Kilmainham Gaol text Collection title

John MacEntee

Biography

A native of Belfast, Sean MacEntee joined the Socialist Party of Ireland in 1910 and the Dundalk branch of the Irish Volunteers in 1914. The confusion created by Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order prevented the Dundalk Volunteers from participating in the Easter Rising, though they were involved in an incident in Castlebellingham which resulted in the death of an RIC Constable. MacEntee later joined the GPO garrison on via a circuitous route. He was sentenced to death for his actions during Easter week, but his punishment was commuted to imprisonment and he was released in 1917. Elected as a Sinn Féin MP for Monaghan South, MacEntee also rose to the position of brigadier of the Belfast Brigade during the War of Independence. An opponent of the Anglo-Irish Treaty due to its exclusion of northern nationalists, he was interned by the government in Kilmainham Gaol and Gormanston camp until December 1923. He was elected to the Dáil as a Fianna Fáil candidate in Dublin County in 1927 and was appointed as Minister for Finance when the party came to power in 1932, holding the position throughout the Economic War with Britain until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. He subsequently took on a variety of ministerial portfolios, including a return to Finance, as well as becoming Tánaiste in 1959. He held this position for five years before retiring from politics in 1969.

 

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