Séanna Breathnach

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Séanna Breathnach
Séanna Breathnach speaking at a Sinn Féin commemoration for IRA Volunteer Charlie McGlade in Drimnagh, Dublin.
Born 1957
Short Strand, East Belfast, Northern Ireland
Allegiance Provisional Irish Republican Army
Years of service 1971- 1997
Rank Volunteer
Conflict The Troubles[1]

Séanna Breathnach (English: Séanna Walsh; born 1957) is an Irish republican and a former volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Breathnach was born in the Short Strand area of East Belfast but for a time lived in Ravenhill Avenue until loyalists intimidated the Walsh family out of their home. Séanna’s great grandfather had been shot dead in the same area by B-Specials when Northern Ireland was founded.[2]

In 1973, he was arrested along with a number of fellow IRA men while robbing a bank and was sentenced to five years imprisonment. In Long Kesh prison, where he was entitled to Special Category Status as an IRA prisoner, he met and befriended Bobby Sands.[2]

Séanna was released from prison in May 1976. Three months later he was arrested and charged with possession of a rifle and was sentenced to ten years. By the time he arrived back in the H-Blocks, the British government had withdrawn Special Category status and IRA members had commenced the blanket protest. Walsh refused to wear a prison uniform and went on to become one of the leaders of the blanket protest.[2]

When the hunger strike ended in late 1981, Walsh became the Officer Commanding (OC) of the IRA prisoners in the H-Blocks. He was released after seven years and seven months. Upon his release, he married Sinéad Moore, a former republican prisoner, and had two daughters, the youngest of whom was only two weeks old when he was arrested again.[2]

He was caught making explosives and mortar bombs and was sentenced to twenty-two years. While on remand in Crumlin Road Gaol he again became OC of the IRA prisoners.[2]

At the age of forty-two he had spent over half his life, a total of twenty-one years, in jail. He was released under the provisions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement. He now works for Sinn Féin.[2]

In July 2005, he appeared on a DVD reading out a statement from the IRA Army Council announcing the end to its armed campaign.[3] In doing so, Breathnach became the first IRA member since 1972 to represent the organisation without wearing a mask.[4]


  1. the most important campaigns ever fought by the British Army and its fellow Services
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Danny Morrison (16 August 2004). "An Issue of Trust". Andersonstown News. Retrieved 2007-03-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Angelique Chrisafis (29 July 2005). "After 35 years of bombs and blood a quiet voice ends the IRA's war". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-03-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Kevin Cullen (31 July 2005). "Among IRA veterans, quiet acceptance of peace declaration". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-10-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>