Eamonn McCann (centre), on a march against austerity in Belfast, October 2012
|Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
|Preceded by||Gerard Diver|
10 March 1943 |
Derry, Northern Ireland
|Political party||People Before Profit Alliance|
|Alma mater||Queen's University Belfast|
Eamonn McCann (born 10 March 1943) is an Irish politician, journalist and political activist from Derry, Northern Ireland. In the 2016 Northern Ireland Assembly election, he was elected as an MLA for the Foyle constituency.
Early life and education
McCann was born and has lived most of his life in Derry. Raised Catholic, he attended St. Columb's College and is prominently featured in the documentary film, The Boys of St. Columb's. He later attended Queen's University Belfast, where he was president of the Literary and Scientific Society, the university's debating society.
As a young man he was one of the original organisers of the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC), a radical campaign group focusing on access to social housing. DHAC organised, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), the second civil rights march in Northern Ireland. This march, which took place on 5 October 1968, is generally seen as the birth date of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement. His political contemporaries included Bernadette Devlin, for whom he served as an election agent. He stood for election in the Foyle constituency at the 1969 Northern Ireland general election for the Northern Ireland Labour Party, placing third with 1,993 votes (12.3% of the total).
He was tried (as one of the so-called Raytheon 9) in Belfast in May–June 2008 over alleged damage caused during the 2006 War on Lebanon to a facility operated by multinational arms company Raytheon in Derry. The jury unanimously acquitted McCann, and all the other defendants, of charges of criminal damage to property belonging to Raytheon. The jury had heard that the groups's actions were prompted by repeated bombing of Lebanese property in which numerous civilians died and the wish to protect those lives and that property from being attacked by Israeli forces with weapons, weaponry systems and missiles supplied by Raytheon. The judge dismissed charges of affray after hearing the prosecution evidence. However, McCann was convicted of the theft of two computer discs, for which he received a 12-month conditional discharge.
When Raytheon staff returned to the offices they alleged that some of their desks had been urinated on and also had human excrement smeared on them. In a statement outside the court McCann said: "[We] have been vindicated. ... The jury have accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that ... Israeli ... Forces were guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. The action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes".
His appearance at the funeral of former PIRA volunteer, Old Bailey bomber, and republican activist Dolours Price, and a tribute he paid to her, was criticised by a son-in-law of Jean McConville, who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by the PIRA. Price was suspected of being one of the paramilitaries who took part. McCann explained that her family had asked him to speak at her funeral. He said: "I don't think I said anything at Dolours Price's grave that contradicted that [calling McConville's murder 'a horrible and unforgivable act'] ... The point I had in mind, the point I was making, was there are some people deeply implicated in the cruel murder of Mrs McConville who appear not to be undergoing any inner turmoil. They appear to find it very easy to handle the knowledge of their own involvement in that murder".
Writings and media work
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McCann currently writes for the Belfast Telegraph, The Irish Times and the Derry Journal. He has written a column for the Dublin-based magazine, Hot Press, and is a frequent commentator on the BBC, RTÉ and other broadcast media. He worked as a journalist for the Sunday World newspaper and contributed to the original In Dublin magazine, among others.
Much of his journalistic work reflects what he himself describes as a "shuddering fascination" with religion which, when coupled with his profound skepticism, has made it a topic to which he has often returned.
In March 2014, following Crimea's referendum on joining Russia, McCann had a piece published in The Irish Times on the situation there. He commented: "After six years in office, Obama believes he has a right to invade anywhere, bomb anything, kill anybody whose jib the CIA doesn't like the cut of, irrespective of national or international law or, indeed, of the provisions of the US constitution. And now he lectures Putin on the necessity of 'respecting international law'. He has a nerve." McCann referred to "a cable summarising a discussion in Paris in September 2009 involving Philip Gordon, assistant US secretary of state for EU and Eurasian affairs and a group of French diplomats, including Jean-David Levitte, French ambassador to the US from 2002 to 2007."
McCann noted: "Under “Nato's Enlargement and Strategic Concept”, Levitte declared president Nicolas Sarkozy's position was that Ukraine's destiny lay within Nato but that it would be unwise to push the case just then for fear of antagonising Russia – and because a majority of the Ukrainian people appeared to be against the idea." He added: "It has virtually been ignored in the Western media that the EU offer of economic assistance to Ukraine last December included a condition that Kiev align its forces with Nato – a halfway-house staging post on the road to full Nato membership. It was this provision that deeply alarmed the Putin regime, which in turn sparked angry demonstrations in Kiev against the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovich and its US-assisted replacement by a mixum-gatherum of groups, including anti-Semitic neo-fascists."
In the same piece he wrote: "Vladimir Putin may run a vicious regime but the people of Crimea have a right to be accepted as Russian if that's what they want, which evidently they do", and added: "Putin is right that the main motivation of the US and Nato has been to encircle and enfeeble his country. It might be a close run thing, but in this instance Russia has more right on its side than the West".
- List of works
- War and an Irish Town (1973)
- War and Peace in Northern Ireland
- Dear God – The Price of Religion in Ireland
He has also edited two books on Bloody Sunday:
- Bloody Sunday: What Really Happened (1992)
- The Bloody Sunday Inquiry: The Families Speak Out (2005).
McCann was the partner of Mary Holland (1935–2004), a journalist who worked for The Observer and The Irish Times. He has a daughter from that relationship, Kitty, who is now a journalist for The Irish Times, and a son, Luke, who is also a journalist working for ¡Hola! magazine in Spain. The academic and activist Goretti Horgan has been his partner since the mid-1980s and they have an adult daughter, Matty.
- "Workers' Liberty". Alliance for Workers' Liberty. Retrieved 2 January 2016. (NOTE: mentions McCann's involvement with the Derry branch of the Labour Party and features an account of McCann's writings.)
- "Mr Eamonn McCann". Northern Ireland Assembly. Northern Ireland Assembly. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Northern Ireland Parliamentary Election Results: Boroughs: Londonderry".
- "Raytheon 6 cleared". Derry Journal. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "Price offers to help locate 'disappeared'". The Irish Times. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- "Arrest Adams Now". Sunday Life. 21 February 2010.
- "Boston College IRA interviews update". WBUR-FM. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "McConville relative raps socialist for Dolours Price tribute". The News Letter. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- "Foyle - Northern Ireland Assembly constituency - Election 2016". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- "16 June 2010". The Media Show. 16 June 2010. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
- "Eamonn McCann". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- "Eamonn McCann". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- "Hot Press columnist Eamonn McCann elected to Stormont". Hot Press. 7 May 2016.
- Dear God: The Price of Religion in Ireland (Paperback) by Eamonn McCann, Bookmarks (10 November 1999); ISBN 1-898876-58-4; ISBN 978-1-898876-58-8
- "Archives". Hot Press. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- Tweksbury, Drew (17 March 2008). "N. Ireland and the U.S.: A Shared Civil Rights Struggle". National Public Radio. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
- "If we have to pick a side over Crimea, let it be Russia". The Irish Times. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
- McHardy, Anne (9 June 2004). "Obituary: Mary Holland". The Guardian.
- "Mary Holland obituary". The Independent. 9 June 2004.
- "Biography". Eamonn McCann. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- Mahon, Eddie (1998), Derry City, Guildhall Press, p. 83.
- "Bloody Sunday (film details)". IMDb. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
|Northern Ireland Assembly|
|MLA for Foyle