GEORGE SEAWRIGHT was one of the most controversial political figures in Ulster. In his short Political career he made many enemies and received numerous death threats. Sadly, those threats were carried out on November 19th 1987 when he was cruelly shot in the back of the head by a murder squad from the Marxist Leninist “Irish People’s Liberation Organisation” a particularly vicious offshoot of the INLA. George lingered in a critically ill state in hospital for a fortnight before losing his final fight on December 3rd.
The coverage of George’s shooting on the ITN and BBC news networks gave the strong impression that he only got what he deserved. Who was George Seawright and why did he die?
George Seawright was born in Glasgow of Ulster stock. He worked in the Belfast shipyard until his election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1982. He was married with three children and lived in a maisonette in the staunchly loyalist Glencairn Estate. His fiery platform manner soon won him a strong following and he was elected to Belfast City Council in 1981 as a DUP member. His outspokenness and strong sense of Social Justice won him many enemies in both republican and unionist circles. He was much criticised for giving an interview to Nationalism Today in which he applauded the NF, not only for its vigorous support of Ulster’s Cause, but for its policy on race, immigration and social welfare. Typically, he ignored his critics and maintained good relations with the NF until his death.
In 1984 he shot to notoriety over allegedly anti-Catholic remarks he was said to have made at a meeting of the Belfast Education and Library Board. That year he was also strongly criticised when he led a group of people who removed a republican flag from a council leisure centre shortly alter it had been erected by Sinn Féin. George was disowned and expelled from the DUP, but undeterred he regained his council seat as an independent candidate in 1985. He became a strong critic of the sellout tactics and policies of the Paisley/Molyneaux Unionist Establishment, especially in their ineffectual ‘campaign’ against the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
In October 1986 he was sentenced to nine months in Magilligan Prison for his opposition to Tom King’s visit to Belfast City Hall. This caused him to lose his City Council seat. In a letter from prison to a member of the NF’s Central Ulster Executive, he wrote: “I came to the conclusion a long time ago that you could not be a career politician and a patriot at the same time. 1 believe that career politicians whose prime objective is to gain and hold political office within the Establishment are the enemies of true patriotism, as true patriotism puts the welfare and destiny of her people before personal gain and political advantage. 1 notice that another Sunday rag spoke of my political career as being “in ruins” as 1 lose my council seat through this prison sentence. My response to that is so what? So long as 1 never lose my loyalist convictions. Indeed, they must be crazy if they think that by removing my freedom they could also remove my loyalist conviction.”
Unlike Paisley, Robinson, Molyneaux and the rest of their ilk, George sacrificed his political career and his freedom for the Cause of Ulster’s liberty. In the end he paid for his conviction with his life. Once he somewhat cynically stated that if he was ever murdered, there would be a very big funeral for him but then he would be quickly forgotten. This need not be so! REMEMBER SEAWRIGHT should be our inspirational motto in the years of struggle that lie ahead. George Seawright, true patriot, loyalist, Christian martyr and friend I salute your memory. From sacrifice comes victory!