West Belfast Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Pat Sheehan MLA

Pat Sheehan

Pat Sheehan

Pat Sheehan, a 52-year-old Gaeilgeoir, is a former republican hunger striker from the Falls Road in west Belfast. He is the widower of Sinn Féin activist Siobhan O'Hanlon, who passed away from cancer in 2006. Pat is the father of their eleven-year-old son.

In 1978, when Pat was 19, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail for IRA activity and entered the H-Blocks in Long Kesh. He participated in the 1980 hunger strike for political status by republican prisoners in the H-Blocks and Armagh women's jail and was on hunger strike for five days before the protest ended.

Pat was 23 years old when he became the 17th H-Block prisoner to join the second Hunger Strike on August 10 1981. When the fast ended in October that year, Pat had gone 55 days without food.

In 1987 he was released but was again imprisoned for IRA activity in 1989, this time being sentenced to 24 years in jail. Pat was released from prison in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

During his second period in jail Pat received a degree in Philosophy and Politics with First Class Honours. He became active in Sinn Féin in west Belfast and has worked on a variety of projects. He worked for the Belfast Sinn Féin Recruitment Department from 2006 to 2008.

Pat is currently the head of Sinn Féin's Middle East Desk in the party's International Affairs Committee. He has travelled to the Middle East on a number of occasions to outline the lessons of the Irish peace process and engage in discussions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The Sheehan family has a long tradition of involvement with the GAA and has been involved with St Galls GAC since its foundation 100 years ago.

Pat himself remains an active member of St Galls GAC - the current All-Ireland football champions. During his sporting career, he played football for Antrim. He captained the county to an Ulster vocational school championship title and has Club championship medals in football and hurling.

Pat now works for the republican ex-prisoners organisation, Coiste na n-Iarchími as Legacy Coordinator. His work involves dealing with legacy issues such as campaigning for justice for victims of torture in jail. He is also involved in projects providing support for ex-prisoners who are suffering from emotional and/or health problems as a result of their imprisonment. He sits on the Board of Healing Through Remembrance, a forum for exploring truth recovery processes.

Pat is the Sinn Féin national coordinator of the 1980/81 Commemoration Committee which is organising commemorations around the country this year and next to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1980 and 1981 Hunger Strikes.