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Text and Research: Brendan Lynn ... Edited and Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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| Ó Brádaigh | Ó Conaill | O'Neill | Orde | Orme |

Ó Brádaigh, Ruairí (b. 1932)
Republican Activist; President of Provisional Sinn Féin (PSF) 1970-81; President of Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) 1986-present

A native of County Roscommon Ruairí Ó Brádaigh first became involved in republican activities whilst still a student and participated in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) border campaign of the period 1956-62. At the 1957 general election in the Irish Republic Ó Brádaigh was elected to the Dáil as a Sinn Féin (SF) TD for the constituency of Longford-Westmeath (1957-61) on an abstentionist ticket. He is also alleged to have been Chief of Staff of the IRA on two occasions, serving in the post between 1958 to 1959 and 1961 to 1962. Following the split in the republican movement at the end of the 1960s he was at the forefront of the efforts that were to result in the formation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and Provisional Sinn Fein (PSF).

In January 1970 Ó Brádaigh became President of PSF (1970-83). Over the years he worked hard to promote its political programme for Irish unification, of which he was the main author, based on a federal solution entitled Éire Nua. By the early 1980s however his position within PSF had been weakened by the growing influence of elements led by individuals such as the party Vice-President, Gerry Adams. This was to culminate in 1981 when the decision was taken to drop the Éire Nua policy. This move was taken as a clear indication of his declining influence and two years later he in 1983 he resigned as President of PSF. But he was careful to warn his successor, Gerry Adams, that any further attempt to abandon any other of the party's traditional policies would result in a further split. As a result in 1986 he led the opposition to the move by Adams and his allies to drop PSF's refusal to take their seats, if elected, in the Dáil. When this attempt failed Ó Brádaigh and a group of supporters left to establish their own political movement, Republican Sinn Féin (RSF).

With Ó Brádaigh as President (1986-present) RSF has been a constant critic of the involvement of their former colleagues in the Northern Ireland 'Peace Process' and have accused them of abandoning core republican principles. In particular RSF has remained steadfastly opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and has roundly condemned other republican elements who have taken steps such as taking seats in bodies such as the new Northern Ireland Assembly and the Dáil.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Kelley, Kevin.(1983), The Longest War: Northern Ireland and the IRA. Dingle, Brandon Books.
Maloney, Ed. (2002), A Secret History of the IRA. London: Penguin Press.
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan
Web Sources:
[Entry Written by B.Lynn 5 December 2002]

Ó Conaill, Dáithí (b. 1937)
Republican Activist; Vice-President of Provisional Sinn Féin 1974-83
[Entry to be included at a later date]

O'Neill, Terence (Life Peerage 1970) (b. 10 September 1914)
Politician; Unionist MP (Stormont); Prime Minister of Northern Ireland March 1963 - April 1969

Terence O'Neill was born in County Antrim where his family owned a large estate and was educated at Eton College. During the Second World War O'Neill saw active service in the Irish Guards and subsequently reached the rank of Captain. In 1946 he entered politics for the first time when returned at a by-election as the Unionist MP for the Stormont constituency of Bannside (1946-70). After serving in a number of junior ministerial positions O'Neill became a member of the Northern Ireland cabinet in 1955 with his appointment as Minister of Home Affairs (November 1955 - September 1956). This was followed by a spell as Minister of Finance (September 1956 - March 1963) and when Lord Brookeborough retired as Prime Minister in 1963, O'Neill was to emerge as his successor (March 1963 - April 1969).

From the outset O'Neill set the new administration a series of ambitious goals. To begin with he was determined to attract new sources of investment in order to counteract the problems that had been created by the decline of traditional industries such as shipbuilding and linen. In addition he was keen to improve Northern Ireland's social and economic infrastructure by moving to encompass the new concepts of central government planning and organisation. His belief in the need for reform also involved seeking to develop better community relations within Northern Ireland. This was attempted by seeking to build closer ties with the authorities in Dublin and slowly moving to address the sense of alienation felt by many within the minority Catholic community towards the political system in Northern Ireland.

On all these fronts O'Neill was to achieve mixed results. Whilst there was to be some success in improving economic and social conditions, major difficulties were to develop elsewhere. In particular moves such as his meeting in January 1965 with Séan Lemass, then Irish Taoiseach, raised concerns amongst many within the unionist community as to O'Neill's commitment to the constitutional status quo. On the other hand for Northern nationalists the apparent failure of his government to meet their calls for reform gave way to disillusionment and then to the rise of the civil rights campaign. Faced with these twin problems by the end of the 1960s O'Neill felt his room for manoeuvre was becoming increasingly limited as relations between the two communities became further strained. In an attempt to strengthen his own position he called an election for February 1969 but in the end this gamble failed and by April 1969 as the situation continued to deteriorate he resigned as Prime Minister. A few months later he also gave up his Stormont seat and after receiving a life peerage in January 1970 he settled in England and took his place in the House of Lords as Lord O'Neill of the Maine.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Harbinson, John. Fitzsimons. (1973), The Ulster Unionist Party, 1882-1973: Its Development and Organisation. Belfast: Blackstaff Press
Hennessey, Thomas. (1997), A History of Northern Ireland 1920-1996. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan
Mulholland, Marc. (2000), Northern Ireland at the Crossroads: Ulster Unionism in the O'Neill Years 1960-9. London: Macmillan.
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
O'Neill, Terence. (1969), Ulster at the Crossroads. London: Faber and Faber.
O'Neill, Terence. (1972), The Autobiography of Terence O'Neill. London: Hart-Davis.
Web Sources:
[Entry Written by B.Lynn 5 December 2002]

Orde, Hugh (b. )
Police Officer; Chief Constable of the RUC 2002-present
[Entry to be included at a later date]

Orme, Stanley (Life Peerage) (b. 5 April 1923)
Politician; Labour Party MP; Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) 1974-76

Stan Orme was elected in 1964 as the new Labour MP for Salford West (1964-83) and later also represented the constituency of Salford East (1983-97). Throughout the 1960s Orme took a special interest in Northern Ireland and began to visit it on a regular basis in order to investigate claims of alleged discrimination by the Unionist authorities against the minority Catholic community. Soon this led to him associating himself, along with many other Labour MPs at Westminster, with the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU). Not surprisingly therefore this background ensured that his appointment in 1974 as Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was greeted with a great deal of hostility from Unionist opinion. During his time at the NIO, Orme was responsible for the departments of Commerce and Manpower Services. In 1976 he returned to London following his appointment as a junior minister at the department of Social Services. Orme remained an MP until stepping down at the 1997 general election and later that year received a life peerage.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 26 March 2003]

The information has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources.
The best general sources for additional information are:
  • Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
  • McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
  • Ramsden, John. (ed.) (2002), The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    For related and background information see also:
  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict
  • The abstracts on prominent organisations
  • The chronology of the conflict

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