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Surname: A B C D E F G H I J K L M Mc N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

| McAleese | McAliskey | McCann | McCartney | McCrea | McFarland | McGimpsey | McGrady | McGuinness | McIvor | McKeown | McLaughlin | McMichael | McNamara | McWilliams |

McAleese, Mary (b. 27 June 1951)
Lawyer; Academic; President of the Republic of Ireland 1997-present
[Entry to be included at a later date]


McAliskey, Bernadette Josephine (formerly Bernadette Devlin) (b. 23 April 1947)
Politician; Civil Rights Activist; Independent MP 1969-74

Bernadette McAliskey (formerly Bernadette Devlin) was born in Cookstown, County Tyrone, and educated at St Patrick's Girls' Academy, Dungannon, and Queen's University Belfast. Whilst a student at Queen's, McAliskey became closely involved with the civil rights movement and was a prominent member of the People's Democracy (PD), a radical leftwing group established at the university in late 1968. As one of the leaders of the PD she participated in all of the main marches organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NIRCA) in the 1968-69 period. Her growing profile led to her selection as a 'Unity' candidate in March 1969 to contest the Westminster by-election for the constituency of Mid Ulster. She went on to win the seat becoming the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Commons and managed to retain it until the general election of February 1974.

In 1970 she was sentenced to six months imprisonment for her involvement in the civil unrest which had broken out in Derry in August 1969. In January 1972 she gained further notoriety when she physically attacked the British Home Secretary during a debate at Westminster in protest at the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry. Having lost her seat in February 1974, McAliskey continued to espouse left-wing ideals and went onto help to form the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP). This was however never to become more than a fringe party and it took events at the election to the European Parliament in 1979 to return her to public attention. In this contest she decided to stand as a means of publicising the cause of republican prisoners in jails in Northern Ireland who had begun a series of protests in order to secure changes to the prison regime. McAliskey's decision was not welcomed by the prisoners and the wider republican movement and they instead urged their supporters to boycott the poll. In spite of this she went on to register a sizeable vote and against predictions managed to save her deposit. Her performance therefore seemed to indicate that there existed a sizeable section of the nationalist electorate who were prepared to look for an alternative to the existing political parties.

For a time McAliskey continued to play a major role in organising public support for the prisoners campaign. She became a prominent member of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee as the protests moved to encompass a hunger strike by a number of Republican prisoners. In the midst of this, in February 1981, an attack by loyalist paramilitaries left McAliskey and her husband seriously wounded. After recovering she continued to be involved in political issues but was never part of any mainstream movement and instead associated herself with various leftwing causes. In recent years McAliskey has been critical of the 'Peace Process' in Northern Ireland and the involvement of Republicans in this.

Book References:
Arthur, Paul. (1974), The People's Democracy 1968-73. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Beresford, David. (1987), Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strikes. London: Grafton.
Devlin, Bernadette. (1969), The Price of My Soul. London: Pan Books Ltd.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (1997), A History of Northern Ireland 1920-1996. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 20 December 2002]


McCann, Eamon (b. 10 March 1943)
Civil Rights Activist; Journalist; Trade Unionist
[Entry to be included at a later date]


McCartney, Robert (b. 1936)
Politician; United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) MP 1995-2001; Leader of the UKUP 1996-present

Born in the Shankill Road area of Belfast, Bob McCartney was educated at Grosvenor Grammar School, Belfast, and Queen's University Belfast. McCartney then pursued a legal career, qualifying as a solicitor in 1962, being called to the bar in 1968, and becoming a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1975. His first involvement in politics came in the early 1980s and he was subsequently elected in October 1982 to the Northern Ireland Assembly as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) representing the constituency of North Down (1982-86). In 1987 however an internal party dispute saw him expelled from the UUP. As a result he stood at the 1987 Westminster election as a 'Real Unionist' in the North Down seat and although he polled well he failed to defeat the sitting MP, James Kilfedder. The death of Kilfedder in 1995 however prompted McCartney to contest the by-election in June 1995 and in a surprise result he became the new MP for North Down (1995-2001).

