IRA volunteer Séamus McElwain held in ‘huge esteem’ – Matt Carthy

Sinn Féin TD responds to criticism of commemoration of IRA volunteer McElwain

Matt Carthy of Sinn Féin. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Matt Carthy of Sinn Féin. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

IRA volunteer Séamus McElwain was an “intelligent, humorous, engaging young man”, Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has said.

The IRA man, who was killed in 1986, was held in “huge esteem,” Mr Carthy told an online commemoration to mark the 35th anniversary of his death.

McElwain was shot dead by the SAS as he was preparing to ambush a British army patrol near Roslea, Co Fermanagh.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has previously said she believes McElwain was the IRA volunteer who had tried to murder her father.

Mr Carthy, Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan, told the online broadcast McElwain was “very fondly remembered by all who knew him,” and by newer generations of republicans.

The commemoration was organised by the local Monaghan and Fermanagh Sinn Féin branches, and broadcast on Facebook on Monday evening.

Mr Carthy was critical of negative media commentary surrounding the commemoration, and descriptions of McElwain as “evil”.

He described the IRA volunteer as an “ordinary Irish country lad,” who was 26 years old when he was “killed in his own country by foreign occupying forces”.

The Sinn Féin TD said McElwain was “by all accounts, an intelligent, humorous, engaging young man.”

Mr Carthy said had McElwain been captured, rather than shot and killed, he would have been released under the terms of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“To commemorate Séamus is not to ignore the pain caused to victims of IRA actions,” he said. The online event had been “reflective, poignant and forward-looking,” he added.