Jimmy Steele (republican)

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Jimmy Steele (8 August 1907 – 9 August 1970) was an Irish republican and Irish Republican Army (IRA) member born in Belfast, Ireland.

Steele joined Fianna Éireann in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence and later went on to join the IRA. He was arrested in 1923 and again in 1924 and imprisoned in Crumlin Road Gaol. After his release in 1925, Steele helped in the re-organisation of the IRA's Belfast Brigade.

In 1935 Steele led an IRA raid on a RUC base within the grounds of Campbell College, a school in the east of the city. The raid was unsuccessful due to a tip-off, but Steele managed to escape. The following year he was arrested for the raid along with several other IRA members and again sent to Crumlin Road Gaol. In 1943 Steele, along with Patrick Donnelly, Ned Maguire and Hugh McAteer escaped from the Gaol. Shortly afterwards he was appointed adjutant of the Northern Command.[1] While on the run he helped 21 prisoners escape from jail on 20 March 1943, this was known as The Big Derry Jail Escape.

Steele spent a further ten years in prison after arrests in late 1943 and 1967. He wrote for a number of republican publications, including Glor Uladh, Resurgent Ulster and An Phoblacht. In the 1950 United Kingdom general election Steele stood for Sinn Féin in the West Belfast constituency.

Steele was founder of the Belfast Republican Press Centre in 1970. He was the first editor of Republican News, which started as a monthly and later became a weekly.

He died on 9 August 1970 the year after the IRA split, in which he sided with the Provisionals. He was one of the leaders of the 1969 split, being critical of the leadership of the time.[2]


  1. ^ Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA
  2. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Patrick Ryan (2001) 'The Birth of the Provisionals - A Clash between Politics and Tradition'". cain.ulst.ac.uk.
Military offices
Preceded by
Charlie McGlade
Officer Commanding the Belfast Battalion of the Irish Republican Army
Succeeded by
Liam Rice
Preceded by
Rory Maguire
Officer Commanding the Belfast Battalion of the Irish Republican Army
Succeeded by
Seamus Burns
Preceded by
Frank McKearney
Officer Commanding the Belfast Battalion of the Irish Republican Army
1950 – 1956
Succeeded by
Paddy Doyle
Media offices
Preceded by
New position
Editor of Republican News
Succeeded by
Proinsias MacAirt