, Sinn Féin TD, 1957–61 and John Joe Sheehy, veteran Republican and Kerry footballer. Many others were similarly ousted from the organisation. The underlying issue was the uncompromising stand of Kerry in refusing recognition to Westminster, Leinster House and Stormont.

Mac Stiofáin was subsequently appointed the chief of staff of the Provisional Army Council. At the Sinn Féin Árd Fheis in Dublin on 10 January 1970, Mac Stíofáin declared from the podium that he pledged his "allegiance to the Provisional Army Council" before leading the walkout of disgruntled members to form what would become Provisional Sinn Féin. The split also ended Mac Stíofáin’s friendship with Cathal Goulding, who went on to serve as chief of staff of the rival Official IRA. Although both had been good personal friends before the split; Goulding was later scathing about "that English Irishman".

The "Provisional Army Council" in the coming months would command the loyalty of the IRA national organisation save for a few isolated instances (that of the IRA Company of the Lower Falls road, Belfast under the command of Billy McMillen and other small units in Derry, Newry, Dublin and Wicklow). Mac Stiofáin's men soon came to be known as the Provisional IRA.

There was a similar ideological split in Sinn Féin whereby a majority of the remaining party under the leadership of Tomás Mac Giolla (which contested elections first as Official Sinn Féín, then Sinn Féin The Workers Party) aligned itself to Cathal Goulding's Official IRA, as the Marxist rump came to be known. The party inherited the historic Sinn Féin headquarters of Gardiner St thus giving legitimacy to it, in the eyes of some, to be the legitimate successor of that party and briefly known popularly as Sinn Féin Gardiner St. Whereas those supportive of Seán Mac Stiofáin's "Provisional Army Council" came to be known popularly as the Provisional IRA and Provisional Sinn Féin or Sinn Féin Kevin St. That party contested elections as "Sinn Féin". The Official IRA were known informally as the stickies, given the tradition to affix Easter Lilies with sticky gum, rather than pins.

According to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, it was Seán Mac Stíofáin, as chief of staff of the Provisionals, who invented the name "P. Ó Néill". P. O'Neill is the name appended to IRA declarations to show that the statement is genuine.

Nicknamed 'Mac the Knife', Mac Stíofáin was a dedicated "physical force" republican, who believed that violence was the only means to bring about an end to British rule in Northern Ireland. In his autobiography, he set out the aims of the Provisional IRA as moving from "area defence" to "combined defence and retaliation" and then a "third phase of launching an all-out offensive action against the British occupation system". He also gave a detailed account of his development of the tactic of the "one shot sniper". He is said to have taken part in an unsuccessful attack on Crossmaglen RUC station in August 1969.

His military strategy was summed up in his own words by "escalate, escalate, escalate" and in 1972, by far the bloodiest year of the conflict, the IRA killed around 100 British soldiers and lost 90 of their own members.

On 7 July 1972, Mac Stíofáin led an IRA delegation to a secret meeting with members of the British government, led by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland William Whitelaw, at Cheyne Walk in London. This was the Chelsea home of millionaire Tory minister, Paul Channon. Other IRA leaders in attendance were Dáithí Ó Conaill, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Seamus Twomey and Ivor Bell. Very much in charge, Mac Stíofáin spelled out the three basic demands of the Provisionals: (1) The future of Ireland to be decided by the people of Ireland acting as a unit; (2) a British government Declaration of Intent to withdraw from Ireland by January 1975 and (3) the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

The British claimed this was impossible owing to the commitment it had given to unionists. The talks ended in failure, and as a briefing for prime minister Edward Heath later noted, Whitelaw "found the experience of meeting and talking to Mr Mac Stíofáin very unpleasant". Mac Stíofáin said that Whitelaw put up his bluff exterior at first, but after a couple of minutes let it drop and showed himself to be a shrewd political operator; he also noted that Whitelaw was one of the few Englishmen to pronounce his name correctly.

Following the unsuccessful talks, Mac Stíofáin ordered an intensification of the IRA campaign which peaked on 21 July 1972, or Bloody Friday, when the IRA detonated 22 car bombs in less than two hours across Belfast, killing nine people and injuring 130. In his memoirs, Mac Stíofáin described the operation as "a concerted sabotage offensive" intended to demonstrate the IRA was capable of planting a large number of bombs at once.

