Updated date:

Miriam Daly, Irish Republican Socialist Martyr

The author is a QUB Pol Sci Honours graduate and has written extensively on imperialism, national liberation struggles and class issues.

miriam-daly-irish-republican-socialist-martyr

Vol. Miriam Daly - Assassinated by Pro-British Death Squad 26 June 1980

Miriam Daly, an Irish Republican Socialist Party activist, was callously murdered in her home in Andersonstown, West Belfast, shot dead by a pro-British death squad on the 26th of June 1980. She was a founding member of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, a dedicated Republican activist and a highly qualified academic who at the time of her brutal murder by the armed agents of imperialism was a much-respected lecturer at Queens University Belfast (QUB) Department of Economic and Social History.

Miriam's Background

Miriam Daly grew up in Dublin in the South-East of Ireland, attended University College Dublin (UCD) as both an undergraduate then a postgraduate student, and subsequently became a member of the academic staff, lecturing in Economic History. Miriam's first husband, Dr Joseph Lee, died tragically of a heart attack aged only 37, leaving Miriam a young widow. Some years later she met and eventually married Jim Daly, a fellow Republican Socialist, university lecturer, and lifelong partner.

By 1968 both Miriam and Jim Daly had secured lectureship posts at Queens University Belfast (QUB) just as the Civil Rights movement was gaining public momentum. Miriam Daly became active in the struggle for civil rights and as a gifted orator became a publicly prominent spokesperson. Ironically, due to the very real threat of assassination by Loyalist paramilitaries, the Dalys had to move from their home in the then largely Unionist Stranmillis area of South Belfast near QUB to the perceived safety of Andersonstown in Republican West Belfast.

As a founding member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, Miriam Daly was elected chairperson of the IRSP following the murderous assassination of the IRSP's co-founder, Seamus Costello. Miriam and her husband Jim were very active in the burgeoning H-Block/Armagh Committees and were tireless workers on behalf of all Irish Republican prisoners. Miriam Daly would have been particularly prominent in the H-Block campaign and would have become a household name as one of the campaign's most articulate spokespersons and advocates on behalf of the H-Blocks' Republican POW's and those habitually harassed by the British Army and the paramilitary Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC—now rebranded as the PSNI).

Miriam Daly Memorial Mural, Oakman Street, Belfast

miriam-daly-irish-republican-socialist-martyr

The Murder of Miriam Daly

The brutal murder of Miriam Daly by a British military death squad cannot be viewed in isolation, as her particularly callous assassination was part of a very definite state-sponsored murder campaign targeting Irish Republican Socialist Party members and H-Blocks campaigners. Articulate IRSP leaders and/or Republican prisoners' campaigners such as Miriam Dally, Ronnie Bunting, Noel Lyttle, and John Turnley were all brutally murdered within a short period of time. IRSP co-founder and H-Block campaigner, Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey and her husband were also critically wounded by a pro-British death squad. Countless other activists were targeted in concerted attempts to silence the ablest advocates of Irish freedom.

The British death-squad gunmen who callously murdered Miriam Daly bound the mother of 3 and then waited at her home in Andersonstown hoping to also murder her husband Jim Daly who they were expecting to return from work. However, on that tragic day, June 26th, 1980, Jim was in Dublin attending a German language course and it is assumed that when the British death squad realized that he would not be returning they shot Miriam dead before making good their escape. The Daly children discovered their murdered mother when they returned from school and it can only be imagined how traumatic and heartbreaking an experience that was for the young Dalys.

Just as with the murders of Miriam Daly's comrades Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle, the death squad's modus operandi was that of a British military undercover gang. They murdered M/s Daly in the heart of Belfast's largest Republican area, Andersonstown and even waited for some time in the Daly home hoping to murder her husband, Jim. The British death squad carried out their foul deed in the safe knowledge that, at the very least, the uniformed British military who would normally have been very much in evidence in West Belfast, was giving them safe passage both in and out of the area.

miriam-daly-irish-republican-socialist-martyr

Jim Daly, Miriam's grieving husband, was certain of collusion and the hidden hand of the British security state's involvement in her murder. Jim said of his beloved wife and comrade:

She came very much to the notice of agencies that were poking their noses in here, for sure. That’s why she was targeted. She had tremendous energy and never stopped. People called her in the middle of the night to come to an RUC station to help out, while relatives would phone her to find out where their loved ones were. She never stopped. It was amazing how much dedication she had. She was always upbeat and confident and optimistic. If there is an opposite to demoralize, she moralized people.

As her funeral cortege passed her home in Andersonstown four members of the Irish National Liberation Army fired a volley of shots in tribute to Miriam Daly, the Irish Republican Socialist Party activist, the Irish National Liberation Army volunteer, the H-Block activist, the university lecturer, the loving wife, and mother.

Miriam Daly is buried in Swords, County Dublin. Irish Republican Socialist martyrs like Miriam Daly who made the ultimate sacrifice will always be remembered and commemorated by her comrades. Miriam Daly's image appears on IRSM commemorative plaques, murals and her name is inscribed on the Irish Republican Socialist Movement memorial stone in Milltown cemetery, Belfast. One of West Belfast's best known and most striking wall murals on Oakman Street in the Beechmount area commemorates Miriam Daly and was painted by her son, Donal, along with others.

Many people who pass the striking mural dedicated to Miriam Daly, the author included, will think of one of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement's most outstanding comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle for national liberation and socialism. It should be remembered that Miriam Daly had a successful career as a university lecturer and she could quite understandably have chosen to immerse herself solely in the infinitely safer world of academia but instead, Miriam chose to fight for human rights and the Irish Socialist Republic envisaged by James Connolly. Being a Republican Socialist activist in those intense and dangerous times was not an easy path to choose as the full weight of the murderous British military-industrial complex was ranged against those who dared oppose its will. Miriam Daly was one of those courageous Republican Socialists who defied Britannia's iron grip on Ireland and she sadly and tragically paid for her brave resistance with her life. Today's Republican Socialist activists are determined that Miriam Daly's sacrifice will not be erased by the historical revisionism, currently being pushed by imperialism's lackeys and its fellow travellers. The Miriam Daly mural prophetically bears the inscription:

"History is written by the winner."

Miriam Daly's widowed husband Jim Daly elucidated further on the well-known quote at a commemoration remembering the 25th anniversary of Miriam Daly's murder:

This year, on the 25th anniversary of Miriam's death I feel there is at least one thing I can do, and that is to restate an important message she never tired of repeating. It was: to beware of and shun so-called "conflict resolution" the alleged academic discipline which is, in fact, an imperialist confidence trick.

Miriam Daly the INLA Volunteer, the political activist, the esteemed academic, the loving wife and mother who was gunned down by the forces of British imperialism will never be forgotten by her comrades in the Irish Republican Socialist Movement and even in death remains an exemplary model for today's young activists who follow bravely in her footsteps!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Related Articles