Conor Cruise O’Brien
Conor Cruise O’Brien (3 November 1917 – 18 December 2008) often nicknamed “The Cruiser”, was an Irish politician, writer, historian and academic who served as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs from 1973 to 1977, a Senator for University of Dublin from 1977 to 1979, a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin North-East constituency from 1969 to 1977 and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from January 1973 to March 1973.
His opinion on the role of Britain in Ireland and in Northern Ireland changed during the 1970s, in response to the outbreak of The Troubles. He saw opposing nationalist and unionist traditions as irreconcilable and switched from a nationalist to a unionist view of Irish politics and history. Cruise O’Brien’s outlook was always radical and the positions he took were seldom orthodox. He summarised his position as intending “to administer an electric shock to the Irish psyche”.
Internationally, he opposed in person the African National Congress’s academic boycott of the apartheid regime in South Africa. These views contrasted with those he espoused during the 1950s and 1960s.
During his career as a civil servant Cruise O’Brien worked on the government’s anti-partition campaign. At the 1969 general election, he was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Labour Party TD for Dublin North-East, and became a Minister between 1973 and 1977. He was also the Labour Party’s Spokesman on Northern Ireland during those years. He was later known primarily as an author and as a columnist for the Irish Independent.