Gerry McGeough

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Gerry McGeough (born 1958,[1] near Dungannon, County Tyrone) is a prominent Irish republican who was a volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), a former Sinn Féin activist and editor of the defunct The Hibernian magazine. McGeough broke with Sinn Féin in 2001 and he is now an independent republican activist. McGeough was set to serve 20 years imprisonment after being found guilty in 2011 for attempted murder, although he was released two years later, on 29 January 2013, under the Good Friday Agreement terms.

Early life[edit]

McGeough joined the Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade in 1975, aged 16. According to Tim Pat Coogan, Gerry McGeough was beaten by RUC interrogators at Cookstown barracks, Co. Tyrone in 1977, and was deported from Britain following a brief visit to London in 1978. McGeough had been arrested and interrogated for a full week before deportation, on suspicion that he was an Irish Republican sympathizer.[2] After activity in Ireland and Europe, he was arrested (along with another IRA member, Gerry Hanratty) in August 1988 while crossing the Dutch-German border with two AK47 rifles in his car. He was charged with attacks on the British Army of the Rhine and held for four years in a specially-built German detention centre. His trial in Germany was interrupted by extradition to the United States, where he was charged with attempting to buy surface-to-air-missiles in 1983. He served three years of his sentence in US prisons until his release in 1996 whereupon he was deported to the Republic of Ireland.[3][4]

McGeough led Sinn Féin's opposition to the referendum on the Nice Treaty in the Republic of Ireland.[5] He was also a Sinn Féin national executive (ard-comhairle) member before becoming disgusted with what he perceives as the socially "liberal" views of "nouveau Sinn Féin".[6]

Catholic activist[edit]

McGeough is known for his strong Catholic views:

"You would never get a leader of Sinn Féin condemning abortion, homosexual "marriage" or anything of that nature. I, as an Irish nationalist and Roman Catholic, never want to see the day when there are abortion clinics in every market town in Ireland. But looking around there is no political grouping willing to take a stance against that".[7]

He accompanied Justin Barrett on a lecture tour of Irish towns in March 2004, in support of the latters' unsuccessful attempt to become a member of the European Parliament.[8]

In May 2006, McGeough, as editor, and Charles Byrne, a 28-year-old from Drogheda, launched a monthly magazine called The Hibernian, dedicated to “Faith, Family and Country”. The magazine had articles espousing the views of Father Denis Fahey and also promoted the Society of St. Pius X.[8] McGeough is associated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians.[8]

In 2007, McGeough declared he would be standing for election in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections against Sinn Féin in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency. He put himself forward as a protest against Sinn Féin's vote in January 2007 to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), a key provision of the St Andrews Agreement.[9] He polled 1.8% of the vote.[10]

The Hibernian ceased publication in 2008.[11]

Arrest and conviction[edit]

On 8 March 2007 McGeough was arrested by the PSNI whilst leaving the election count centre in Omagh. The arrest was in connection with the 1981 shooting of Sammy Brush. Brush, who is now a councillor for the Democratic Unionist Party in Ballygawley, was delivering mail in his job as a postman near Aughnacloy when he was shot. He was an also an off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment. Brush, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest,[12] managed to return fire in the incident and shot his assailent who fled.[13][14] McGeough and Vincent McAnespie were charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. Both men were remanded in custody to appear at Dungannon Magistrates' Court on 4 April 2007.[15][16] McGeough was granted bail on 29 March.[17] Gerry McGeough's lawyers have published a document they claim is proof that a Royal Pardon was given to another alleged IRA member, and questioned why McGeough was not treated similarly. The Northern Ireland Office has stated that it is instead Prerogative of Mercy that was applied to a small number of cases under the Early Release Scheme to resolve technical anomalies.[18]

McGeogh was convicted in February 2011 of attempted murder, possessing firearms with intent, and IRA membership. He was sentenced in April 2011 to 20 years imprisonment,[19] although under the Good Friday Agreement he served no more than two years in jail, and was finally released on 29 January 2013.[20]

McAnespie was acquitted of all charges against him.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gerry McGeough (15 February 2007). "Gerry McGeough - Biography". HibernianMedia.com. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  2. ^ Coogan, Tim Pat (2000). The IRA (Fully Revised and Updated). London: Harper/Collins Publishers. p. 740. ISBN 0006531555. 
  3. ^ "Behind the Mask: The Ira and Sinn Féin". Frontline. 11 October 1997. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  4. ^ "Former IRA prisoner to contest Fermanagh-South Tyrone seat". UTV. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  5. ^ 'Nice to be Back on the Winning Side', A. Shaw, Red Action Bulletin, Volume 4, Issue 12, July/Aug 2001.
  6. ^ Henry McDonald (28 December 2003). "Isn't it time that the double-speak stopped?". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  7. ^ Henry McDonald (28 December 2003). "IRA bomber attacks Sinn Féin on abortion". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  8. ^ a b c Ex-Provo gives new life to Irish clerical fascism, Scott Millar, Searchlight Magazine, August 2006
  9. ^ Henry McDonald (7 January 2007). "Gunrunner in poll threat to Sinn Féin". The Observer. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  10. ^ "Fermanagh and South Tyrone election result 2007". 
  11. ^ Magazine run by murder-bid defendant folds, Diana Rusk, The Irish News, 11 October 2008, retrieved 10 April 2009
  12. ^ a b Gerry McGeough guilty of 1981 Samuel Brush murder bid
  13. ^ "Republican candidate is arrested". BBC. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  14. ^ Assembly candidate arrested over 1981 murder attempt Belfast Telegraph 08 March 2007. Accessed 11 March 2007
  15. ^ "Pair face 1981 murder bid charge". BBC. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  16. ^ Arrest of pair on polling day was an abuse of the electoral process, counsel tells hearing Belfast Telegraph Accessed 16 March 2007
  17. ^ "Bail given to arrested candidate". BBC. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  18. ^ Queen pardoned IRA fugitive
  19. ^ McGeough: 20 years for attempted murder of UDR soldier
  20. ^ McGeough released from prison by Michael McGlade. The News Letter, 2 February 2013

External links[edit]