Former H-Block TD Paddy Agnew visits Leinster House
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD today welcomed former Louth TD Paddy Agnew into Leinster House.
The former Republican H-Block prisoner was elected as a Teachta Dála for Louth in June 1981 when he topped the poll. Paddy held the seat until the following February and the general election of 1982.
Paddy Agnew and his wife Catherine were also welcomed by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and by the Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan. Earlier the Ceann Comhairle welcomed him to the Dáil chamber.
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD presented Paddy Agnew with the formal framed statement from the Returning Officer of his election to the Dáil and to Catherine a framed copy of the An Phoblacht which announced Paddy and Ciaran Doherty’s election as TDs.
Teachta McDonald said:
“It’s 37 years later and Paddy has finally come across the threshold of Leinster House. Many of those involved in Sinn Féin today were not born at that time but they and we are part of a struggle which is about achieving Irish unity. I believe we have the exceptional privilege of living through an unprecedented opportunity to end partition. That is within our grasp.”
Gerry Adams TD, who invited Paddy and Catherine Agnew’s visit to the Dáil today, spoke of Paddy’s historic Louth win. He said:
“Paddy was imprisoned on several occasions for his republican activities. He spent time in Portlaoise, Mountjoy, Crumlin Road prisons and in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. He was first imprisoned in 1973. In 1977, he was captured with Arthur Morgan and others on a boat in Carlingford Lough. He was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment and like hundreds more at that time went on the blanket protest against the British government’s criminalisation policy. It was a cruel and brutal prison regime.
"It was decided to stand prisoner candidates from the H-Blocks and Armagh Women’s prison in the June 1981 general election. Kieran Doherty, who subsequently died on August 2nd after 73 days on hunger strike, and Paddy, were both elected to the Dáil on June 11th 1981.
"Other prisoner candidates including Joe McDonnell who died on hunger strike on July 6th and Maireád Farrell who was killed at Gibraltar, secured significant popular support and votes. As a result, Fianna Fáil, which was expected to win the election, lost to Fine Gael and Labour.
"Paddy Agnew was released from prison in 1986 and joined Sinn Féin in Dundalk. He has remained an active party since then contributing to the election of Arthur Morgan and then in recent years to the election of both myself and Imelda Munster”.