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Matthew Morrison

former member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Matt Morrison grew up with Martin McGuinness as well as several other, nonpublic and top‐level leaders of the IRA. The eldest of seven children, Mr. Morrison was born in Derry, Northern Ireland’s second‐largest city, in 1955. He grew up in a two‐bedroom house with his aunt, grandmother, parents and siblings. As was the case in the rest of Northern Ireland, only one adult per house had the right to vote. Mr. Morrison attended St. Columb’s College, a prestigious boys’ school that has produced several Nobel Prize winners, including the 1998 Peace Prize co‐winner John Hume (whom Mr. Morrison personally knows) and the poet Seamus Heany. Just 16 years old, Mr. Morrison attended a civil rights march with his father. After 13 unarmed protesters were shot and killed by British paratroopers, it came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” After the march, with dozens like him who had witnessed firsthand the protest and shootings, he joined the IRA. As a university student in 1975, Mr. Morrison was arrested and sentenced on political charges by a “diplock” (non‐jury) court. He was subjected to interrogation methods which left him with permanent hearing‐loss in one ear. Despite his young age, while in prison, Mr. Morrison was appointed one of the highest‐ranking IRA officers, and he conducted countless meetings with British and Irish officials ‐ at their request ‐ as well as with infamous, top‐level Loyalist paramilitaries. Upon his release in 1985, Mr. Morrison came to the U.S. and married an American citizen. In the mid‐1990s, CBS Television produced a documentary featuring the legal struggles he faced living openly as a former IRA member. The Immigration and Naturalization Service categorized him, and all other former IRA members living in the U.S., as deportable. Mr. Morrison led meetings with Gerry Adams, former IRA leader and president of its political wing, Sinn F´ein, during negotiations leading up to the Good Friday Agreement. That Agreement conferred a unique political/legal status on former IRA members living in the U.S., one which guarded against their deportation and conferred a host of rights upon them. Now a nurse and part‐time Gaelic language teacher, Mr. Morrison lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He often speaks on the conflict and peace process in Northern Ireland, on immigrant civil rights issues at universities, including a 2008 issue at Case Western Reserve, and for non‐profit organizations, such as Children for Peace in Ireland.