Irish Republican News · June 5, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Former Sinn Féin president Ruairí Ó Brádaigh dies

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Former Sinn Féin president Ruairí Ó Brádaigh has died in hospital in Roscommon this afternoon, aged 80.

Mr Ó Brádaigh served as the president of (Provisional) Sinn Féin until 1983, when he was ousted from the position by his successor, Gerry Adams.

In 1986, a split within Sinn Féin saw Mr Ó Brádaigh leading one faction which became known as Republican Sinn Féin.

Long characterised by the British as a stubborn idealogue, Mr Ó Brádaigh will be remembered by republicans as a visionary leader, whose ‘Eire Nua’ proposal for a federal republic of four Irish provinces offered a credible path to a lasting peace on the island.

Mr Ó Brádaigh was originally from County Longford, where he qualified as a teacher.

He became a TD (member of the Irish parliament) in the 1950s and was elected for Sinn Féin on an abstentionist ticket.

In 1973, he was sentenced to six months in prison for membership of the Provisional IRA.

In 1983, Gerry Adams succeeded him as president of Sinn Féin. In 1986, Mr Ó Brádaigh famously led a group of mainly southern-based delegates to walk out of a party conference.

His group left because they disagreed with the direction in which he believed the northern-based leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were taking the party and actions which they viewed as in violation of the party’s constitution.

The roots of the fallout were over a decision to enter the 26-County parliament in Dublin. This ended the party’s policy of abstention from the Dail, and, they argued, violated the mandate of the First (all-Ireland) Dail and helped to legitimise the partition of the country.

The Continuity IRA grew out of the same split among republicans.

With failing health, he resigned as President of (Republican) Sinn Féin in 2009 in favour of Des Dalton. The organisation has subsequently suffered from internal disputes and the emergence of rival factions.

Commenting on news of the death, (Provisional) Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD said:

“It is with sadness that I have heard the news of the death of Ruairí O Bradaigh.

“On behalf of Sinn Féin, I want to extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

“Whatever differences we may have shared on political matters Ruairí was a life-long activist who was committed to his principles.

“Go ndeanfaidh Dia trocaire ar a n’anam dilis.”

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