Thursday 14 December 2017

McGahon hailed as 'courageous critic' of the IRA

Brendan McGahon
Brendan McGahon
John Downing

John Downing

Brendan McGahon, a Fine Gael TD for the Border constituency of Louth for 20 years, has died aged 80.

Mr McGahon, a good-humoured and approachable politician popular across all parties, was recalled by colleagues as "a courageous critic of the IRA and Sinn Féin" at the height of the Troubles. This was an era when intimidation by paramilitaries was rife, and serious assaults and even murders of those deemed to be against the Provisional IRA also occurred.

In 1996, Mr McGahon told the High Court in Dublin he had no doubt that two brothers, who unsuccessfully sued a British newspaper for libel, were actively linked to the Provisional IRA. One of these was Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, who is currently serving 18 months in prison for tax offences.

In a warm-hearted tribute, Taoiseach Enda Kenny noted that he had the pleasure of sharing an office with Mr McGahon at one stage. "Brendan was outspoken on behalf of the people of Louth in opposition to the actions of the IRA, and he showed exceptional resolve in standing up to them," the Taoiseach said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was "fearlessly courageous in defence of the rule of law on the Border in the bad times".

A newsagent and newspaper distributor by trade, he was a successful athlete in his youth, playing soccer with Dundalk. He was first elected to Louth County Council in 1979 and to the Dáil in 1982, holding the seat at four subsequent elections.

In summer 2002, ahead of his 66th birthday, he retired from politics. Various members of his family were also involved in politics and his nephew, Cllr John McGahon, serves on Louth County Council.

Brendan McGahon was right-wing on social issues and opposed the abolition of the death penalty. In a debate on the repeal of the Section 31 broadcast ban, he famously said "the only platform I would give terrorists would be the scaffold".

He will be buried after an 11.30am Mass on Saturday.

Irish Independent

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