At a meeting between British Prime Minister Ted Heath and Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch in Munich on 4 September 1972, the former asked the latter if Mac Stíofáin could be arrested. In reply, Lynch said that he couldn't as the evidence against him was flimsy and he had a high degree of public support.

On 19 November 1972, a controversial interview with Mac Stíofáin was broadcast on the RTÉ This Week radio programme. He was arrested on the same day and the interview was later used as evidence against him on a trial of IRA membership and on 25 November he was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. Political fallout arising from the interview was considerable and some days later, Fianna Fáil minister Gerry Collins sacked the entire RTÉ Authority.

Jailed in the Curragh Prison, Mac Stíofáin immediately embarked on a hunger and thirst strike. He was taken to the Dublin Mater Hospital, from where an IRA unit, including two members disguised as priests, unsuccessfully tried to free him on 26 November 1972. After this, he was transferred to the Military Hospital of the Curragh, in County Kildare. He ended his thirst strike on 28 November.

His hunger strike led to tumultuous scenes in Dublin and protests outside the Mater Hospital where he was visited by the then Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Dermot Ryan, and his predecessor, Dr. John Charles McQuaid.

After fifty-seven days, he was ordered off his protest by the IRA Army Council for "bringing the IRA into disrepute". Some have reported that IRA Council members Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill ordered him off the strike. However, Ó Brádaigh, by this time, had also been arrested. In fact, when he was transferred into the Glasshouse of the Curragh, Ó Brádaigh welcomed him.

Following standard procedures, Mac Stíofáin lost his rank upon arrest and he never again regained his influence within the IRA after his release in April 1973.

Afterwards he was sidelined, and was given a job of distribution manager and part-time columnist with the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht/Republican News in the late 1970s. He resigned from the party in 1982 after a disagreement about strategy at the Ard Fheis (annual convention), when a majority opposed the Éire Nua policy, which envisaged the setting up of regional governments in each of the traditional four provinces on the island.

In March 1983, Mac Stíofáin appealed to the IRA to declare a ceasefire. He refused to join Republican Sinn Fein in 1986.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Mac Stíofáin became active in the Irish language organisation Conradh na Gaeilge. At that organisation’s centenary celebration held in Dublin’s O'Connell Street in 1993, he was a guest of honour on the platform. He remained a member of the standing committee (Coiste Gnó) of Conradh na Gaeilge until his death. He lived in the Gaeltacht in Baile Gibb/Oristown southeast of Ceanannas Mór and next to the ancient site of the Tailteann Games. Visitors to his home were greeted at the front door with a mat saying 'Labhair Gaeilge Anseo' ('Speak Irish here').

In 1993, Mac Stíofáin suffered a stroke. On 18 May 2001, he died in Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, County Meath, after a long illness at the age of 73. He is buried in St Mary's Cemetery, Navan.

Despite his controversial career in the IRA, many of his former comrades (and rivals) paid tribute to him after his death. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, who attended the funeral, issued a glowing tribute, referring to Mac Stíofáin as an "outstanding IRA leader during a crucial period in Irish history" and as the "man for the job" as first Provisional IRA Chief of Staff. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness also attended. In her oration, Ita Ní Chionnaigh of Conradh na Gaeilge, whose flag draped the coffin, lambasted Mac Stíofáin’s "character assassination" by the "gutter press" and praised him as a man who had been "interested in the rights of men and women and people anywhere in the world who were oppressed, including Irish speakers in Ireland, who are also oppressed".

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Desmond Joseph "Des" O'Malley

Desmond Joseph "Des" O'Malley 

Desmond Joseph "Des" O'Malley (born 2 February 1939) is a former Irish politician. Once prominent as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) and government minister in the 1970s and 1980s, he went on to found the Progressive Democrats and serve as the party's first leader from 1985 until 1993. He retired from politics at the 2002 general election.

O'Malley was born in Limerick in 1939. His family had long been involved in politics: His grandfather was killed during the War of Independence by the Black and Tans, two of his uncles and his father held the office of Mayor of Limerick, and his uncle Donogh O'Malley was a Minister for Education.

O'Malley was educated at the Jesuit Crescent College and at University College Dublin, from which he graduated with a degree in law in 1962. In 1968, after Donogh O'Malley died suddenly, Desmond O'Malley was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) in the subsequent by-election for the Limerick East constituency. At the time it was believed that this by-election victory was partly due to Neil Blaney and his "Donegal Mafia". Neil Blaney would subsequently regret aiding O'Malley in his election.