Opposed to the evolving 'Peace Process' McCartney then formed the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP) to contest the elections to the Northern Ireland Forum in May 1996. Along with two of his party colleagues he was elected to this new body and the UKUP initially participated in the multi-party talks that began in June 1996. Their scepticism over these negotiations however was clear and this led to them withdrawing on frequent occasions in protest at the form these discussions were taking. When Sinn Féin (SF) entered the discussions in the summer of 1997 the UKUP joined the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in formally leaving the negotiations. As a result McCartney voiced his opposition to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of April 1998 and campaigned for a 'No' vote in the referendum of May 1998.

At the elections to the new Northern Ireland Assembly he led the UKUP to win five seats and the party became closely associated with the anti-GFA faction in the Assembly. Behind the scenes however relations within the UKUP, between McCartney and his Assembly colleagues, deteriorated as a result of differences over policy and also personality clashes. In January 1999 this resulted in four UKUP Assembly members departing to form their own political grouping and leaving McCartney as the sole representative of the UKUP in the Assembly (1998-present). A further blow to McCartney then came at the Westminster general election of June 2001 when he lost his North Down seat to the UUP.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.ukup.org/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/troubles/factfiles/ukunionist.shtml
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/rmccartney.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 20 December 2002]


McCrea, ('Willie') William Robert Thomas (Reverend) (b. 6 August 1948)
Politician; Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP 1983-1997 and 2000-2001

Willie McCrea was born in Stewartstown, County Tyrone, and worked in the civil service before going onto become a minister in the Free Presbyterian Church. His political career began in the early 1970s when McCrea was prominently involved in loyalist protests. With the formation of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in September 1971 he became a member and was first elected to represent the DUP in 1973 on Magherafelt District Council (1973-present). Later in addition to serving as Chairman of the Council (1977-81 and 1997-98) McCrea was also returned in 1982 to the Northern Ireland Assembly (1982-86) for Mid-Ulster. Then at the Westminster general election of 1983 he won the Mid-Ulster (1983-97) seat for the DUP by just 78 votes.

After a bitter contest at the 1997 general election McCrea lost the seat to the Sinn Féin (SF) candidate, Martin McGuinness. Although he was elected in May 1996 to the Northern Ireland Forum (1996-98) along with his colleagues in the DUP he later withdrew from the all-party talks that were to produce the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998. In the subsequent referendum campaign on the GFA in May 1998 McCrea actively campaigned for a "No" vote. In June 1998 he was once again returned for Mid-Ulster to the new Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-present). The DUP's opposition to the GFA was maintained within the Assembly and in September 2000 McCrea stood as its representative in the South Antrim Westminster by-election. To the surprise of many he won the contest and held the seat (2000-01) until his defeat by David Burnside of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) at the 2001 general election.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney., and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/wmccrea.htm
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 28 March 2003]


McFarland, Alan (b. 9 August 1949)
Politician; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLA

Alan McFarland was born in Londonderry and educated at Rockport School, Craigavad, Campbell College, Belfast and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst before going to serve as a Major in the Royal Tank Regiment. After leaving the military, McFarland took up a position as a Parliamentary Assistant at Westminster for the Rev Martin Smyth and James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). On two occasions, in June 1995 and May 1997, he was unsuccessful in attempting to win for the UUP the Westminster constituency of North Down. However in May 1996 McFarland was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum for North Down (1996-98) and again went on to represent the constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-present). When the new Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) was set up in November 2001, he was one of the three UUP nominees to take their seats on it (2001-present).

