George Seawright


George Seawright

George Seawright (died 3 December 1987) was a controversial Unionist politician in Northern Ireland who was killed in the Troubles.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland from a Northern Irish Protestant background, Seawright worked in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast until entering politics as a member of the Democratic Unionist Party.Cite web |url=http://www.ulsternation.org.uk/george_seawright.htm |title=Obituary: George Seawright |work=Ulster Nation website |accessdate=2008-04-07]

Seawright was noted for his fiery rhetoric and was elected to Belfast City Council in 1981 and soon developed a following amongst loyalists. The following year he was elected as the DUP candidate to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

upport for the National Front

Seawright courted controversy throughout his fairly brief career and was targeted for an interview he gave to "Nationalism Today", a journal produced in support of the Political Soldier wing of the National Front, in which he praised the NF, not only for their support for loyalism but also for their stance on race and immigration.

Threats over Irish tricolour

In 1984, following the erection of an Irish tricolour on Whiterock leisure centre he led a group of loyalists wielding legally held handguns to physically remove it. [J. Holland & H. McDonald, "INLA - Deadly Divisions", Dublin: Torc, 1994, p. 306] [ [http://pacemaker.web-spaced.net/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&gid=131569 Picture of the incident] ] Following a heated exchange in which People's Democracy councillor John McAnulty described the British Union Flag as 'a butcher's apron' McAnulty alleged that Seawright had delivered a veiled death threat. He claimed that Seawright had said: 'I have a soft spot for you Mr McAnulty, it's in Milltown Cemetery.'

ectarian abuse

He continued to court controversy when it was claimed that he told a meeting of the Belfast Education and Library Board in 1984 that Catholics who objected to the flying of the Union flag 'are just fenian scum who have been indoctrinated by the Catholic church. Taxpayers money would be better spent on an incinerator and burning the lot of them. Their priests should be thrown in and burnt as well.' Seawright denied making these comments, although they were widely reported by the press at the time. [Belfast Telegraph, P1, 31-5-84]

DUP withdraw support

Following these high-profile political mistakes, the DUP withdrew the party whip from Seawright, although he managed to hold his support base and was returned to the Council in 1985 as an independent under the label 'Protestant Unionist'.

As a candidate for the Westminster elections, Seawright twice contested the North Belfast constituency. In 1983, as a DUP candidate, Seawright finished second with 8,260 votes behind Cecil Walker of the Ulster Unionists, whilst in 1987 he finished third behind Walker and Alban Maginness (Social Democratic and Labour Party) with 5,671 votes as a Protestant Unionist candidate (although the DUP did not contest the seat) due to an electoral pact among Unionist candidates at the time.

Jailed for attacks on Tom King

Seawright further enhanced his notoriety when, on 20 November 1985, he took a leading role in the protests against the visit of the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Tom King to Belfast City Hall, where King was denounced for his part in the Anglo-Irish Agreement and attacked physically by Seawright and other protestors. For his part in the incident Seawright was sentenced to nine months imprisonment in Magilligan prison in October 1986. [ [http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/events/aia/chron.htm Anglo-Irish Agreement - Chronology of Events] ] As a result of this jailing, Seawright was forced to vacate his seat on Belfast City Council. The Workers Party blocked the co-option of his wife Liz, who nevertheless beat the Workers Party by 93% to 7% in the subsequent by-election [http://www.eoni.org.uk/court_by-election_result_8_january_1987.pdf By election result] ] (in which she also stood under the label of Protestant Unionist.) She held the seat in 1989, but lost it in the 1993 local government election. [ [http://www.ark.ac.uk/elections] ]

Death

Following his release, Seawright made plans to regain his seat, although ultimately he was to be assassinated before the opportunity arrived. Martin Dillon alleged in his book "The Dirty War" that Seawright met with representatives of the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) in the Europa Hotel, after being informed by the RUC that he was on an IPLO hit list. It was alleged that during the meeting, Seawright agreed to provide low level information to the IPLO in exchange for his safety. Nonetheless, on 19 November 1987 Seawright was shot whilst he waited in a car near a taxi firm on the Shankill Road (for whom he was due to begin working) by the IPLO, dying of the wounds he suffered on 3 December that same year. [M. Dillon, "The Dirty War]

In August 2006 the Ulster Volunteer Force listed Seawright in a list of its members who were killed during the "Troubles". [ [http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/40Thursday-August-2441-Seawright-named.1717585.jp Seawright named as UVF member] ]

References


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