Following the 1969 general election, O'Malley was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, and also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Jim Gibbons. O'Malley had a central role in the prosecutions that arose from the Arms Crisis of 1970. The case against the accused government ministers Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney was dismissed in the Supreme Court, and both ministers were acquitted.

In 1970, O'Malley succeeded Micheál Ó Móráin as Minister for Justice. His plans to introduce internment without trial for Provisional IRA suspects in the Republic were not implemented, but as the subject of an assassination threat, he was permitted to carry a handgun and was frequently moved from house to house.

At the 1977 general election Fianna Fáil received a 23-seat majority in Dáil Éireann and O'Malley became Minister for Industry and Commerce at a time when Ireland's economic fortunes were going into rapid decline. In 1979, following Jack Lynch's resignation as Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fáil, two candidates fought in the leadership election, George Colley and Charles Haughey. O'Malley and Martin O'Donoghue managed Colley's campaign, but Haughey won. Colley and O'Malley retained their positions in the government, but O'Donoghue's department was scrapped.

Following the February 1982 general election Fianna Fáil, led by Haughey, failed to win an overall majority in the Dáil. Haughey was seen as the main reason for the election defeat. George Colley threw his support behind O'Malley as a leadership challenger, but no vote on the party leadership was taken. Haughey was elected Taoiseach again after negotiating confidence and supply arrangements with the Sinn Féin The Workers' Party and two independents. O'Malley was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism.

A large number of TDs quickly grew disillusioned with Haughey's leadership and threw their support behind O'Malley in an effort to oust the incumbent leader. On 1 October 1982, a challenge to Haughey was initiated by the Kildare TD, Charlie McCreevy. O'Malley was on holiday in Spain at the time but rushed back to put his own name forward as a possible alternative to Haughey. He and his supporters resigned from the Cabinet. Haughey won an open vote by 58 votes to 22, with the result that those TDs who voted against Haughey, including O'Malley, became known as the Gang of 22.

In 1983, a Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition government took office and its Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan, revealed that Haughey's government had been involved in the tapping of certain journalists' telephones. This set off another leadership struggle, with O'Malley, Gerry Collins, Michael O'Kennedy, Brian Lenihan and John P. Wilson all showing an interest in replacing Haughey. However, an official inquiry into the telephone tapping cleared Haughey of any wrongdoing and put more blame on Martin O'Donoghue than the other TDs involved. Haughey retained the leadership by 40 votes to 33.

George Colley died in 1983 and Martin O'Donoghue was no longer a TD. O'Malley became isolated within Fianna Fáil, with many of his supporters giving up hope of ever beating Haughey.

In May 1984, the New Ireland Forum report was published. Haughey had been a key figure in the Forum and had agreed to several possible solutions for solving the problem of Northern Ireland. However he responded to the publication by declaring that the only possible solution was a United Ireland. O'Malley strongly criticised this position and accused Haughey of stifling debate. At a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party to discuss the report the whip was removed from O'Malley and he became an independent TD.

In early 1985, a bill was introduced by the Fine Gael–Labour Party government to liberalise the sale of contraceptives. Fianna Fáil opposed the bill, but O'Malley considered it a matter of conscience and wanted to support it. When it came to a vote he abstained. On 26 February 1985 he was summoned to a party meeting and charged with "conduct unbecoming". Following a roll-call vote he was expelled from Fianna Fáil by 73 votes to 9.

Immediately afterwards, Desmond O'Malley was contacted by a young Fine Gael activist, Michael McDowell, who encouraged O'Malley to found a new political party and offered any help he could give. On 21 December 1985, O'Malley announced the formation of the Progressive Democrats. He was joined by Mary Harney (like O'Malley, an independent TD expelled from Fianna Fáil), and later by Fianna Fáil TDs Bobby Molloy and Pearse Wyse and Fine Gael TD Michael Keating. At the 1987 general election, the Progressive Democrats won 14 seats, making the new party the third biggest in the Dáil. Among the TDs elected were O'Malley and his cousin Patrick O'Malley; Anne Colley, daughter of George Colley, Martin Gibbons, son of the former Fianna Fáil Minister; and Martin Cullen. Fianna Fáil returned to power with Haughey as head of a minority government.