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.nipolicingboard.org.uk/our%20people/mcfarland.htm
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/amcfarland.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 21 March 2003]


McGimpsey, Michael (b. 1 June 1948)
Politician; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLA; Executive Minister November 1999 - October 2002

Born in Donaghadee, County Down Michael McGimpsey was educated at Regent House Grammar School, Newtonards. After studying English, History and Economics, at Trinity College Dublin, McGimpsey pursued a business career and went onto hold directorships in various companies. His first involvement in politics came in the early 1980s when along with his brother, Michael, they unofficially gave a presentation of the unionist case to the New Ireland Forum in Dublin. In 1988 the McGimpsey brothers again came to public prominence when they took a case challenging the legality of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) all the way to the Irish Supreme Court in Dublin. He was first returned to public office in 1993 when he was elected as a Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councillor on Belfast City Council (1993-present).

During the all-party talks leading up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998 McGimpsey gave his full support to the leader of the UUP, David Trimble, and in the subsequent referendum on the GFA in May 1998 campaigned for a 'Yes' vote. In June 1998 he was returned to the new Northern Ireland Assembly as an UUP representative for the constituency of Belfast South (1998-present) and soon began to emerge as a close ally of Trimble against internal party dissidents. As a result when the power-sharing Executive proposed under the GFA was finally established, McGimpsey's reward came when he was nominated by his party leader in late November 1999 as Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure. He then served in this post until the suspension of the institutions under the GFA in October 2002.

Book References:
Cochrane, Feargal. (2001), Unionist Politics and the Politics of Unionism since the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Cork: Cork University Press.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/mmcgimpsey.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 20 December 2002]


McGrady, ('Eddie') Edward Kevin (b. 3 June 1935)
Politician; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MP 1987-present

A native of Downpatrick, County Down, Eddie McGrady was educated at St Patrick's Grammar School, Downpatrick, before finishing his studies at Belfast Technical College. McGrady then began work in his family's accountancy practice, later qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and becoming a partner in the firm. His first involvement in politics came in the early 1960s as an Independent nationalist councillor on Downpatrick Urban Council (1961-73) and he also went onto act as its Chairman (1964-73). Towards the end of the 1960s McGrady participated in the civil rights movement and immediately upon the formation of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in August 1970 he joined the party. Within a short period of time he quickly established himself within the ranks of the SDLP and was to serve as its first chairman (1971-73). At the party's entry into electoral politics in Northern Ireland at the local government elections in May 1973 he was returned as a member of Down District Council (1973-89) and later served a term as Chairman (1974-75). In June 1973 he was elected as a member of the SDLP to the Northern Ireland Assembly for the constituency of South Down (1973-74) and went onto be appointed as Head of the Department of Executive Planning and Co-ordination in the power-sharing administration of 1974 (January - May 1974). He was also to be returned again in May 1975 for South Down to the Constitutional Convention and sat in this body until it was dissolved in 1976 without any agreement as to how political progress could be made in Northern Ireland.

Over the next few years McGrady concentrated his efforts in attempting to win the Westminster seat of South Down. Initially however success proved illusive and he failed at the general elections of 1979 and 1983, as well as the by-election of January 1986. Finally at his fourth attempt in the general election of 1987 he was to succeed and has held the seat since (1987-present). This new role added to his public profile and he became particularly prominent issues such as the campaign to close the Sellafield nuclear plant in England. In addition McGrady took part in the all-party talks over the period 1991 to 1992 which ended without succeeding in breaking the political stalemate. Within the party itself he is one to be one of the senior figures to voice their scepticism over the discussions that were to develop after 1988 between John Hume, then leader of the SDLP, and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

