Colin Maguire
Died in Portlaoise Prison 10 October 1987

Colin from Liverpool was the son of a Presbyterian minister of Irish descent. Colin worked as for the Post office and became involved in politics in his capacity as shop steward. A well-known figure in left-wing and republican politics in his native city, a comrade of Colin’s from Liverpool had this to say of him:

I first met him when we were involved in anti-fascist work in Liverpool during the late 70s and early 80s. Along with three other comrades, he was a member of the IRSP Liverpool Support Group. He was very involved in a number of organisations including the Troops Out Movement, the Anti -Nazi League and the Merseyside Anti -Racist Alliance. He was a tall lad, but slightly built. This did not stop him taking part in street fights with members of the National Front and British Movement. On one occasion a fight broke out on Church Street between fascist paper sellers and members of local socialist and anarchist groups. Colin had earlier been enjoying his bottled Guinness in the White Star pub and was on the upper deck of a bus making his way home to his flat in Toxteth. Seeing the fight, Colin ran downstairs and opened the door of the bus by using the emergency handle. He jumped off the bus, ran up the street and thumped one of the fascists. Another time he punched a 'fascist' who ran towards him and when the 'fascist' dropped his radio, Colin realised he had planted an undercover copper. He was arrested after the death of Airey Neave, but released. The police cause quite a bit of damage to his flat. In case anyone is getting the wrong idea, Colin was a gentle lad. He kept hamsters as pets and I never saw lose his temper with anyone. I worked with him when we were sent on a Government Training Scheme in 1979 when we were both unemployed and looking for work in the building trade. I have to admit when I read of his death in The Guardian all those years ago, I cried, which is something I seldom do. He was a good comrade and I'm glad I knew him”.

Colin later moved to London where he ran the ‘News from Nowhere’ book store. He was greatly involved in left-wing politics and was a popular figure amongst his comrades. Colin had discussed with his friends for some time his desire to offer his services to the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. During the period of the 1980-81 hunger strikes, Colin moved to the Divis flats complex in West Belfast. One can only wonder at the loneliness of Colin during this period, moving into a vacant flat on his own with no assistance from anyone. But his solitary experience did not last as his regular attendance at the numerous protests and pickets during this time gained him the respect and comradeship of the Republican socialist community in Belfast.

Colin joined the Republican Socialist movement and was a prominent figure in the political activity in the Divis flats area. However the constant harassment and raids of the Royal Ulster constabulary forced Colin, like so many others to go on the run. Eventually settling in Dundalk, Colin did not rest from active service and was involved in many operations in the 26 counties. Unfortunately Colin’s luck ran out when he was captured by the Gardaí during an operation in Dundalk. It is testament to his bravery and commitment to the struggle that Colin actually stayed behind during the Garda chase to ensure that his comrades would have a better chance of escape.

During his time in prison Colin had embarked on various protests against the inhumane and degrading treatment of political prisoners in the Free-state. Colin eventually embarked on a hunger strike which later ended. It was soon after that Colin died at 31 years of age. The Free-state authorities have never delivered a credible reason for Colin’s death and how his health and physical was not monitored or treated. As republican socialists know only too well a hunger strike, even if not to the death can cause lasting damage to the participant’s health. The Free-state prison authorities would also have been familiar with this fact so the question must be asked – Why was a political prisoner, recently involved in a hunger strike, neglected in this callous manner? The Free-state government hopes that this issue would quietly be forgotten but as long as the struggle for national liberation and socialism goes on, We will never forget Colin Maguire. The best memorial we can build for Colin is a 32 county workers republic which he so diligently fought for. We remember Colin as a Volunteer, a family member, a prisoner-of-war, a comrade and most importantly a working class man who fought the injustice of capitalist imperialism wherever it presented itself.