'committed republican' | 

Former Sinn Féin ‘trailblazer’ and ex-republican prisoner dies in San Francisco

Bobby Lavery’s brother and son were killed in separate loyalist gun attacks and he survived several attempts on his own life

Niamh CampbellBelfast Telegraph

Tributes have been paid to a former Sinn Féin councillor and former republican prisoner who has died in the US after a short illness.

Bobby Lavery was first elected to council in north Belfast in 1985 and represented his native New Lodge area for 15 years.

He retired from politics in 2001 and since split his time between Belfast and San Francisco, which is where the 74-year-old died this week.

His brother and son were killed in separate loyalist gun attacks in 1992 and 1993, and Mr Lavery survived several attempts on his own life throughout the years.

He served time in Long Kesh for possession of ammunition in the early 1970s.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Mr Lavery’s passing, adding that he was a ‘trailblazer’ for the party and a ‘committed Irish Republican’.

“Bobby threw himself into work for the Republican community, driving the advice centre, tackling housing issues, campaigning for youth and community services, and tackling poverty,” said Mr Kelly.

“Bobby campaigned day and night on behalf of the Republican prisoners in Armagh Gaol and the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in their battle for political status and supported local families fighting against the state’s use of paid perjurers to jail dozens of local people in the 1980s.

“When Sinn Féin contested the 1985 council elections Bobby and his friend and comrade the late Gerard McGuigan made history becoming the first Republicans elected in north Belfast to Belfast City Council in 60 years.”

“Bobby was an energetic and dynamic councillor and he and his family were targeted first for harassment and intimidation by British state forces and then by loyalist death squads colluding with the British state,” continued the North Belfast representative.

“In 1992 his brother Martin was murdered in his Crumlin Road home while he wrapped Christmas presents with his five-year-old daughter.

“And tragically in August 1993 just months after Bobby had been re-elected to represent North Belfast his son Sean was shot dead by loyalists in the family home on the Antrim Road.

“In the years which followed Bobby campaigned to highlight the collusion between loyalist death squads and the British State Forces. Loyalists continued to threaten the lives of Bobby and his brother Danny.

“Bobby was elected again in the 1997 council elections where he was joined by his brother Danny who won a seat in the Castle constituency.”

Mr Lavery is survived by his wife Susanna, children Treasa, Neil, Siobhan and Roibeárd and a wide family circle.

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