Eddie McAteer

McAteer speaking in an interview to RTE in 1968

Eddie McAteer (1914 – 28 March 1986) was an Irish nationalist politician in Northern Ireland.

Born in Coatbridge, Scotland, McAteer's family moved to Derry in Northern Ireland while he was young. In 1930 he joined the Inland Revenue, where he worked until 1944. He then became an accountant and more actively involved in politics. While his brother, Hugh, became a prominent Irish republican, involved in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Sinn FΓ©in, Eddie chose nationalist politics. He was elected as the Nationalist Party (Northern Ireland) Member of Parliament for Mid Londonderry in the 1945 Northern Ireland general election. He was a founder member of the Anti-Partition League of Ireland, and became its vice chairman in 1947, then its chairman in 1953.

In 1952, McAteer was elected to Londonderry City Council, and the following year he switched to represent Foyle in the Northern Ireland House of Commons. He left the City Council in 1958, and became the Deputy Leader of the Nationalist Party at Stormont. He became prominent in the campaign calling for the establishment of a university in Derry.[1]

In 1964, he became its leader, and the following year accepted the post of Leader of the Opposition, although he lost his seat in the 1969 Northern Ireland general election to John Hume. While in his early career, he had been a militant nationalist, publishing Irish Action – a call for civil disobedience – with the start of The Troubles, he repeatedly called for moderation.[2]

In the 1970 United Kingdom general election, McAteer stood in Londonderry on the Unity slate, taking 36.6% of the vote. He again contested Londonderry in the Northern Ireland Assembly, 1973 election, taking only 3,712 votes and narrowly missing being elected. With the ascendancy of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the Nationalist Party was in disarray. McAteer took his remaining supporters into the Irish Independence Party in 1978, in which his son Fergus became prominent.



Parliament of Northern Ireland
no official opposition
Leader of the Official Opposition
no official opposition
Preceded by
George Leeke
Member of Parliament for Mid Londonderry
Succeeded by
Patrick Gormley
Preceded by
Paddy Maxwell
Member of Parliament for Foyle
Succeeded by
John Hume
Party political offices
Preceded by
James McSparran
Chairman of the Irish Anti-Partition League
League moribund.
Formally dissolved 1958
Preceded by
Joe Stewart
Leader of the Nationalist Party at Stormont
Succeeded by
Roderick O'Connor

Other Languages