In May 1989, Haughey called an early general election in the hope of winning an overall majority, but Fianna Fáil actually lost seats. The Progressive Democrats also lost seats, but held the balance of power. Haughey failed to be elected Taoiseach, as the Progressive Democrats voted for Fine Gael's leader Alan Dukes, but after Haughey formally resigned he entered into negotiations with the Progressive Democrats about forming a coalition. On 5 July 1989 Haughey and O'Malley agreed a deal for government, and O'Malley was appointed Minister for Industry and Commerce.

In 1990, Fianna Fáil's nominee in the presidential election was Brian Lenihan. A few weeks before the election a scandal broke over the accusation that Lenihan had phoned the President, Patrick Hillery in 1982, asking him not to dissolve the Dáil following the fall of Garret FitzGerald's government. Lenihan had always denied this, but now new evidence had come to light. O'Malley told Haughey that the Progressive Democrats would pull out of the coalition and support a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition unless Lenihan left the government or Haughey opened an investigation into the incident. Haughey sacked Lenihan.

In early 1992, the programme for government was up for renewal. When it was revealed by Seán Doherty that Haughey had authorised the tapping of two journalists' telephones in 1982, O'Malley decided that the Progressive Democrats could no longer remain in his government. Haughey resigned on 11 February 1992 and was replaced as party leader and Taoiseach by Albert Reynolds. O'Malley and the Progressive Democrats continued in the coalition until Reynolds accused O'Malley of being "dishonest" while giving evidence to the Beef Tribunal. The collapse of the coalition led to the general election. Fianna Fáil returned to power in coalition with the Labour Party and the Progressive Democrats moved into Opposition.

In October 1993, O'Malley retired as leader of the Progressive Democrats. He was succeeded by Mary Harney, one of the co-founders of the party. In 1994, O'Malley ran for the European Parliament but was defeated by Pat Cox, a sitting MEP who left the Progressive Democrats to run as an independent when O'Malley was selected as the candidate to replace him. O'Malley remained as a TD until his retirement from politics at the 2002 general election, when he was succeeded as TD by his cousin Tim O'Malley. His daughter, Fiona O'Malley, was elected to the Dáil as a Progressive Democrats TD. His son, Eoin O'Malley, is a political scientist in Dublin City University.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Michael "Godfrey" Timmins

Michael "Godfrey" Timmins (6 September 1927 – 11 April 2001) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served in Dáil Éireann from 1968 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1997.

Born in Weaver's Square, Baltinglass, County Wicklow, he was the eldest of four children. His father had been a Sinn Féin representative on the Baltinglass Board of Guardians, one of three Benchmen in the Republican court during the Irish War of Independence, a pro-Treaty Cumann na nGaedheal supporter, and later a Fine Gael Councillor. His mother Kitty (née Godfrey) was a native of Ballyhaunis, County Mayo. He was known by his mother's maiden surname, Godfrey, to distinguish him from his father.

He attended Secondary school at the Patrician College, Tullow and later at Naas Christian Brothers School. After finishing school he worked in the family business and as a farmer and butcher in Baltinglass.

He was a keen Gaelic footballer. In 1946 he was the Baltinglass club delegate to the Wicklow County GAA Board. He served as Chairman of the local club from 1952 to 1970 and club President from 1971 until his death in 2001.

Timmins became active in politics with Fine Gael. In the local elections of 1950 he succeeded in being the only Fine Gael candidate elected to the Wicklow County Council. He was re-elected in each subsequent local election, and was a member of the council for 49 years. He held the position of Chairman on the Council on four occasions (1975, 1978, 1981, 1996).

He was also part of the council's committee on Agriculture, Wicklow VEC, and the Eastern Health Board.

Timmins was first elected to the 18th Dáil as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for the Wicklow constituency at the April 1968 by-election caused by the death of Labour Party TD James Everett. He was re-elected in each subsequent election until the 1987 general election when he lost his seat. Refusing to stand for the Seanad he re-gained his seat in the next general election and remained as a TD until he retired at the 1997 general election. He was succeeded in Dáil Éireann by his son Billy Timmins.

During his time in the Dáil he served as a member of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, the Committee of Selection, and the Committee of Accounts. He was Fine Gael Chief Whip from 1972–73.

He collapsed and died while attending a GAA match in Dunlavin in April 2001. He left an estate worth €3.5m in 2003.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Sylvester A. Barrett

Sylvester A. Barrett (18 May 1926 – 8 May 2002) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He served under Jack Lynch and Charles Haughey as Minister for the Environment (1977–1980) and Minister for Defence (1980–1981).

