Frank Maguire (politician)

For the Scottish solicitor, see Frank Maguire (solicitor).
Frank Maguire
Member of Parliament
for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
In office
10 October 1974  5 March 1981
Preceded by Harry West
Succeeded by Bobby Sands
Majority 4,987 (51.8%)
Personal details
Born (1929-09-02)2 September 1929
Gort, Galway, Ireland
Died 5 March 1981(1981-03-05) (aged 51)
Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Independent
Religion Roman Catholicism

Meredith Francis Maguire (2 September 1929 – 5 March 1981)[1] was an Irish Republican who became an Independent Member of the British Parliament. Born into an Irish Republican family, he was interned during his youth for Irish Republican Army activities; while he later opposed violence, he remained close to the Republican movement. He was running Frank's Bar, a public house in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh, when in October 1974 he was elected as a unity candidate to represent Fermanagh and South Tyrone. While not an abstentionist, Maguire's attendances at Westminster were infrequent and he never made a full speech, but he did cast some crucial votes to support the Labour government of the 1970s. He is famous for "abstaining in person" in the no confidence vote which brought it down by a single vote.

Early life

Born in Gort, County Galway and educated in Athlone, Maguire worked in his youth in a pub owned by his uncle, future Nationalist Party politician John Carron. He was attracted to the cause of Irish Republicanism and was interned without trial in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast for two years, within which he was the Irish Republican Army Commanding Officer. After his release, he opposed violence and became a pub landlord himself. He did remain associated with Sinn Féin.[2]

Political career

In the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency, there was a close balance between Irish Nationalist and Republican, and Unionist voters. In the February 1974 UK general election, the Nationalist/Republican vote was split between a Unity and a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) candidate leading to victory for the Ulster Unionist Party candidate. With the aim of fielding a single candidate, discussions among nationalist and republicans in the constituencies agreed Maguire as a joint candidate - in what has been termed the spirit of the Unity movement.

Election to UK Parliament

Maguire was elected in the October 1974 general election with more than half the vote. On 31 October 1974 he swore the Oath of Allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.[3] Although not an abstentionist, he rarely attended the House of Commons. He did attend for the 1979 vote of no confidence in the government of James Callaghan to, as he wryly told a journalist, "abstain in person".[4]

In the resulting 1979 general election, Maguire was re-elected against opposition candidates from the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party, and the United Ulster Unionist Party.


Maguire's death in 1981 (due to heart attack) produced a by-election which was won by Bobby Sands, an IRA hunger striker who would ultimately die within a month of being elected.[5]

See also


  1. Roth, Andrew (1979). The MPs' Chart. Parliamentary Profiles. p. 78. ISBN 0900582170.
  2. David Beresford, Ten Men Dead
  3. Journal of the House of Commons, Session 1974-75, p. 36
  4. Mount, Ferdinand (7 April 1979). "The boycott and the bomb". The Spectator. 242 (7865): 4.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harry West
Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Oct 19741981
Succeeded by
Bobby Sands
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