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Key Sinn Fein figures with roots in a troubled past

Maeve Sheehan


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Sinn Fein is the country's most popular party, with 120,000 votes to spare. Those who voted for the republicans in their droves are concerned with the pressing issues of the present, such as housing.

The TDs they propelled into Leinster House say they are focused on the future. Yet several key figures who spent the past four years setting Sinn Fein on its path to success are part of its troubled past. They are considered key backroom figures in republican politics in Northern Ireland but, Sinn Fein being an all-Ireland party, their influence has extended on this side of the Border, too.

Sean Hughes is a former IRA commander from South Armagh who was reputedly a close associate of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy and is known as The Surgeon. He has been a key organiser for Sinn Fein. When turbulence broke out over allegations of intimidation, bullying and excessive control in several regional branches of the party, Hughes was one of those drafted in to smooth things over.