Sylvester Barrett was born in Darragh, near Ennis, County Clare in 1926. His father, who was a founder-member of the Fianna Fáil party, died while Barrett was still very young. As a result he was raised by an uncle and aunt. Barrett was educated at Ballyea National School and St. Flannan's College in Ennis. He studied engineering at University College Galway though did not complete his studies. He was a cadet in the Irish Army and later worked as a rate collector and an auctioneer.

He was first elected to Dáil Éireann on 14 March 1968 at the Clare by-election in the Clare constituency, following the death of Fine Gael TD William Murphy. Barrett topped the poll at the general election the following year. At the 1973 general election, Fianna Fáil lost power to a Fine Gael–Labour Party coalition government under Liam Cosgrave, and Barrett was appointed to the party's front bench as spokesperson on Transport and Power. After Fianna Fáil's landslide victory at the 1977 general election, he was appointed to the Cabinet as Minister for the Environment.

In 1979, Barrett supported George Colley in the Fianna Fáil leadership election. Charles Haughey was the eventual victor, but Barrett was retained in the cabinet in the Environment position. Following a reshuffle in 1980, he was appointed Minister for Defence. After the February 1982 general election, Fianna Fáil were returned to power but Barrett was not appointed to the Cabinet. However, several weeks later he was appointed a Minister of State at the Department of Finance.

In October 1982, when Charlie McCreevy put down a motion of no confidence in Haughey's leadership, Barrett was the only Minister of State to support it. Haughey survived, and while Barrett was a member of the so-called "Gang of 22" he was not sacked from his office. Indeed the following month he topped the poll at the November 1982 general election.

Fianna Fáil were out of power again and Barrett was appointed to the front bench as spokesperson on Defence. He remained there until 1984 when he won a seat in the Munster constituency at the 1984 European Parliament election and was replaced on the Front Bench by Noel Treacy. He decided not to contest the 1989 European Parliament election and retired from politics. He died in 2002.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - James Gerard "Gerry" Collins

Gerard Collins
James Gerard "Gerry" Collins (born 16 October 1938) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician, who served in a number of Cabinet positions, most notably as Minister for Justice and Minister for Foreign Affairs. After his retirement from domestic politics he served as a Member of the European Parliament.
Collins was born in Abbeyfeale, County Limerick in 1938. The son of James Collins, his father was a former adjutant of the West Limerick Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and took the republican side during the subsequent Civil War. He was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1948 general election as a Fianna Fáil candidate.

Collins was educated locally at St. Ita's College before later attending the Patrician College, Ballyfin. Following the completion of his secondary schooling he attended University College Dublin where he became secretary of the Kevin Barry Cumann of Fianna Fáil. He subsequently worked as a vocational school teacher.

Collins first became involved in politics in 1965 when he was appointed assistant general-secretary of Fianna Fáil. Following the death of his father in 1967, he was elected to Dáil Éireann for Limerick West in the subsequent by-election. He was also co-opted onto Limerick County Council and various other local committees.

Following Fianna Fáil's re-election at the 1969 general election, Collins secured promotion as a Parliamentary Secretary to George Colley, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Gaeltacht. Here he largely had responsibility for the promotion of Gaeltacht affairs and the Irish language.

In the wake of the Arms Crisis in 1970, a major reshuffle of the cabinet took place. Four ministers, Charles Haughey, Neil Blaney, Kevin Boland and Micheál Ó Móráin, were either sacked, resigned or retired from the government due to the scandal that was about to take place. Collins was appointed Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. It was a tough time for Fianna Fáil as the party nearly faced a split due disagreements over its Northern Ireland policy. Collins, in spite of coming from a strong republican background, remained loyal to Taoiseach Jack Lynch in his moderate approach to the Northern Ireland situation.

During his tenure as minister, Collins introduced a controversial law which prohibited organisations committed to violence, such as the IRA, from making media broadcasts. On 19 November 1972, an interview with Seán Mac Stíofáin was broadcast on the RTÉ This Week radio programme. Mac Stíofáin was arrested on the same day and the interview was later used as evidence against him on a trial of IRA membership and on 25 November he was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. Political fallout arising from the interview was considerable and some days later, Collins sacked the entire RTÉ Authority as he felt that they disobeyed the controversial new law.

