01 February 2006

Ruairi Brugha had 'a deep sense of patriotism'

Irish Examiner

By Harry McGee, Political Editor
01/02/06

RUAIRI BRUGHA, the former Fianna Fáil TD and MEP who died yesterday, was described by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as a person with a real passion for politics and a deep sense of patriotism.

The Taoiseach said during his political career Mr Brugha “immersed himself in the very noble task of fostering reconciliation and promoting greater North-South understanding”.

Born in 1918, Mr Brugha was the only son of prominent republican Cathal Brugha and his wife Caitlín.

Both his parents were Sinn Féin TDs and his father was Minister for Defence in the Government of the first Dáil. An opponent of the Treaty, he was killed during the Civil War.

Mr Brugha married Máire McSwiney in 1945. She was the daughter of Terence McSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork who died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison in 1920.

In 1948, Mr Brugha stood unsuccessfully for Clann na Poblachta in Waterford but then fell out with the party leadership. He later joined Fianna Fáil and stood for the party for the first time in 1969. Although he failed to win a seat then, he became a TD in 1973.

Four years later, he lost his seat, despite Fianna Fáil recording a landslide victory. However, two years later he was among the first Irish MEPs to be elected to the European Parliament, where he served one term.

He returned to the Oireachtas as a senator in the 1980s. He retained a lifelong interest in Europe and was honorary president of the European Movement in Ireland.

Yesterday, Mr Ahern said: “I last met Ruairi in October when I had the pleasure of launching History’s Daughter, the remarkable memoir written by his wife Máire MacSwiney Brugha.”

Mr Brugha is survived by his wife Máire and an extended family.

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