In May 1996 McGrady's election to the Northern Ireland Forum for the constituency of South Down (1996-98) saw him become a delegate at the multi-party talks that were to culminate with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998. Then in June 1998 he was again returned to represent South Down in the Northern Ireland Assembly (1998-2003). In December 1998, in the absence of the SDLP's deputy leader Seamus Mallon, McGrady was to take charge of his party's negotiating teams at the efforts to establish the exact form of the political structures under the GFA. This was to end in an agreement to create ten ministerial departments within the power-sharing executive as well as the formation of six North-South bodies to regulate relations between Belfast and Dublin. With the decision of the SDLP to take their seats in November 2001 on the new Policing Board in Northern Ireland McGrady was one of his party's three nominees to this body. He chose to stand down from the Northern Ireland Assembly and did not contest his seat at the election in November 2003.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Murray, Gerard. (1998), John Hume and the SDLP: Impact and Survival in Northern Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press
Web Sources:
http://www.politicallinks.co.uk/POLITICS2/BIOG/MP_BIOGS/bio.asp?id=202
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/emcgrady.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
http://www.rte.ie/news/features/westminster_election/constituencies/sth_down.html
http://www.sdlp.ie/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2070165.stm
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 20 December 2002]


McGuinness, Martin James (b. 23 May 1950)
Politician; Republican Activist; Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF) 1983-present; SF MP 1997-present

Martin McGuinness was born in Derry and educated locally. He left school at the age of fifteen without any formal qualifications to begin work as a butcher's assistant. Following the widespread unrest in Northern Ireland in the wake of the emergence of the civil rights movement at the end of the 1960s, McGuinness became involved in the republican movement. Within a short period of time he had gone onto establish himself as a senior member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), assuming the position of 2nd in command in Derry. His wider influence within its ranks was also made clear when in July 1972 he travelled with a IRA delegation to London to meet William Whitelaw, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, during the PIRA ceasefire of 1972. Although McGuinness was not to be interned in the early 1970s he was later to be imprisoned briefly on a number of occasions in the Republic of Ireland on charges relating to IRA activities. It was later alleged that he then went on to become Chief of Staff of the IRA, but this is a charge that he has always denied.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s McGuinness then emerged along with others, most notably Gerry Adams, to lead a sustained effort to encourage the republican movement to develop a clear and coherent political strategy. The first clear indication of this came in October 1982 when he was one of five Sinn Féin (SF) candidates elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly (1982-86). Although he was returned for the constituency of Foyle (1982-86), in line with party policy at the time he refused to take his seat in this new body. A year later in 1983 further proof of the growing influence of the Adams/McGuinness faction within SF came when they assumed the top positions within the party, with Adams becoming President and McGuinness as Vice-President (1983-present).

Over the next years he was to play a crucial role in persuading internal sceptics that it was essential for the party to establish itself as a major electoral force in order to advance the Republican position. As a result at the 1986 SF Ard Fheis he was to give one of the key addresses to delegates as to why SF should abandon its traditional policy of not taking its seats in the Dáil. Once this was successfully achieved in 1986 the next initiative undertaken was an attempt at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s to convince SF's political opponents that the party was committed to trying to secure a peaceful solution to the ongoing unrest in Northern Ireland. As a result McGuinness participated in the series of discussions held between Gerry Adams and John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), in order to see if Northern nationalists could agree upon a strategy to break the political stalemate. Whilst these talks were taking place it was also later revealed that he was at the centre of secret contacts between the republican movement and the British government as both sides explored the possibility of seeking a political solution.

Following the IRA ceasefire of August 1994 McGuinness led the SF delegation in preliminary negotiations with British officials. When these later got bogged down and failed to lead to the immediate calling of all-party talks he warned of the pressures being placed on the ceasefire. When the ceasefire broke down in February 1996 McGuinness laid the blame firmly on the authorities in London whilst also stressing SF's continued commitment to the 'Peace Process'. At this juncture the party's fortunes were to improved considerably as the earlier work in developing its electoral strength now began to reap significant benefits. In the elections to the Northern Ireland Forum in May 1996 McGuinness and SF were to poll well and he himself was returned to this body (1996-98) as a representative of the Mid Ulster constituency. A year later at the Westminster election of May 1997 he was to cause a major upset when he was elected as the new MP for Mid Ulster (1997-present). These successes appeared to strengthen the position of Adams/McGuinness within the republican movement and in August 1997 came the decision of the IRA to restore its ceasefire. In the wake of this move, SF was then finally invited to join the all-party talks in September 1997.