In 1973, Fianna Fáil were ousted after sixteen years in government as the National Coalition of Fine Gael and the Labour Party came to power. Collins was retained on Jack Lynch's new front bench as spokesperson on Agriculture. After two years in that position he was promoted to spokesperson on Justice in a front bench reshuffle in 1975. In this capacity he was highly critical of the government's management of the Garda Síochána.

In defiance of the opinion polls and political commentators, Fianna Fáil swept to power with a huge 20-seat Dáil majority following the 1977 general election. Collins, at thirty-eight years of age, was one of the youngest members of Jack Lynch's new cabinet and was appointed Minister for Justice. In spite of the sensitive nature of the portfolio, he was viewed as a safe pair of hands. He had a good working relationship with the Garda Síochána, primarily due to his establishment of the Ryan tribunal, which saw all ranks receive hefty pay increases in his first year in office.

In December 1979, Jack Lynch resigned as Taoiseach and as Fianna Fáil leader. The succession resulted in a straight contest between Charles Haughey and George Colley. The latter had the backing of the majority of the existing cabinet, including Collins, however, a backbench revolt saw Haughey become Taoiseach. Collins, much to his disappointment, was retained in his existing position as Minister for Justice, holding office until Fianna Fáil lost power following the 1981 general election.

The Fine Gael-Labour government was short-lived and Fianna Fáil returned to power following the February 1982 general election. Collins was rewarded by being named Minister for Foreign Affairs in Haughey's second cabinet. One of the major incidents of his tenure at Iveagh House was the outbreak of the Falklands War. Although Anglo-Irish relations were at an all-time low Collins opposed the act of aggression by the Argentinian government at United Nations and EEC levels.

The Fianna Fáil government fell in October of that same year and Collins's party were out of power following the November 1982 general election. A period of instability followed within Fianna Fáil as a number of TDs attempted to oust Charles Haughey as party leader. Desmond O'Malley was seen as the clear front-runner to succeed Haughey, however, Collins's name was also mentioned alongside former European Commissioner Michael O'Kennedy. In the end Haughey survived as party leader, after being told at a meeting of the parliamentary party by Collins that Fianna Fáil had lost credibility due to his continued leadership. In spite of this he was subsequently appointed front bench spokesperson on Foreign Affairs on the new front bench.

The results of the 1987 general election saw Fianna Fáil return to power as a minority government. Collins was disappointed to return to his old position as Minister for Justice, preferring instead to take over as Foreign Minister, however, he was once again regarded as a safe pair of hands in a controversial portfolio.

Fianna Fáil retained power following the 1989 general election, albeit with the support of the Progressive Democrats in a coalition government. Collins returned to the cabinet in his preferred position as Minister for Foreign Affairs. January 1990 saw him take over as President of the European Community Council of Ministers during Ireland's six-month tenure. This was largely seen as a very successful presidency for the Irish government and was a personal triumph for Collins.
In 1991 tensions began to surface within Fianna Fáil regarding the continued leadership of Charles Haughey. Minister for Finance Albert Reynolds was the main challenger, however, he had little support from his cabinet colleagues. In an infamous interview on the Six One News Collins made a plea to Reynolds asking him not to challenge Haughey for the leadership of the Fianna Fáil party: "This is going to wreck our party right down the centre and it's going to burst up government". The incident was much parodied, particularly by Dermot Morgan later that year. Reynolds's leadership challenge failed on that occasion and Haughey survived.

In February 1992, Haughey stepped down as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader and Reynolds immediately threw his hat in the ring in the leadership contest. Collins contemplated running in the leadership race after a number of approaches from his colleagues, however, in the end he declined to stand. Reynolds won the subsequent leadership election by a large majority. The formation of his new cabinet caused widespread shock as Collins and seven of his cabinet colleagues were effectively sacked in favour of supporters of the new Taoiseach. This effectively brought Collins's domestic career in politics to an end.

