Eamonn McCann

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Eamonn McCann (centre), Anti-Austerity March, Belfast, October 2012
from the BBC programme The Media Show, 16 June 2010[1]

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Eamonn McCann (born 1943 in Derry, Northern Ireland) is an Irish journalist, author and political activist.


McCann was born and has lived most of his life in Derry. He was educated at St. Columb's College in the city.[2] He is prominently featured in the documentary film The Boys of St. Columb's.[3] He later attended Queen's University Belfast, where he was president of the Literary and Scientific Society (Queen's University Belfast), the university's debating society.

He was involved with the Irish Workers Group, a Trotskyist organisation, for a time in the 1960s.[4]

As a young man he was one of the original organisers with Derry Housing Action Committee, a radical campaign group focusing on access to social housing. DHAC organised, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) the 2nd civil rights march in Northern Ireland. This march, which took place on 5 October 1968, is generally seen as the birth date of the civil rights movement in the north of Ireland. McCann would go on to become one of the most prominent civil rights activists. His political contemporaries included Bernadette Devlin, for whom he served as an election agent. McCann has always been critical of other politicians in Derry, and throughout Ireland North and South, whose politics were based on cultural-identity rather than class analysis.[5] He personally witnessed and participated in many of the key events of the early part of the Troubles, including the Battle of the Bogside in August 1969 and Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

Later, he worked as a journalist for the Sunday World newspaper and contributed to the original In Dublin magazine, among others. He currently writes for the Belfast Telegraph and the Derry Journal, and has for many years written a column for the Dublin-based Hot Press magazine.[6] He is a frequent commentator on the BBC, RTÉ and other broadcast media.

A Trotskyist and outspoken atheist, he is a prominent member of the Socialist Workers Party in Ireland, and in recent Northern Ireland elections has stood as a candidate for the Socialist Environmental Alliance.[7] Previously he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour Party candidate in the 1970s. He is also Chair of his local branch of the National Union of Journalists, and Vice-Chair of Derry Trades Council.

As a political activist, he has lent his support and considerable oratorical skills to many causes, including campaigns in support of abortion rights, immigrants and gay marriage. Much of his journalistic work reflects what he himself describes[8] as a "shuddering fascination" with religion which, when coupled with his profound scepticism, has made it a topic to which he has often returned.[9]

In March 2008, McCann spoke with National Public Radio in the U.S. about the solidarity between the Catholic civil rights movement in Northern Ireland and the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.[10]

McCann was tried in Belfast in May–June 2008 for his actions as one of the Raytheon 9, a group who attacked and damaged the Raytheon factory in Derry. The jury unanimously acquitted McCann, and all the other defendants, of charges of criminal damage to property belonging to multinational arms company, Raytheon. The judge dismissed charges of affray after hearing the prosecution evidence. However, McCann was found guilty of the theft of two computer discs. For this he received a 12-month conditional discharge.[11]

In a statement outside the court McCann said:

McCann now writes a column for the Sunday edition of the Derry Journal.[13] He is also a supporter of Derry City FC[14]

His appearance at the funeral of former IRA member, Old Bailey bomber, and republican activist Dolours Price and a tribute to her, was criticised by a son in law of Jean McConville's. McCann had described Price as being "soft hearted", leading Seamus McKendry to accuse McCann of having "lost the plot" despite previously being an admirer of his.[15]

In March 2014, he claimed that "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,"[16] 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".[16]

In the television film, Bloody Sunday (2002), McCann is played by the Irish actor Gerard Crossan.[17]


McCann was the partner of Mary Holland, 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.[18] Fellow Irish SWP member and academic Goretti Horgan has been his partner since the mid-1980s and they have an adult daughter, Matty.


  • 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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "16/06/2010". The Media Show. 16 June 2010. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  2. ^ Seamus Heaney Culture Northern Ireland Website (retrieved 2008-11-16)
  3. ^ http://www.iftn.ie/news/?act1=record&aid=73&rid=4282079&tpl=archnews&only=1
  4. ^ http://www.workersliberty.org/node/9322
  5. ^ "'Not quite Philadelphia, is it?': an interview with Eamonn McCann" in Fall-Winter 2001 issue of Eire-Ireland: Journal of Irish Studies, 14 Nov. 2008.
  6. ^ McCann Column in Hot Press.
  7. ^ Socialist Environmental Alliance Website.
  8. ^ Dear God: The Price of Religion in Ireland (Paperback) by Eamonn McCann, Paperback: 256 pages Publisher: Bookmarks (10 November 1999), ISBN 1-898876-58-4, ISBN 978-1-898876-58-8
  9. ^ Hot Press Eamonn McCann Column, Belfast Telegraph
  10. ^ "Solidarity in the Sixties", National Public Radio, News and Notes – Interview by Drew Tewksbury
  11. ^ "Raytheon 6 cleared", Derry Journal, 11 June 2008 (accessed 2008-06-12)
  12. ^ "Raytheon 6 cleared", Derry Journal, 11 June 2008 (accessed 2008-06-12)
  13. ^ McCann's Sunday Journal column
  14. ^ Mahon, Eddie (1998), Derry City, Guildhall Press, p. 83.
  15. ^ "McConville relative raps socialist for Dolours Price tribute" The Newsletter 30 January 2013 Retrieved 3 February 2013
  16. ^ a b http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/if-we-have-to-pick-a-side-over-crimea-let-it-be-russia-1.1731105
  17. ^ IMDB entry for Bloody Sunday.
  18. ^ Mary Holland Obituary in the Guardian, 9 June 2004; Mary Holland Obituary in the Independent, 10 June 2004.

External links[edit]