At the talks McGuinness was to be the party's chief negotiator and took a full part in the process which was to culminate with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998. Although SF did not immediately sign up to the GFA, once again McGuinness was to play a prominent a part in convincing sceptical members to vote to accept it at a special Ard Fheis in May 1998. At the election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 he was returned as a representative for the Mid Ulster constituency (1998-present). Along with his party leader he has continued to be at the forefront of the efforts to ensure the full implementation of the GFA. Later he was also appointed to act as the republican movement's point of contact with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). In addition to these roles, following the establishment of the power-sharing Executive under the GFA in November 1999, McGuinness was nominated by his party as the Minister of Education. He was to hold this post until the suspension of the institutions of the GFA in October 2002.

Book References:
Clarke, Liam and Johnson, Kathryn. (2001), Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government. London: Mainstream.
De Breadun, Deaglan. (2001), The Far Side of Revenge. Dublin: The Collins Press.
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (2000), The Northern Ireland Peace Process: Ending the Troubles. London: Gill & Macmillan
Moloney, Ed. (2002), A Secret History of the IRA. London: Penguin Press.
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Web Sources:
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/mmcguinness.htm
http://www.politicallinks.co.uk/POLITICS2/BIOG/MP_BIOGS/bio.asp?id=594
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1303355.stm
http://www.sinnfein.ie/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/northern_ireland/understanding/profiles/martin_mcguinness.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/1170144.stm
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 20 December 2002]


McIvor, ('William') Basil (b. 17 June 1928)
Politician; Unionist MP (Stormont); Northern Ireland Executive Minister January-May 1974

Basil McIvor graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a law degree and pursued a legal career before being called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1950. McIvor first came to political prominence in 1969 when he was elected to the Stormont parliament as Unionist MP for the constituency of Larkfield (1969-72). Initially he was a firm supporter of Captain Terence O'Neill, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and supported O'Neill's attempts to address the concerns of the civil rights movement by introducing a package of reforms. After O'Neill's decision to resign in April 1969 McIvor continued to call for the Unionist leadership to seek to maintain this approach and late in 1971 entered the Northern Ireland cabinet as Minister of Community Relations (October 1971 - March 1972). After the imposition of direct rule in March 1972 he chose to refrain from attacking William Whitelaw, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and went onto support the line taken by Brian Faulkner, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). As a result he accompanied Faulkner at the talks that were to lead to the establishment of a power-sharing Executive for Northern Ireland alongside the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement.

Elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1973 for the constituency of South Belfast, he was appointed to the Executive (January-May 1974) and was to serve as Head of the Department of Education. His plans however to introduce a scheme whereby Protestant and Catholic pupils would be educated in the same schools failed to materialise with the collapse of the Executive in May 1974. This marked the end of his active involvement in politics and in 1976 he was appointed as a Resident Magistrate (1976-93). However McIvor maintained an interest in educational matters and in 1981 he was appointed the Chairman of Lagan College, the first integrated school in Northern Ireland.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
McIvor, Basil. (1998), Hope Deferred: Experiences of an Irish Unionist. Belfast: Blackstaff.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 24 March 2003]


McKeown, Ciaran (b. 24 December 1943)
Peace Activist; Journalist

In 1976 along with Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, Ciaran McKewon helped to establish the Peace People which began to organise a series of public rallies across Northern Ireland to try to bring an end to violence. For a time it attracted a great deal of support but then began to face internal problems amongst its leadership concerning major differences over its future policy. The situation was further exacerbated after the rewarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 to Corrigan and Williams as they differed fundamentally as to how their prize money should be used as well as over general strategy. Amidst this dispute McKeown continued to work full-time for the Peace People and for a time edited its newspaper. In the early 1980s he severed his ties with the organisation and returned to his career as a journalist.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Fairmichael, Rob. (1987) The Peace People Experience. Belfast: Dawn.
Hennessey, Thomas. (1997), A History of Northern Ireland 1920-1996. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
McKeown, Ciaran. (1984), The Passion of Peace. Belfast: Blackstaff.
McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 30 March 2003]


