Belfast Telegraph

IRA veteran who called end to armed campaign to become SF councillor

By Rebecca Black

A veteran IRA man is set to become co-opted to represent Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council, it has been reported.

Seanna Walsh's face was on television screens across the world in 2005 when he read a statement from the IRA announcing the end of its armed campaign.

He served time in the Maze twice, firstly after being arrested in 1973 for robbing a bank and again in 1976 for possession of a firearm.

The Short Strand man went on to become officer commanding the IRA prisoners in the Maze. He was arrested again in the 1980s after being caught making explosives and was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Since then Mr Walsh has become involved with Sinn Fein in west Belfast.

On Monday morning he is expected to be confirmed as the new Sinn Fein councillor for the Colin area of west Belfast.

The move comes after sitting Colin councillor Bill Groves stepped down.

Mr Groves has served just over a year on the council. It is understood that he is stepping down due to personal reasons but will remain a member of Sinn Fein.

The Andersonstown News has reported Mr Walsh will take over as a Colin councillor replacing Mr Groves from Monday. He said he was honoured to have been selected to serve on the council.

"If the Ard Comhairle gives it the go-ahead then I will do my utmost to deliver for the people of Colin," he told the paper.

"I'm looking forward to being a part of shaping a new city and new politics in the city."

He added that he was excited to sit on the council.

"I have always seen the struggle as a political one and I have been an active republican all my life," he said.

"I am grateful that we have moved on to new territory, it's an exciting time to be involved in politics, indeed, and Sinn Fein are now the largest party in Ireland and we have come a long way in the struggle.

"I believe we are closer to our primary objective than ever before, the establishment of an Irish national democracy."

Mr Walsh will join a number of Sinn Fein councillors in Belfast who have IRA backgrounds.

They include Sinn Fein group leader on the council Jim McVeigh, who was the last IRA commanding officer in the Maze Prison.

He was sentenced to 24 years for conspiracy to murder soldiers but released early under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Court councillor Mary McConville previously served two-and-a-half years in prison for IRA charges and Oldpark councillor Mary Clarke is also a former IRA prisoner and took part in the hunger strikes.

Meanwhile, Botanic councillor Deirdre Hargey was among 70 people present at Magennis' Bar on January 30, 2005 when Robert McCartney was killed nearby following a dispute inside the bar.

However, in a statement to a solicitor, Ms Hargey said she saw nothing.

Belfast Telegraph


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