HomeHistoryRuairi Ó Brádaigh an Unrepentant Republican

Ruairi Ó Brádaigh an Unrepentant Republican

Born Peter Roger Casement Brady, he grew up in a middle-class family in Longford. His mother, Mary Caffrey, had been in Cumann na mBan. His father, Matt Brady, was a member of the Volunteers and died when Brady was just 10 years old. At the age of 18, Brady joined Sinn Féin and, the following year while studying commerce at University College Dublin, he also joined the IRA. At college, he obtained a certificate in teaching Irish and a teaching position with Roscommon Vocational Education Committee followed, by which time Brady had changed his name to the Irish version, Ó Brádaigh.

Berkshire Barracks Raid

In the mid-1950s, Ó Brádaigh was running IRA training and was instructed by the organisation’s ruling army council to lead a raid on a barracks in Berkshire, England. The raid netted 55 Sten sub- machine guns and almost 90,000 bullets. In 1956, Ó Brádaigh was responsible for training IRA men for the organisation’s Border campaign. He participated personally in an armed assault on a police station in Derrylin in Co Fermanagh, during which an RUC constable, John Scally, was killed.Ó Brádaigh was one of several people arrested in the Free state after the raid and was jailed for six months for failing to explain to the Garda what they had been doing.

Elected to Leinster House

In 1957, he was elected to Leinster House for Longford-Westmeath, but, because of Sinn Féin’s then policy of not recognising the State and abstaining from full participation in politics, he did not take his seat. In October 1958, he was appointed chief of staff of the IRA, a position he held until the following year when Seán Cronin, subsequently The Irish Times Washington correspondent, took over, Ó Brádaigh assuming the post of adjutant general to Cronin.

Throughout much of the 1960s, Sinn Féin and the IRA were largely inactive but in 1969 the outbreak of War boosted the organisation.

The Troubles

Under Ó Brádaigh’s leadership of Provisional Sinn Féin, successive leaders of the IRA, notably Seán Mac Stiofáin and Dáithí Ó Conaill, orchestrated a sustained Armed campaign in the 6 counties, Britain and, occasionally, continental Europe. Ó Brádaigh remained implacably opposed to the compromises and sell out of the peace process as it developed throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.

Republican Sinn Féin

He founded Republican Sinn Féin in 1986 in opposition to entering Leinster House earning the sobriquet “dissident” from the Adams-McGuinness leadership. In 2005, the party offices on Dublin’s Parnell Street sported a banner proclaiming “100 years unbroken Continuity”.  He was Chief of Staff of the IRA from 1958 to 1959 and again from 1960 to 1962, president of Sinn Féin from 1970 to 1983, and president of Republican Sinn Fèin from 1987 to 2009. Ruairi died on the 5th of June 2013 aged 80. His loss was immeasurable but so too was the legacy he left behind.



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