IRA leader Michael Collins may have been gay, claims a gay Irish senator in his new autobiography.
Collins is considered by many to be a revolutionary hero who helped pave the way for the foundation of the modern Irish state.
As well as being the intelligence director of the IRA, a military group which fought British rule during the 1919–21 Irish War of Independence and later became known as a notorious terrorist group, Collins was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army.
Gay activist David Norris, who ran for president of the Republic of Ireland in 2011, reveals in his book A Kick Against The Pricks that the revolutionary hero may have been gay.
He writes that he spoke to an elderly man once who said he had been ‘one of Mr Collins’ principal boyfriends’, reported the Belfast Newsletter.
However, Norris says some republicans are uncomfortable with the idea.
‘If Michael Collins was gay or bisexual – so what? Who cares? It shouldn’t matter as it is just a neutral fact,’ he writes.
‘It certainly isn’t a slur, and the vast majority of the Irish people no longer regard it as such.’
It is also widely believed that Easter Rising leader Patrick Pearse and gun-runner Roger Casement were both gay.
Norris was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland and is credited with throwing out the homophobic law which brought down Oscar Wilde after a 14-year campaign in 1988.