The Sean MacBride Story
Dr. Sean MacBride was born on January 26, 1904. His father was Major John MacBride, who was responsible for the Irish Brigade in 1899 which fought for the Boers against the British in the unsuccessful Transvaal (Boer) War of 1899 – 1902.
Major MacBride fought the British at Jacob’s factory during the Easter Week Rebellion. He was sentenced to death by the English and executed at Kilmainham Jail on May 5, 1916. The mother of Sean MacBride was Maud Gonne MacBride, a beauty and one of the strongest advocates of Irish Nationalism. W. B. Yeats idolized her in many of his poems.
Sean MacBride grew up in France but finally was able to permanently return to Ireland with his mother in 1918. He immediately joined the Fianna. In 1921, he was with Michael Collins in London during the negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
When the treaty was ratified in 1922, Sean MacBride exhibited his Anti-Treaty philosophy primarily because of the partition of Ireland. Sean fought against the Irish Free State and was captured and Jailed with Ernie O’Mally in the Four Courts Battle. Years later, Sean MacBride succeeded Moss Twomey in 1936 as Chief of Staff of the IRA.
Thereafter, a change in his life occurred and he departed the IRA. He was admitted to the Bar and became a Senior Barrister in 1943. From 1948 to 1951, he was Minister for Foreign affairs for the Irish Government. He was responsible for declaring Ireland a Republic. He appeared in many leading civil and criminal cases in Ireland, Africa and before International Courts. In 1958, he acted as adviser to the Greek government. He was cofounder of Amnesty International.
In 1974, Sean MacBride was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Peace and he was awarded the American Medal of Justice by President Carter in 1978. His receipt of these awards is quite unique in human history. His work in defense of human rights called him to many parts of the world. He was United Nations Commissioner from 1973 to 1976 and in Iran in 1979 in an effort to secure the release of hostages. One could go on for many pages listing the various international organizations in which he played a significant role and which honored him with high office awards and distinctions.
Sean MacBride died in Dublin on January 15, 1988. He was the author of the MacBride Principles, and anti-discrimination code, which has been opted by many states in America. The MacBride Principles are aimed at forcing American companies operating in Northern Ireland to ensure equal employment opportunities for Catholics who are denied equal rights by the British.