Gerry McGeough (born 1958, near Dungannon, County Tyrone) is a prominent Irish republican who was a volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), a former Sinn Féin activist and editor of the defunct The Hibernian magazine. McGeough broke with Sinn Féin in 2001 and he is now an independent Irish Catholic/nationalist activist. McGeough was set to serve 20 years imprisonment after being found guilty in 2011 for attempted murder, although he was released two years later, on 29 January 2013, under the Good Friday Agreement.
McGeough joined the Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade in 1975, aged 16. According to Tim Pat Coogan, Gerry McGeough was beaten by RUC interrogators at Cookstown barracks, Co. Tyrone in 1977, and was deported from Britain following a brief visit to London in 1978. McGeough had been arrested and interrogated for a full week before deportation, on suspicion that he was an IRA member. After activity in Ireland and Europe, he was arrested (along with another IRA member, Gerry Hanratty) in August 1988 while crossing the Dutch-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 the United States, where he was charged with attempting to buy surface-to-air-missiles in 1983. He served three years of his sentence in US prisons until his release in 1996 whereupon he was deported to the Republic of Ireland.
McGeough led Sinn Féin's opposition to the referendum on the Nice Treaty in the Republic of Ireland. He was also a Sinn Féin national executive (ard-comhairle) member before becoming disgusted with what he perceives as the socially "liberal" views of "nouveau Sinn Féin".
Post-Sinn Féin activism
McGeough is known for his opposition to what he perceives as "liberalism" within contemporary Sinn Féin:
You would never get a leader of Sinn Féin condemning abortion, homosexual "marriage" or anything of that nature. I, as an Irish nationalist and Roman 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.
In May 2006, McGeough, as editor, and Charles Byrne, a 28-year-old from Drogheda, launched a monthly magazine called The Hibernian, dedicated to "Faith, Family and Country". The magazine had articles espousing the views of Father Denis Fahey and also promoted the Society of St. Pius X.
In 2007, McGeough declared he would be standing for election in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections against Sinn Féin in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency. He put himself forward as a protest against Sinn Féin's vote in January 2007 to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), a key provision of the St Andrews Agreement. He polled 1.8% of the vote.
The Hibernian ceased publication in 2008.
In the same period, McGeough became associated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, taking control of the organisation's branch in County Tyrone. McGeough was expelled from the Ancient Order of Hibernians in 2019.
Arrest and conviction
On 8 March 2007 McGeough was arrested by the PSNI whilst leaving the election count centre in Omagh. The arrest was in connection with the 1981 shooting of Sammy Brush. Brush, an off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, was delivering mail in his job as a postman near Aughnacloy when he was shot. Brush, who was armed and wearing a bullet-proof vest, managed to return fire in the incident and shot his assailant who fled. McGeough and Vincent McAnespie were charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. Both men were remanded in custody to appear at Dungannon Magistrates' Court on 4 April 2007. McGeough was granted bail on 29 March. Gerry McGeough's lawyers have published a document they claim is proof that a Royal Pardon was given to another alleged IRA member, and questioned why McGeough was not treated similarly. The Northern Ireland Office has stated that it is instead Prerogative of Mercy that was applied to a small number of cases under the Early Release Scheme to resolve technical anomalies.
McGeogh was convicted in February 2011 of attempted murder, possessing firearms with intent, and IRA membership. He was sentenced in April 2011 to 20 years imprisonment, although under the Good Friday Agreement he served less than two years in jail, and was finally released on 29 January 2013.
McAnespie was acquitted of all charges against him.
Comments on the judiciary
On 8 August 2016 McGeough was reported as saying that 'Catholics serving as judges and prosecutors in the Northern Ireland legal system are "traitors" who will be dealt with as "collaborators" once the English are removed. The chairman of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, Gerry McAlinden QC, stated that "An independent, impartial judiciary and independent, impartial prosecuting counsel play a fundamental role in the maintenance of the rule of law and the protection of rights of all citizens in a free and democratic society ... Impartial and dedicated judges and prosecutors uphold the law and provide justice for victims and the community, and they should be allowed to work without fear or threat. Any attempt to intimidate members of the judiciary or members of the legal profession engaged in prosecution work is to be deplored by all right thinking members of society."
Gerry McGeough is the author of two books, 'The Ambush and other Stories' (1996) and a novel, 'Defenders' (1998). Gerry McGeough has also published a number of articles in local history periodicals.
- Gerry McGeough (15 February 2007). "Gerry McGeough - Biography". HibernianMedia.com. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- Coogan, Tim Pat (2000). The IRA (Fully Revised and Updated). London: Harper/Collins Publishers. p. 740. ISBN 0006531555.
- "Behind the Mask: The Ira and Sinn Féin". Frontline. 11 October 1997. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- "Former IRA prisoner to contest Fermanagh-South Tyrone seat". UTV. 29 January 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- "'Nice to be Back on the Winning Side'". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2006.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), A. Shaw, Red Action Bulletin, Volume 4, Issue 12, July/Aug 2001.
- Henry McDonald (28 December 2003). "Isn't it time that the double-speak stopped?". The Observer. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- Henry McDonald (28 December 2003). "IRA bomber attacks Sinn Féin on abortion". The Observer. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- Ex-Provo gives new life to Irish clerical fascism, Scott Millar, Searchlight Magazine, August 2006
- Henry McDonald (7 January 2007). "Gunrunner in poll threat to Sinn Féin". The Observer. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- "Fermanagh and South Tyrone election result 2007".
- Magazine run by murder-bid defendant folds, Diana Rusk, The Irish News, 11 October 2008, retrieved 10 April 2009
- Young, Connla (3 July 2019). "Gerry McGeough vows to fight expulsion from Ancient Order of Hibernians". Retrieved 14 March 2021.
- Gerry McGeough guilty of 1981 Samuel Brush murder bid
- "Republican candidate is arrested". BBC. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- Assembly candidate arrested over 1981 murder attempt Belfast Telegraph 8 March 2007. Accessed 11 March 2007
- "Pair face 1981 murder bid charge". BBC. 12 March 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- Arrest of pair on polling day was an abuse of the electoral process, counsel tells hearing Belfast Telegraph Accessed 16 March 2007
- "Bail given to arrested candidate". BBC. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2007.
- Queen pardoned IRA fugitive
- McGeough: 20 years for attempted murder of UDR soldier
- McGeough released from prison by Michael McGlade. The News Letter, 2 February 2013
- "Leading QC: McGeough threat to judges is to be deplored". The News Letter. Belfast. 9 August 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
- Gerry McGeough's blog (inactive since 2007)