Séanna Breathnach

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Séanna Breathnach
Séanna Breathnach speaking at a Sinn Féin commemoration for IRA Volunteer Charlie McGlade in Drimnagh, Dublin.
Short Strand, East Belfast, Northern Ireland
AllegianceProvisional Irish Republican Army
Years of service1971- Still a member
ConflictThe Troubles[1]

Séanna Breathnach (English: Séanna Walsh; born 1957) is an Irish republican and a former volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Early life[edit]

Breathnach was born in the Short Strand area of East Belfast but for a time lived in Ravenhill Avenue until loyalists intimidated the Walsh family out of their home. Séanna’s great grandfather had been shot dead in the same area by B-Specials when Northern Ireland was founded.[2]

IRA activity and imprisonment[edit]

In 1973, he was arrested along with a number of fellow IRA men while robbing a bank and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. In Long Kesh prison, where he was entitled to Special Category Status as an IRA prisoner, he met and befriended Bobby Sands.[2]

Séanna was released from prison in May 1976. Three months later he was arrested and charged with possession of a rifle and was sentenced to ten years. By the time he arrived back in the H-Blocks, the British government had withdrawn Special Category status and IRA members had commenced the blanket protest. Walsh refused to wear a prison uniform and went on to become one of the leaders of the blanket protest.[2]

When the hunger strike ended in late 1981, Walsh became the Officer Commanding (OC) of the IRA prisoners in the H-Blocks. He was released after seven years and seven months. Upon his release, he married Sinéad Moore, a former republican prisoner, and had two daughters, the youngest of whom was only two weeks old when he was arrested again.[2]

He was caught making explosives and mortar bombs and was sentenced to twenty-two years. While on remand in Crumlin Road Gaol he again became OC of the IRA prisoners.[2]


At the age of forty-two he had spent over half his life, a total of twenty-one years, in jail. He was released under the provisions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.[3]

In July 2005, he appeared on a DVD reading out a statement from the IRA Army Council announcing the end to its armed campaign.[4] In doing so, Breathnach became the first IRA member since 1972 to represent the organisation without wearing a mask.[5]

Political career[edit]

He now works for Sinn Féin.[2]


  1. ^ the most important campaigns ever fought by the British Army and its fellow Services[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f Danny Morrison (16 August 2004). "An Issue of Trust". Andersonstown News. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  3. ^ "Interview with Seanna Walsh, ex prisoner of IRA". FARC-EP International. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  4. ^ Angelique Chrisafis (29 July 2005). "After 35 years of bombs and blood a quiet voice ends the IRA's war". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-03-18.
  5. ^ Kevin Cullen (31 July 2005). "Among IRA veterans, quiet acceptance of peace declaration". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-10-24.