Plaque in Leinster House to commemorate murdered Senator Billy Fox would be fitting tribute

12th March 2021 - Senator John McGahon

A proposal to permanently commemorate Senator Billy Fox on the 47th anniversary of his murder by the IRA has been made by Fine Gael Senator John McGahon.

A member of the Fine Gael party, Billy Fox served as TD for Monaghan from 1969-1973 and was subsequently elected as a member of the Seanad.

Speaking in the Seanad today, Senator McGahon said: “On the night of the 11th March 1974, Senator Billy Fox was visiting the home of his fiancée, Majorie Coulson, just outside of Clones.

“As he arrived down a dark laneway to the Coulson home, Senator Fox was confronted by a dozen IRA gunman who were in the process of searching the Coulson home. They had been informed that the Coulsons, a Protestant family living in the border region, were hiding arms for loyalist paramilitaries. Something that was not true.

“Senator Fox, having confronted the gunmen, then tried to run from danger across fields behind the Coulson home. He was followed by the gunmen, shot through the back and left to die in a field. The Coulson family were then ordered out of the house and their home was burnt to the ground by the gunman.

“Senator Fox sadly became the first sitting member of the Oireachtas to have been murdered since the assassination of Kevin O’Higgins in 1927.

“Senator Fox, a Protestant, was a fierce defender of civil rights across this island both as a TD and Senator. A critic of the British military campaign in the border region, he was removed from the Dáil when he brought CS gas cannisters and rubber bullets into the Chamber to criticise the Government’s policy on Northern Ireland.

“Senator Fox was a courageous public representative who represented a border constituency in very dangerous times, he was outspoken, something that ultimately cost him his Dáil seat and his life.

“Given that so few members of the Oireachtas have ever been assassinated and as we approach the 50th anniversary of the murder of Senator Fox, a plaque should be erected in Leinster House in his memory.

“We have many dark chapters in our history, if we fail to remember them, we fail to learn from them,” Senator McGahon concluded.

 

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