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Veteran republican campaigning for 'No' votes

A VETERAN republican has emerged as one of the most prominent campaigners for a No vote in the children's referendum.

Solicitor Malachy Steenson (49) -- who has a Special Criminal Court conviction for republican activities -- is also a former member of the Worker's Party, who clashed with the leadership on a number of issues before being kicked out for attending a pro-life rally. Based in the North Strand area of Dublin, Mr Steenson, who also describes himself as a criminologist, has been associated with what one source described as "every strand of republicanism".

As a solicitor, he specialises in family law but also has a general practice. His conviction is understood to date from around two decades ago, but he was given a three-year suspended sentence and never served time.

He appeared on radio yesterday described as a Worker's Party member, but the party later released a statement saying he was not a member and his views on the referendum were "at complete variance" with theirs.

His expulsion last year was only the latest development in a political life which has seen him join a raft of mostly republican organisations.

In the past, he has been a member of Republican Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Socialist Party, but says he was never "a member of the Provos".

He is also connected to the family of murdered Real IRA boss Alan Ryan and appeared on various broadcast outlets after Mr Ryan's killing in September.

Mr Steenson says, as a republican and an anti-drugs campaigner, he knew the Ryan family and claimed he spoke out because Mr Ryan was dealing with drug dealers in society "and the State wasn't willing to do that".

He said he doesn't want to see "another generation blighted" with drugs, as he has witnessed around the North Strand and Ballybough.

His family has a strong Worker's Party and republican background and his father at one point infiltrated the British civil service, and was also jailed in 1966.

Although he was a member of the Worker's Party in his youth because of family ties, he chose to join other organisations until he was invited back a number of years ago, then later expelled.

Irish Independent