Kieran Doherty (hunger striker)

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Kieran Doherty
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1981 – 2 August 1981
Personal details
Born(1955-10-16)16 October 1955
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Died2 August 1981(1981-08-02) (aged 25)
Maze, County Down, Northern Ireland
Political partyAnti H-Block
Other organisationsProvisional IRA volunteer

Kieran Doherty (16 October 1955 – 2 August 1981) was an Irish republican hunger striker and politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cavan–Monaghan constituency from June 1981 to August 1981. He was a volunteer in the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).


Doherty was the third son in a family of six.[1] He was born in the Andersonstown area of Belfast. He was educated at St. Theresa's Primary School and Glen Road Christian Brothers School (CBS). The Doherty brothers were known cyclists and sportsmen in the Andersontown area; Kieran won an Antrim Gaelic football medal at minor level in 1971.[2]

Doherty joined Fianna Éireann in 1971 and was interned by the British Government between February 1973 and November 1975.[1] Kieran's brothers Michael and Terence were interned between 1972 and 1974.[1]

Doherty worked as an apprentice heating engineer.[3] His girlfriend was Geraldine Scheiss; although they never became formally engaged they became very close towards the end of his life. Before his arrest, she had not known that he was in the IRA.[4]

Paramilitary activity[edit]

In August 1976, while he was out to set a bomb, the van he was in was chased by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). During the chase Doherty managed to leave the van and hijack a car. He later ditched the car some streets away and was found 1 mile (1.6 km) away from the car.[1] He was convicted and sentenced to 18 years for possession of firearms and explosives, with another four years for the hijack.[1]

Hunger strike[edit]

Doherty began his strike on 22 May. He died at the age of 25 in the 1981 Irish hunger strike in the Maze Prison (known to republicans as Long Kesh). He lasted 73 days on hunger strike, the longest of the 1981 hunger strikers, and only one day short of Terence MacSwiney.[5]

Election to Dáil Éireann[edit]

While on hunger strike he was elected as an Anti H-Block TD for the Cavan–Monaghan constituency at the 1981 general election, which was held in Ireland on 11 June.[3] He received 9,121 (15.1%) first preference votes and was elected on the fourth count.[6] Doherty is the shortest-serving Dáil deputy ever, having served as a TD for two months. The two seats gained by Anti H-Block candidates denied Taoiseach Charles Haughey the chance to form a government, and the 22nd Dáil saw a Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government come to office, with Garret FitzGerald as Taoiseach.


Kieran Doherty memorial in Milltown Cemetery

He is commemorated on the Irish Martyrs Memorial at Waverley Cemetery in Sydney, Australia.[7] Decades earlier, another hunger striker, Joseph Whitty (aged 19), likewise died on 2 August, during the 1923 Irish Hunger Strikes. In October 2016, a painting of him was unveiled in Leinster House by Sinn Féin.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Kieran Doherty Biography". Archived from the original on 27 June 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  2. ^ Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 242. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2.
  3. ^ a b "Kieran Doherty". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  4. ^ Beresford, David. Ten Men Dead.
  5. ^ "Remembering the Past – Kevin Lynch and Kieran Doherty laid to rest". 31 July 2020. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  6. ^ "Kieran Doherty". Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  7. ^ "40th anniversary of hunger striker Doherty TD marked". The Anglo-Celt. Cavan. 3 August 2021. Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  8. ^ "Mural to Hunger Strike TD Kieran Doherty unveiled in Dáil". 29 October 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2021.