Seamus Mallon
Mallon in 1998
Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
In office
1 July 1998 – 6 November 2001
Serving with David Trimble
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMark Durkan
Member of the Legislative Assembly
for Newry and Armagh
In office
25 June 1998 – 26 November 2003
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byDominic Bradley
Member of Parliament
for Newry and Armagh
In office
23 January 1986 – 11 April 2005
Preceded byJim Nicholson
Succeeded byConor Murphy
Senator
In office
18 February 1982 – 24 November 1982
TaoiseachCharles Haughey
ConstituencyNominated by the Taoiseach
Personal details
Born
Seamus Frederick Mallon

(1936-08-17)17 August 1936
Markethill, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Died24 January 2020(2020-01-24) (aged 83)
Markethill, Northern Ireland
Political partySDLP
Spouse
Gertrude Cush
(died 2016)
Children1
Education
Alma materSt Mary's University College
ProfessionTeacher

Seamus Frederick Mallon (/ˈʃməs ˈmælən/; 17 August 1936 – 24 January 2020) was an Irish politician who served as deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2001 and Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) from 1979 to 2001.

Background

Seamus Mallon was born in the largely Protestant village of Markethill to Jane (née O'Flaherty) and Francis Mallon, and was educated at the Abbey Christian Brothers Grammar School in Newry and St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh. He came from a family of Republicans, and his father was a former IRA man who had fought in the Irish Civil War.[1] His mother, Jane, also from a Republican family, was from Castlefin, a village in the east of County Donegal.[2]

He trained to be a teacher at St Mary's University College, Belfast. As a career he (like his father) chose teaching, and became headmaster of St James's Primary School in Markethill.[3] Mallon was also involved in the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), playing Gaelic football for the Armagh county team. He first played club football for Middletown during the 1950s then with Keady Dwyers, Queen's University and Crossmaglen Rangers.[4]

He was also involved in amateur drama and wrote a play which won an All-Ireland amateur drama play award.[5]

Introduction to politics

During the 1960s, Mallon was involved in the civil rights movement,[6] especially in his native County Armagh. He first got involved in the 1960s when trying to help a man and his family secure a council house, but was told by a local unionist councillor that "No Catholic pig or his litter will get a house here as long as I am here."[7]

In 1979, when John Hume went from being deputy leader of the SDLP (under Gerry Fitt) to leader, Mallon became deputy leader.[6] He was elected to the first power-sharing Assembly in 1973, and to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention in 1975[3] representing Armagh. Between May and December 1982 he was appointed by the then Taoiseach Charles Haughey to the Republic's upper house, Seanad Éireann.[8]

Mallon was a strong advocate of non-violent nationalism, and opposed political violence. In an interview with Eilis O'Hanlon he recalled seeing his own close friend's dead body after being murdered by loyalists and having witnessed two RUC members bleeding to death after being murdered in an IRA ambush in Markethill.[9]

1982 Assembly and Westminster

In 1982, Mallon was elected to the new Northern Ireland Assembly, set up as part of then-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Prior's rolling devolution. However, due to his membership of the Seanad he was, following a challenge by Unionist politicians, disqualified.[3][10] Under legislation of the time, no elected member of a British parliament or regional assembly could serve in a parliament outside the United Kingdom or Commonwealth without losing their British seat. That restriction was removed with regard to the Oireachtas by the Disqualifications Act 2000.

In 1986, he was elected to Westminster as an MP for Newry and Armagh, a seat he held until 2005. In a 1993 parliamentary debate on anti-terrorism legislation Mallon addressed the ineffectiveness of these types of legislation: "From the very day and hour that the state was formed it has been sustained by draconian emergency legislation, military might, soldiers, not one police service but on certain occasions two and on others three, and by the inpouring of billions of pounds--according to the Secretary of State, £3.5 billion last year. There is a fundamental question to be asked outside of the legalities of the emergency provisions legislation, of the statistics and of the emotions that it engenders. Where a state or a statelet is formed with the weight of the British Government behind it in military and financial terms and in terms of the emergency provisions legislation, the Prevention of Terrorism Acts and the Special Powers Act and still the problem remains, is there not a fundamental question to ask? Is it not even more fundamental to ask why, after 72 years, all those measures have never brought peace, stability or unity of purpose to the north of Ireland?"[11]

Mallon won the seat in a by-election to replace Jim Nicholson, who had resigned his seat in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement, along with all the other Northern Irish unionist MPs.[6] Nicholson was the only MP to fail to be re-elected.[12]

Peace process and 1998 Assembly

Mallon was elected to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in 1994. He was a member of the SDLP team at the all-party negotiations (the 'Stormont talks') that opened in Belfast in June 1996.[13] He has frequently been quoted as saying that the Good Friday Agreement, which resulted from the talks in 1998, was "Sunningdale for slow learners".[14][15][16] The Good Friday Agreement led to the setting up of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which was elected in June 1998, with a power-sharing Executive. Mallon was elected as member for Newry and Armagh, and in December 1999 became Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, serving alongside Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble.[17]

Mallon remained a strong opponent of IRA violence,[10] and was also in favour of police reform in Northern Ireland.[18]

Retirement

He retired in 2001, along with John Hume, from the leadership of the SDLP.[19] Mark Durkan replaced both, Hume as leader and Mallon as Deputy First Minister, when the Northern Ireland Executive was re-established following a suspension.[20]

Mallon did not contest his seat in the Stormont Assembly in the 2003 elections, and stood down at the 2005 Westminster election. Dominic Bradley was nominated to contest the seat Mallon vacated, but failed to re-capture the seat as Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin won.[21]

Mallon was conferred with the Freedom of Drogheda in 2018.[22]

His autobiography, A Shared Home Place, written with Andy Pollak, was published in 2019.[23]

In retirement, Mallon spent much of his time in County Donegal, his mother's native county.[2]

Personal life

During his time in politics, Mallon lived in his hometown of Markethill, in a house with bulletproof windows installed.[1]

He was a lifelong smoker and drinker who suffered from heart problems throughout his life, having his first heart attack in 1980.[1]

His wife Gertrude (née Cush) died in October 2016.[24] Their daughter Órla is married with one child.

