Joe McCann: Official IRA leader had sought a socialist Ireland

Commander took part in fighting during a curfew on Falls Road in in July 1970

Two ex-British soldiers are to be charged with murdering Official IRA commander Joe McCann in Belfast more than 44 years ago, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service has said.

Mr McCann had sought to set about creating a socialist Ireland.

He took part in Northern Ireland’s first civil rights march for equal rights for Catholics in 1968 and supported an “Army of the People” involved in social struggle, his family has said.

At the start of the Troubles in 1969, the IRA had split into Official and Provisional organisations. Both opposed the partition of Ireland and refused to recognise the governments of either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.


While the northern-dominated Provisionals advocated violence, the Officials, with a leadership based in the Republic, pursued a policy of creating a socialist Ireland through less violent means, relatively speaking.

Feud with Provisionals

It feuded with the Provisionals and targeted members of the security forces, but research has linked them to fewer than 50 killings between 1969 and 1979. The Provisionals killed about 1,700.

Mr McCann was involved in the Belfast Housing Action Committee, seeking better housing and establishing co-operatives, his family has said.

He reportedly took part in fighting during a curfew on the nationalist Falls Road in West Belfast in July 1970, and in August 1971 in the Markets area of the city centre he clashed with British troops as commander of the Official IRA.

Press Association