Seán Garland

Seán Garland bigraphy, stories - Irish republican turned Marxist

Seán Garland : biography

7 March 1934 –

Seán Garland (born 7 March 1934) is a former President of the Workers’ Party in Ireland.

Extradition fight

On 7 October 2005, Garland was arrested in Belfast on foot of an extradition application issued by the US authorities. He had been attending the Workers’ Party Ardfheis/Annual Conference at the time. The United States authorities alleged that Garland had been involved in the distribution and resale of counterfeited US dollars – so-called "superdollars" or "supernotes" – in 1998. They also alleged that the source of the banknotes was the government of North Korea.US Department of Justice press release 8 October 2005BBC 13 October 2005 Garland was released on bail.

A campaign was then launched against the US extradition attempt. His supporters claimed the U.S. waited for Garland to travel north of the Irish border before seeking his extradition, believing the United Kingdom authorities would be more willing to acquiesce than those in the Republic of Ireland. briefing No.1 point 5 In June 2007 the Irish edition of the Mail on Sunday speculated that there was evidence that the affair was a US plot to provide a pretext for a military attack on North Korea Irish Mail on Sunday, 24 June 2007

On 9 October 2005, a Sunday Times article alleged that Garland became chief of staff of the largely inactive Official IRA in 1998.Liam Clarke 9 October 2005

On 1 December, the High Court in Belfast issued a warrant for Garland’s arrest after he failed to appear for an extradition hearing. On 1 April 2006, Garland was unanimously re-elected as President of The Workers’ Party and in a keynote address to the party membership gathered in Dublin he vowed to fight any attempt to extradite him to the United States. In 2008 he announced his intention to retire from the presidency and was replaced in the position on 17 May 2008 by Mick Finnegan. Garland remained a member of the party’s Central Executive Committee and was its National Treasurer.

Seán Garland (right) with Tomás MacGiolla, May 2008

Garland was subsequently arrested in Dublin in 2009 and the application by the U.S. to extradite him was heard in 2011.

The campaign against his extradition continued, bringing in a number of prominent individuals from outside the Workers’ Party including its Honorary Chairman the Rev. Chris Hudson. It sought and received support from numerous political figures from across the spectrum in Ireland, the United Kingdom and further afield. Among these were dozens of members of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament), MEPs and local politicians. Garland also received support from the entertainment industry including musicians Pete Seeger, Christy Moore, Alabama 3 and John Spillane. Garland’s supporters pointed out that the 77-year-old had been diagnosed from a number of serious medical conditions including diabetes and bowel cancer.

On 21 December 2011, Justice John Edwards in the High Court dismissed the US application for Garland’s extradition. Justice Edwards told the court he was not disposed to grant the application and would furnish his reasons for doing so later.

On 27 January 2012, Justice Edwards stated that since the offence for which the US wanted to extradite was regarded as having been committed in Ireland the Court was prohibited from extraditing Garland. He was therefore obliged to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions who would consider whether there was a case for prosecuting Garland in Ireland.

On 29 May 2012, Garland spoke at the funeral of his comrade Noel Cullen, alongside Cullens son Jake. Noel Cullen was a key figure in The Workers Party who died of cancer at the age of 52. Garland spoke on his friends passion, humanity, and quest for knowledge before handing Jake a starry plough, and an Irish flag.

Early life

Born at Belvedere Place, off Mountjoy Square in Dublin, Garland joined the Irish Republican Army in 1953. In 1954, he briefly joined the British Army as an IRA agent and collected intelligence on Gough Barracks in Armagh and supplied it to the IRA in Dublin.Hanley and Miller, p. 9 This enabled the IRA to carry out a successful arms raid on 12 June 1954, with Garland’s active involvement on the base. Garland deserted from the British army in October of the same year, before his regiment was due to depart for Kenya.Hanley and Miller, p. 9 He became a full-time IRA training officer.