Seán Mac Stíofáin - A Tribute
1928 - 2001
Seán Mac Stíofáin was a giant of a man in the Republican Movement. He is one of those who got a grip on the revolutionary situation which opened up in the six counties in August 1969 and brought the IRA to a culminating point in June/July 1972. At that time he led a delegation to London demanding British government withdrawal from Ireland for the first time since 1921.
He certainly was the "man for the job" as Chief of Staff of the IRA during those years. The three demands presented to British ministers by his delegation in 1972 left no doubt as to what the IRA was fighting for: (1) The future of Ireland to be decided by the people of Ireland acting as a unit; (2) a British government Declaration of Intent to withdraw from Ireland by January 1975 and (3) the unconditional release of all political prisoners.
In the negotiations for the Bilateral Truce between the British government and the IRA which preceded the talks, the granting of Special Category or political status to Republican prisoners - a number of them led by Billy McKee were on hunger strike for this - was a precondition which was acceded to.
The withdrawal of this status in 1976 had a huge reaction - the blanket and no wash strikes and ultimately the hunger strike of 1981 with ten deaths.
Seán Mac Stíofáin believed deeply in the Éire Nua proposals for a new federal Ireland of the four provinces including a nine-county Ulster and promoted it by every means at his disposal.
He was a fluent Irish speakers and an Irish language activist. He learned from the Cypriot EOKA prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs Prison in London, not only a smattering of Greek but also the realities of an anti-British rule guerrilla campaign.
He will be remembered as an outstanding IRA leader during a crucial period in Irish history.
Sincere sympathy is expressed to his wife Máire, to his daughters and all his relatives and friends.
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