Pat Sheehan (Irish republican)

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Pat Sheehan
Pat Sheehan.jpg
Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly
for Belfast West
Assumed office
7 December 2010
Preceded by Gerry Adams
Personal details
Born (1958-05-28) 28 May 1958 (age 60) [1]
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin
Spouse(s) Siobhán O'Hanlon (2006; her death)
Children Cormac Sheehan
Religion Roman Catholicism

Pat Sheehan (born 1958) is a Sinn Féin politician in Northern Ireland, and former Provisional Irish Republican Army hunger striker at the Maze Prison.[2]

Hunger strike

Sheehan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 1978 he was convicted of causing an explosion and sentenced to 15 years.[3]

Sheehan was the 17th republican inmate at the Maze Prison to join the 1981 hunger strikes, which was aimed at gaining political status for Provisional IRA and Irish National Liberation Army prisoners. He began fasting on 10 August - after nine prisoners had already starved themselves to death - and ended when the hunger strike was officially called off on 3 October. He survived 55 days without food.

By the time Sheehan began fasting, the strike had already begun to break. Another protester, Paddy Quinn, was taken off the hunger strike on 31 July after his mother called for medical intervention when her son was close to death following 47 days without food. This action - and calls by the Catholic Church to end the strike - prompted other relatives to do the same. The last prisoner to die was Michael Devine, who starved to death on 20 August after 60 days. The hunger strike was ultimately called off after it had become clear that nearly all the prisoners' families would intervene to stop their sons from dying.

He was released in 1987, but was convicted again in 1989 for more bombing offences and sentenced to 24 years.[4] He was released under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement

On 3 October 2006, Sheehan marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the hunger strike by reading the prisoners' statement that ended the protest outside the gates of the now closed Maze Prison.

Political career

On 7 December 2010, he succeeded Gerry Adams as MLA for Belfast West, Adams having resigned in order to contest the Irish general election, 2011. Sheehan retained the seat for Sinn Féin at the 2011 Assembly election.

Sheehan has provoked anger and controversy by describing the Troubles as “probably quite civilised” and saying the IRA “could have left a 1,000lb car bomb on the Shankill” if it wanted to kill Protestants.[5]

As at August 2015, he is a Political Member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.[6]

Personal life

Pat Sheehan is the widower of Sinn Féin activist Siobhán O'Hanlon who died from cancer in 2006. He has a son.[7] Pat is also a keen cricket fan.[8]


  1. "MLA Details: Mr Pat Sheehan".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Pat Sheehan picked to succeed Gerry Adams at Stormont". BBC. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Sinn Fein members with IRA links".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Pat Sheehan: I'm humbled to be following Gerry Adams".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Belfast Telegraph - Pat Sheehan's IRA comments spark outrage". The Belfast Telegraph. The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved August 29, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The Board". Retrieved 22 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Pat Sheehan MLA". Sinn Féin. Retrieved 27 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Profile of new Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan". BBC News. 17 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Gerry Adams
MLA for Belfast West
Succeeded by