1972 – The RTÉ authority is replaced by the government after RTÉ broadcasts a radio interview with IRA leader Seán Mac Stiofáin.

On November 19, 1972, a controversial interview with Mac Stíofáin was broadcast on the RTÉ This Week radio programme. He was arrested on the same day and the interview was later used as evidence against him on a trial of IRA membership and on November 25 he was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. Political fallout arising from the interview was considerable and some days later, Fianna Fáil minister Gerry Collins sacked the entire RTÉ Authority.

On 19 November 1972, a controversial interview with Mac Stíofáin was broadcast on the RTÉ This Week radio programme. He was arrested on the same day and the interview was later used as evidence against him on a trial of IRA membership and on 25 November he was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. Political fallout arising from the interview was considerable and some days later, Fianna Fáil minister Gerry Collins sacked the entire RTÉ Authority.

Jailed in the Curragh Prison, Mac Stíofáin immediately embarked on a hunger and thirst strike. He was taken to the Dublin Mater Hospital, from where an IRA unit, including two members disguised as priests, unsuccessfully tried to free him on 26 November 1972. After this, he was transferred to the Military Hospital of the Curragh, in County Kildare. He ended his thirst strike on 28 November. His hunger strike led to tumultuous scenes in Dublin and protests outside the Mater Hospital where he was visited by the then Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Dermot Ryan, and his predecessor, Dr. John Charles McQuaid.

After fifty-seven days, he was ordered off his protest by the IRA Army Council for “bringing the IRA into disrepute”[citation needed]. Some have reported that IRA Council members Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill ordered him off the strike. However, Ó Brádaigh, by this time, had also been arrested. In fact, when he was transferred into the Glasshouse of the Curragh, Ó Brádaigh welcomed him.

Following standard procedures, Mac Stíofáin lost his rank upon arrest and he never again regained his influence within the IRA after his release in April 1973.

Advertisements

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.