‘A curse on those who let him die’

Aodan Ferguson with an address he gave at Milltown Cemetery on the 11th of May. It was delivered on behalf of the Sean MacDairmada Society Belfast on the 67th anniversary of Oglach Sean McCaughey ... Volunteer Sean McCaughey

As most here today will know Sean McCaughey was born in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, and moved to Ardoyne, Belfast, at 5 years of age. As a youth he was active in the GAA, an enthusiastic speaker of Irish and a member of Na Fianna Eireann and later, the IRA. McCaughey’s rise through the ranks was quite remarkable and testament to the regard he was held in within the Republican Movement. In 1941 he was captured and imprisoned by the Gardaí. By that time he was adjutant general of the army. The Free State authorities charged him with the attempted execution of Stephen Hayes, an IRA informer.

He arrived in Portlaoise Gaol in September 1941. The measure of McCaughey’s character was to become clear when his prison record is examined. He displayed his unwavering commitment to his republican beliefs throughout his time in gaol. During this period the Free State prison authorities had been insisting on serving prisoners wearing criminal uniforms. McCaughey, immediately refused outright to be criminalised when Free State authorities instructed him to wear a prison garb. This led to a substantial period where McCaughey was clad in nothing but a blanket. He endured horrific conditions during this period where he was held in solitary confinement and refused any visits whatsoever for nearly 5 years. As no resolution was forthcoming from the state authorities McCaughey commenced a hunger strike to secure his freedom. In the most horrific circumstances he intensified his hunger strike and would refuse not just food but also water, undoubtedly speeding up his own demise. McCaughey passed away on the 11th of May 1946. The Free State government of this time tragically ignored him.

It should be remembered that the Free State administration directly culpable for his death was Fianna Fáil. This is the same political machine that now wishes to extend its political base to the six counties, only 87 years after the implementation of partition.

As has been widely predicted the closer we will see towards 2016, Fianna Fail like other constitutional nationalist parties will attempt to claim the legacy of the 1916 revolutionaries; these are the same people who ignored 1916 when it didn’t suit.

There hypocritical approach and opportunism will not fool anyone. Most outrageously it must be also remembered that it was another Free State government in the 1970s who actually arrested some veterans of 1916 and the tan war for their participation in Easter commemorations in Dublin.

Jumping on the republican bandwagon at important times such as 2016 to score political capital is a blatant opportunistic attempt to gather votes. The republican people from across Ireland will not be fooled however. Fianna Fail's false posturing as Irish republicans will not cut it.

The only truly fitting way to commemorate the republican dead is work for the realisation of republican aspirations now, namely the establishment of a socialist republic on a 32 county basis. 

In Ireland today the integrity of our nation is consistently undermined by a media backed and government funded normalisation offensive. The appointment of Derry as the UK’s city of culture underlines this. In addition, the holding of the G8 in picturesque rural Fermanagh is another flank of the attack on Ireland’s right to nationhood.

The stark reality is the top table of western capitalism and the representatives of the super rich internationally will wine and dine in British occupied Ireland without a single thought for the continued illegal subvention of Irish democracy that comes with partition. This summit should be opposed by all republicans. The obvious flouting of our nations sovereignty in such tactical fashion outlines the scale of work republicans need to apply themselves too. McCaugheys prison struggle echoes today in Maghaberry where forced strip searching and beatings of prisoners are a reality of Britain’s continued criminalisation policy. The personal integrity he personally upheld remains an inspiration to contemporary republicans.

The prison struggle continues. Men on Roe 3 and Roe 4 continue to fight their own criminalisation and we extend our solidarity greetings to them today. The prison issue is accompanied by the state internment of steadfast republicans such as Stephen Murney, Martin Corey and Marian Price. All is not rosy in the manufactured statelet however. Behind Stormont backed PR stunts and silhouettes of the Titanic Irish republicans are sent to jail with no evidence against them or framed and then criminalised and beaten in jail. 

All is not lost however.

Genuine Irish republicanism is rebuilding and steadily re-gaining momentum to restore honour and pride to the nation as we approach the centenary of 2016. We will achieve the genuine objectives and wishes as laid out by our martyred dead and that is a 32 county socialist republic and nothing less.


  1. Great post, what do we expect from carpet baggers such as FF, FG, Labour,and now not only joining the club of hypocrites but leading it is quisling $inn £ein the party of political opportunists who turned revolution on its head to attack its very own supporters by implementing austerity cuts on the very people who carried that movement ,they have joined that select band of bastards called politicians and we should never forget any of their treachery...

  2. It is a credit to all those involved that these Republican commemorations still continue.
    Seventy two years later and though little has changed Republicanism remains.

  3. God bless him, and his two heroic successors whose anniversary we celebrate today.

  4. Last year, Aidan, I and four other Ardoyne Republicans laid wreaths at Sean's lonely grave...

    Whereas this year there was around 50 in attendence including, Billy McKee and others from the Forties.

    In a moving ceremony, Sean's bravery was recalled and I was privileged to have been there amongst genuine people.