In 1994, he was elected a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Munster constituency. He retired from domestic politics at the 1997 general election, being replaced by his brother, Michael J. Collins. Collins was re-elected to the European Parliament in 1999, but lost his bid for another term at the 2004 European Parliament elections. Subsequent to this defeat, he announced his retirement from politics.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Seán French (Cork City)

Seán French (8 November 1931 – 25 December 2011) was a Fianna Fáil politician from Cork in Ireland. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1967 to 1982.
French was elected to Dáil Éireann on his first attempt, at a by-election in 1967 for the Cork Borough constituency which was caused by the death of the Labour Party TD Seán Casey. He was re-elected at the next five general elections, but lost his seat at the November 1982 general election and did not stand again.
He also stood as a candidate for the European Parliament, at the first direct election in 1979, but was not elected.
Seán French was Lord Mayor of Cork for the term from 1976 to 1977. His father, also called Seán French, also served as a TD and Lord Mayor of Cork.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Patrick (Fad) Browne

Patrick (Fad) Browne (12 September 1906 – 19 February 1991) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and publican. Born in KilmeadenCounty Waterford, he was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Waterford constituency at the 1966 by-election caused by the death of Thaddeus Lynch of Fine Gael. He was re-elected at the 1969 general election but lost his seat at the 1973 general election
In the following Seanad election, he was elected to 13th Seanad on the Industrial and Commercial Panel where served until 1977.
His grandson is the Waterford hurler Tony Browne.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - John O'Leary (Kerry politician)

John O'Leary (born 3 May 1933) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician and who served for more than thirty years as Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry South constituency.

He was born in Dunrine in the Parish of Kilcummin, Killarney in 1933. He was educated at Coolick National School and St. Brendan's College, Killarney. He joined the staff of Kerry County Council in 1952 and worked in Housing, Accounts and Health sections over the next 10 years. 

In July 1962, he was appointed as Acting town clerk, Killarney Urban District Council and later appointed Staff Officer in the Health and Hospitals section of Kerry County Council. When the new Planning department of the Council was launched O'Leary was put in charge of this until his resignation and election to Dáil Éireann in 1966.

O'Leary was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the December 1966 by-election to succeed Honor Crowley. Honor Crowley had previously succeeded her husband, Frederick Crowley in 1945. He was re-elected at the 1969 general election and was subsequently appointed to the Dáil Select Committee on Procedures and Privileges from 1969–1973. He also represented the government at the 1st World Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972. He was one of five TDs to attend the funerals of the victims of Bloody Sunday inDerry in 1972.
He was re-elected at the head of the poll at the 1973 general election. He was appointed to membership of the Council of Europe from 1973–1975 on the nomination of the Fianna Fáil Leader Jack Lynch and from 1975–1977 he served as Opposition spokesperson on Physical Planning and the Environment.
He was elected as a member of Kerry County Council in 1974, gaining the 3rd seat for Fianna Fáil in the Killarney area. Again he represented Fianna Fáil at the 2nd World Conference on the Environment held in Kingston, Jamaica in 1976.
He was re-elected at the head of the poll at the 1977 general election. In December 1977 he was appointed Minister of State at the Department of the Environment with special responsibility for Planning, Roads, Water Safety, Housing, Traffic, Water and Sewerage Schemes. He resigned as a member of Kerry County Council in January 1978 and was replaced by P.J. Cronin. He was not reappointed as Minister following the election of Charles Haughey as Taoiseach in December 1979.
He was re-elected at the 1981, February 1982 and November 1982 general elections. He was appointed by Charles Haughey as a member of the New Ireland Forum in 1983 and again in 1984. He stood again for the Kerry County Council elections in 1985 and won a fourth seat for the party in the Killarney area.
At the 1987 general election, he was again elected at the head of the poll before the third Fianna Fáil candidate was eliminated, leaving a pool of over 10,000 votes for John O'Donoghue to gain a second seat for the party. He was subsequently appointed to a number of Joint Oireachtas Committees. He was re-elected at the 1989 general election.
He was re-elected to Kerry County Council at the 1991 local elections. He was re-elected at the 1992 general election and selected as Vice-Chairman of the All-party Foreign Affairs Joint Oireachtas Committee and to the All-party Finance Committee.
He retired as a member of Kerry County Council in March 1996 and as a Member of Dáil Éireann at the 1997 general election. Fianna Fáil selected his son Brian O'Leary to contest the seat. However, it was won by Jackie Healy-Rae who ran as an independent candidate when he was not selected by Fianna Fáil.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - James Kennedy

James J. Kennedy (10 March 1909 – 13 September 1968) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and farmer. He was a member of Dáil Éireann for one term, from his election as aTeachta Dála (TD) for the Wexford constituency at the 1965 general election until his death in 1968. There was no subsequent by-election as the 1969 general election took place the following June.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - William "Billy" Kenneally