McLaughlin, Mitchel (b. 29 October 1945)
Politician; Sinn Féin (SF) MLA

A native of Derry Mitchel McLaughlin was educated locally at Long Tower Boys School and the Christian Brothers' Technical College before starting work as a refrigeration engineer. His first involvement with political activity came in the late 1960s when he took part in the civil rights campaign but he later became associated with the Republican movement. Initially in the wake of the split in republican ranks, he sided with the 'Official' movement in Derry before over time transferring his allegiance to the 'Provisional' movement.

By the mid 1980s McLaughlin had emerged as a close and trusted ally of Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF). As such he gave his full backing to the efforts by Adams and others to develop the party's electoral base as well its attempt to convince others of SF's commitment to finding a political solution to the ongoing difficulties in Northern Ireland. For example he was to accompany his party leader throughout the series of talks held between Adams and John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which commenced in 1988. In addition McLaughlin's profile within the party was increased with his appointment as its National Chairman and in this position he was frequently to be seen as the public face of SF as the momentum of the 'Peace Process' developed in the early 1990s. He also took on the role of the party's Westminster candidate in the constituency of Foyle and although unsuccessful in 1997 and 2001 did help to continue to build SF's electoral strength.

In May 1996 he was elected as one of the representatives for the Foyle constituency in the Northern Ireland Forum (1996-98) and when SF were invited to participate in the all-party negotiations in September 1997 he was included in its delegation. With the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998, McLaughlin urged the republican grassroots to back the GFA. As such he supported the decision by SF to take their seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly and he himself was returned to this body in the election of May 1998 as one of the representatives for Foyle (1998-present). With his prominent position within the party he has taken part in the series of discussions that have followed in the attempt to secure the full implementation of the GFA.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Hennessey, Thomas. (2000), The Northern Ireland Peace Process: Ending the Troubles. London: Gill & Macmillan.
Moloney, Ed. (2002), A Secret History of the IRA. London: Penguin Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/mmclaughlin.htm
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/vote2001/candidates/candidates/2/25805.stm
[Entry written by B. Lynn - 20 December 2002]


McMichael, Gary (b. 1969)
Politician; Loyalist Activist; Leader of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) 1994-2001

Gary McMichael was born in a working-class area of Lisburn and educated locally. His first involvement in political activity came after the killing of his father, John McMichael, then a leading spokesman of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). In 1988 Gary McMichael joined the Ulster Loyalist Democratic Party (ULDP), which was associated with the UDA as well as the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), and remained as a member when it changed its name in 1989 to the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP). McMichael quickly rose through the ranks of the UDP to become party leader in and was present when the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) declared its ceasefire in October 1994.

With developments in the 'Peace Process' he became associated with the attempts of the UDP to portray itself as a new and more constructive form of unionism. As such he was prepared to meet with republicans and to urge for the restoration of some form of devolved government back to Northern Ireland. Initially this brought the UDP some rewards and the party managed to secure representation in May 1996 to the Northern Ireland Forum which then allowed it to take part in the ensuing multi-party talks. During these McMichael led the UDP's delegation, remaining in the negotiations even after Sinn Féin joined them in September 1997. His increasing profile was also to see him returned at the local government elections of May 1997 as a UDP councillor in Lisburn (1997-2001).

