The Observer | Politics | IRA bomber attacks Sinn Fein on abortion

IRA bomber attacks Sinn Fein on abortion

Terrorist who turned teacher demands a stronger Catholic line

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday December 28, 2003
The Observer

One of the IRA's most important gun-runners and bombers has accused his Sinn Fein comrades of being too politically correct about abortion and gay marriage.
Gerry McGeough, who was jailed in the United States for attempting to buy Stinger surface-to-air missiles for the Provos, said some Sinn Fein members were anti-Catholic on moral issues.

McGeough, a former Sinn Fein national executive member and key figure in the IRA's East Tyrone Brigade, said: 'You would never get a leader of Sinn Fein condemning abortion, homosexual "marriage" or anything of that nature.

'I, as an Irish nationalist and Catholic, never want to see the day when there are abortion clinics in every market town in Ireland. But looking around there is no political grouping willing to take a stance against that.'

McGeough told the Irish Catholic that his faith sustained him while he was in jail on terrorism charges.

The gun-runner, who was prepared to ship missiles, rifles and explosives into Northern Ireland during the Troubles, said he was pro-life and militantly opposed to abortion.

He also sounds a conservative, Euro-sceptical note in his interview: 'Many people, I believe, wish for a society where faith, decency, pro-life convictions and national self-determination within Europe can flourish; and not be swallowed up in a dictatorial EU bureaucracy.

'What we need is a strong Church, led by strong church figures willing to stand up and say what the Church stands for.'

Referring to his past, McGeough said it was his 'patriotic duty' to join the IRA in 1975 and take up arms. He believed the IRA's armed campaign was just.

'I was a soldier. I came into contact with other soldiers and no civilians were involved. I believe it was a "just war", and that peoples and nations have a right to defend themselves; that the English have no right to be in Ireland, or any part of it. Bear in mind that the Catholic Church has chaplains in almost every army in the world.'

McGeough was arrested in August 1988 while crossing the Netherlands-German border with two AK47 rifles in his car. He was charged with attacks on the British Army of the Rhine and held for four years in a specially built German detention centre.

His trial in Germany was interrupted by extradition to America, where he was charged with attempting to buy the surface-to-air-missiles in 1983. He served three years in American prisons before his release in 1996.

Now working as a teacher in Dublin, McGeough has just completed a history degree from Trinity College Dublin.

Although he has left the republican movement, McGeough remains committed to Patrick Pearse's vision of a Gaelic Catholic Ireland, which stresses the cultural and religious aspects of nationalism.

'I believe that we have a God-given duty to ensure that the faith is kept alive and passed on to future generations,' he said.

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