William "Billy" Kenneally (12 October 1925 − 26 August 2009) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He first stood for election at the 1961 general election but was unsuccessful. 
He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Waterford constituency at the 1965 general election. He was re-elected at each subsequent election until he lost his seat at the February 1982 general election. He was elected to the 16th Seanad in 1982 on the Administrative Panel. He did not contest the 1983 Seanad election.
He died in Waterford Regional Hospital on 26 August 2009.
His father William Kenneally also served as a TD for Waterford from 1952 to 1961 and his son Brendan Kenneally is a former TD for Waterford.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Members of the Fourth Dáil - Patrick Hogan (Ceann Comhairle)

Patrick Hogan (1886 – 24 January 1969) was a long-serving Irish politician. He served as Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann from 1951 to 1967.

Hogan's birth date is uncertain. When he entered the King's Inns in 1932, he gave the date as 8 October 1891, but other sources give 1886. He was the only son of Patrick Hogan and Bridget O'Connor of Culleen, Kilmaley, County Clare. In the 1901 Census, his age is given as 16 and his occupation as house to house postman.

As a young man he joined the Gaelic League and the Irish Volunteers, however he was deported to England for his activities. During the Irish War of Independence he fought against the Black and Tans in County Clare. After the Anglo-Irish Treaty he became an official with the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU). He was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Labour Party Teachta Dála (TD) for the Clare constituency in 1923. He lost his seat at the 1938 general election, and was subsequently elected to Seanad Éireann on the Labour Panel. While sitting in the Dáil, he qualified as a barrister-at-law and was called to the bar in 1936. He remained in the Seanad until 1943 when he returned to the Dáil at the 1943 general election. In 1951 he became Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, a position he held until 1967. He welcomed United States President John F. Kennedy to the house on 28 June 1963 during his visit to Ireland.

Members of the Fourth Dáil - Patrick K. Hogan

Patrick K. Hogan was an Irish Farmers' Party politician and farmer. At the 1923 general election he was elected as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Limerick constituency, one of fifteen Farmers' Party TDs elected that year. He did not stand at the June 1927 general election.

Members of the Seventeenth Dáil - Patrick Hogan (Tipperary South)

Patrick Hogan (25 March 1907 – 5 October 1972) was an Irish Fine Gael politician and surgeon. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for theTipperary South constituency at the 1961 general election. He was re-elected at the 1965 and 1969 general elections. He did not stand at the 1973 general election.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Jackie Fahey

John "Jackie" Fahey (born 23 January 1928) is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for the for over twenty five years.

Fahey was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary in 1928. He was educated locally at the Christian Brothers School. Following his education he worked as a farmer, an auctioneer and an insurance broker. Fahey first entered politics in 1950 when he was elected to Waterford County Council. He held his seat on that authority until 1970, and later from 1974 to 1999.

He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Tipperary South constituency at the 1965 general election. It was his second attempt to get elected, having earlier contested the 1961 general election. From the 1977 general election onwards, he was elected for the Waterford constituency.

Like many other TDs, Fahey began to grow disillusioned with the leadership of Jack Lynch by the late 1970s. He and others were particularly concerned that George Colley would succeed Lynch as leader of Fianna Fáil and Taoiseach. Fahey was instrumental in forming the so-called "gang of five" with Albert Reynolds, Mark Killilea, Tom McEllistrim and Seán Doherty. This group began to lobby the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party on behalf of Charles Haughey, who they regarded as a better choice for leader than Colley.

Haughey was the eventual winner of the leadership contest and rewarded Fahey by appointing him Minister of State at the Department of Environment, a post he held from 1979 to 1981. He was not re-appointed in any future Haughey government but remained a Haughey loyalist. Fahey contested the 1989 European Parliament election for the Munsterconstituency but was not elected. He was annoyed at his running mate in the constituency and subsequently voted against the proposed Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats coalition and lost the party whip accordingly. He re-applied for membership of the party in 1990 and was re-admitted.

He lost his seat at the 1992 general election. Fahey served out his council term on Waterford City Council and retired from politics in 1999.

Members of the Eighteenth Dáil - Don Davern

Donal (Owen Don Bosco) Davern (4 March 1935 – 2 November 1968) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician.

He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Tipperary South constituency at the 1965 general election succeeding his father, Michael Davern. In November 1966, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. He died suddenly before completing his first term in Dáil Éireann. His brother Noel Davern was elected at the subsequent general election.