The UDP then signed up to the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998 and campaigned for a 'Yes' vote in the subsequent referendum campaign in May 1998. However in the elections that followed in June 1998, the UDP suffered a major setback when it failed to win a seat in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. Although McMichael remained committed to supporting the GFA his party now faced a difficult situation. Not only had it lost its political influence but those elements within the loyalist paramilitary groups who had once supported the party began to withdraw their support from the GFA. If anything the UDP became increasingly sidelined and matters got worse when it became embroiled in an internal loyalist feud in 2000. As a result the party was unable to field any candidates at either the Westminster or local government elections of June 2001. This led to McMichael severing his connections with the UDP and completely withdrawing from politics.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
McMichael, Gary. (1999), Ulster Voice: In Search of Common Ground in Northern Ireland. Colorado: Roberts Rinehart.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/northern_ireland/understanding/profiles/gary_mcmichael.stm
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 20 December 2002]


McNamara, Kevin Joseph (b. 5 September 1934)
Politician; Labour Party MP; Labour Spokesman on Northern Ireland (1987-94)

In 1966 Kevin McNamara was elected as Labour MP for Kingston-upon-Hull North (1966-74) and later went onto represent the constituencies of Kingston-upon-Hull Central (1974-83) and Hull North (1983-present). His interest in the affairs of Northern Ireland began soon after he became an MP and McNamara took an interest in the claims of alleged discrimination by the Unionist authorities against the minority Catholic community. Soon this led to him associating himself, along with many other Labour MPs at Westminster, with the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU). With this background Unionists viewed him with great suspicion and his appointment in 1987 as Labour spokesman on Northern Ireland (1987-94) was widely criticised by them. In addition their hostility to him was only added too with his public commitment to work towards securing Irish unity by consent in line with Labour Party policy at the time. In 1994 he was replaced as Labour's spokesperson on Northern Ireland affairs by Tony Blair, who had just become the new party leader. This was widely seen as significant in marking a change in Labour policy towards Ireland, away from its stated aim to work for unity by consent towards a more neutral stance on the issue.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney., and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/vote2001/candidates/candidates/3/33103.stm
http://www.politicallinks.co.uk/politics2/BIOG/MP_BIOGS/bio.asp?id=0331
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 26 March 2003]


McWilliams, Monica (b. 28 April 1954)
Politician; Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (NIWC) MLA; Leader of the NIWC 1998-present

Monica McWilliams was born in Kilrea, County Derry, and educated at Loretto College, Coleraine, before going onto Queen's University Belfast, and the University of Michigan in the United Sates of America. McWilliams then pursued a career as a university lecturer and later became Professor of Women's Studies and Social Policy at the University of Ulster. In early 1996 she helped to establish the Northern Ireland Woman's Coalition (NIWC) and in May 1996 was returned along with one of her party colleagues to the Northern Ireland Forum (1996-98). This enabled the NIWC to participate in the multi-party talks that commenced in June 1996 and which culminated in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in April 1998. In the subsequent referendum campaign in May 1998 she actively campaigned for a 'Yes' vote. A month later in June 1998 she was elected to the new Northern Ireland Assembly as one of the representatives for the constituency of Belfast South (1998-2003). Then when the NIWC held its first party conference in November 1998 McWilliams was chosen as its leader. As such she has led the NIWC at the series of negotiations that have taken place in order to try to secure the full implementation of the GFA. At the election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in November 2003 McWilliams lost her seat.

Book References:
Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Fearon, Kate. (1999), Women's Work: The Story of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
Web Sources:
http://www.ni-assembly.gov.uk/members/biogs/mmcwilliams.htm
http://www.niwc.org/reps.asp
http://www.stratagem-ni.org/
[Entry written by B.Lynn - 20 December 2002; updated 9 june 2004]


Notes:
The information has been compiled from numerous primary and secondary sources.
The best general sources for additional information are:
  • Elliott, Sydney. and Flackes, W.D. (1999), Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, 1968-1999. Belfast: Blackstaff Press.
  • McRedmond, Louis. (ed.) (1998), Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
  • Ramsden, John. (ed.) (2002), The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    For related and background information see also:
  • The list of acronyms associated with 'the Troubles'
  • The glossary of terms related to the conflict
  • The abstracts on prominent organisations
  • The chronology of the conflict

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    CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
    CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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