Mallon had retired to his second home in County Donegal for a while, but when his wife's health began to fail he moved back to Markethill to care for her, and continued to live in Markethill after her death.[25]

Mallon died at his home in Markethill on 24 January 2020, aged 83. He had been treated for cancer before his death.[26][27] SDLP Stormont leader, Nichola Mallon (no relation) paid tribute to Seamus Mallon in the Assembly; describing him as "a man of peace" and "an Irish political giant".[28] Many world leaders paid tribute to Mallon after his death. Former US president Bill Clinton paid tribute by saying "Seamus never wavered from his vision for a shared future where neighbors of all faiths could live in dignity, or from the belief he shared with John Hume and the entire SDLP that nonviolence was the only way to reach that goal."[29]

References

  1. ^ a b c McHardy, Anne (24 January 2020). "Seamus Mallon obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b Gorman, Tommie (24 January 2020). "Seamus Mallon: Gone gently into the good night". RTÉ.
  3. ^ a b c "Key players". The Daily Telegraph. 25 October 2001. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  4. ^ "Seamus Mallon". Oral History. 3 February 2011. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Gerry Moriarty, The Two Big Beasts of the SDLP". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Seamus Mallon: SDLP deputy leader". BBC News. 15 March 2001. Archived from the original on 2 June 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  7. ^ Moriarty, Gerry. "Seamus Mallon has hope for party he gave his life to". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Seamus Mallon". Oireachtas Members Database. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  9. ^ O'Hanlon, Eilis. "Seamus Mallon, an honest Ulsterman". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 June 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Seamus Mallon: Forceful Northern politician who denounced IRA violence". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  11. ^ Mallon, Seamus (8 June 1993). Debate (Speech). House of Commons Hansard Debates. Column 182. Retrieved 20 August 2022.((cite speech)): CS1 maint: location (link)
  12. ^ "ElectionsIreland.org: By Election – Newry and Armagh First Preference Votes". electionsireland.org. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Members of the Forum". Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. Archived from the original on 4 May 1999. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Trimble survival depends on support for deal". The Irish Times. 17 April 1998. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  15. ^ Holland, Mary (12 April 1998). "A very Good Friday". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  16. ^ Downey, James (22 March 2008). "Sad to say, end of Paisley is no reason to chuckle". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  17. ^ "Trimble, Mallon elected leaders of N. Irish Assembly". CNN. 1 July 1998. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  18. ^ Millar, Frank. "Mallon to demand radical changes to Police Bill". The Irish Times.
  19. ^ "Mallon ruled out as SDLP leader". BBC News. 20 September 2001. Archived from the original on 25 December 2002. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  20. ^ "Ex-SDLP leader Mark Durkan to run for Fine Gael in European elections". Belfast Telegraph. Archived from the original on 24 January 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Sinn Fein win Newry and Armagh". BBC News. 6 May 2005. Archived from the original on 14 May 2006. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  22. ^ "Former deputy first minister Mallon receives freedom of Drogheda". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 8 June 2018. Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  23. ^ Gorman, Tommie (24 January 2020). "Seamus Mallon: Gone gently into the good night". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Archived from the original on 25 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  24. ^ "Hundreds of mourners at funeral of Seamus Mallon's wife Gertrude". newsletter.co.uk. 19 October 2016. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  25. ^ "Seamus Mallon has hope for party he gave his life to". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 23 February 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  26. ^ "Former NI deputy first minister Seamus Mallon dies aged 83". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 24 January 2020. Archived from the original on 24 January 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  27. ^ O'Loughlin, Ed (27 January 2020). "Seamus Mallon, Advocate for Peace in Northern Ireland, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 27 January 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Seamus Mallon funeral: Tribute to 'peacemaker' and 'statesman'". BBC. Archived from the original on 28 January 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  29. ^ "Book of condolence opens for former deputy first minister Seamus Mallon". South Wales Guardian. PA News Agency. 25 January 2020. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
Northern Ireland Assembly (1973) New assembly Assembly Member for Armagh 1973–1974 Assembly abolished Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention New convention Member for Armagh 1975–1976 Convention dissolved Northern Ireland Assembly (1982) New assembly MPA for Armagh 1982–1983 Succeeded byJim Speers Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byJim Nicholson Member of Parliament for Newry and Armagh 1986–2005 Succeeded byConor Murphy Northern Ireland Forum New forum Member for Newry and Armagh 1996–1998 Forum dissolved Northern Ireland Assembly New assemblyGood Friday Agreement MLA for Newry and Armagh 1998–2003 Succeeded byDominic Bradley Party political offices Preceded byJohn Hume Deputy Leader of the SDLP 1979–2001 Succeeded byBríd Rodgers Political offices New titleGood Friday Agreement deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland 1998–2001 Succeeded byMark Durkan