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4 March 2023

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Former An Phoblacht Editor Rita O’Hare has passed away

Former An Phoblacht Editor and Sinn Féin General Secretary Rita O’Hare has passed away.

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has said:

“I am deeply saddened to announce the death of Rita O’Hare, who passed away at her home in Dublin last night. On my own behalf and that of Sinn Féin, I wish to offer heartfelt condolences to Brendan and to all the family. Ireland has lost a genuine patriot. Sinn Féin has lost a talented and valued comrade and we have all lost a very special and very dear friend. Suaimhneas sioraí dá hAnam.”

Rita 58

  • Rita first took over as An Phoblacht editor in 1985, following the death of  Mick Timothy.

“I am deeply saddened by the news that Rita O’Hare - a powerhouse within Sinn Féin and the Irish republican struggle - has died. It is a sad day for Republicans throughout the length and breadth of Ireland and for Rita’s many friends beyond these shores, particularly in the United States. But above all, this is a devastating loss for Rita’s husband Brendan, her children Terry, Frances, Rory and Ciaran, her grandchildren, great grandchildren, her brother Alan and members of the wider family.”

Rita O’Hare had been an influential Republican activist for decades and an important figure in the Irish Peace Process. An integral part of the Sinn Féin leadership at important stages of the party’s development and during era-defining stages of the Peace Process, Rita worked with great drive, energy and ability for the unity of Ireland, for a more just society, and for the cause of peace and reconciliation.

Rita with Obama

  • Rita with former US President Barack Obama and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams

A highly intelligent and strategic political thinker, Rita was also an articulate communicator and skilled publicist who was to the fore in pushing the boundaries, allowing Sinn Féin to develop into the modern, successful and popular political party that it is today. Rita’s key role in these developments will be her enduring political legacy.

Rita Nelson Mandela

  • Rita O'Hare (right) on a Sinn Féin delegate to South Africa in 1995 alongside South African President Nelson Mandela

Rita was born and raised in Belfast, at a time when the north was an apartheid state, defined by sectarian discrimination and the marginalisation and oppression of the nationalist community. Her mother Maureen came from the nationalist Ballymacarett (Short Strand) area in East Belfast, while her father Billy was a socialist and internationalist who was born a Protestant in East Belfast to an English father and Welsh mother.

Rita became involved in the Civil Rights campaign and later in Republican resistance to British state repression. Forced to go ‘on the run’ in the early 1970s, for her active opposition to British rule and military aggression, Rita later settled with her family in Dublin. She remained a dedicated and committed Republican activist and was imprisoned for three years in this state for her republican activities. A British attempt to have Rita extradited was blocked by the High Court in 1978 when it ruled that her alleged offences were clearly political.

Over subsequent years, Rita served as Editor of An Phoblacht; Sinn Féin Director of Publicity; General Secretary; and Party Representative to the United States. She was a key figure in building and sustaining US support during crucial years of the Peace Process, working with the representatives of various US administrations. She was a tireless, assiduous and effective worker and in whatever capacity she served, she encouraged the highest standards among her colleagues.

Rita Máire Comerford

  • Rita with fellow Republican Revolutionary Máire Comerford

Rita was also a loving partner, mother, grandmother and great grandmother who was immensely proud of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. On my own behalf and that of Sinn Féin, I wish to offer heartfelt condolences to Brendan and to all the family.

Ireland has lost a genuine patriot. Sinn Féin has lost a talented and valued comrade and we have all lost a very special and very dear friend. Suaimhneas sioraí dá hAnam.

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