Mayo Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Frank Stagg

Frank Stagg was born in Hollymount, Co. Mayo in 1942.

After finishing his schooling, he worked as an assistant gamekeeper with his uncle prior to emigrating from Ireland to England in search of work. In 1972, he joined the Luton cumann of Sinn Féin and soon after became a volunteer in the IRA. In April 1973, Stagg was arrested with six others alleged to comprise an IRA unit planning a campaign in Coventry. Stagg was given a ten year sentence. Stagg was initially sent to the top security Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight. In March 1974, having been moved to Parkhurst Prison, he and fellow Mayo man Michael Gaughan joined a hunger strike begun by the sisters Marion Price and Dolours Price, Hugh Feeney and Gerry Kelly. Stagg was denied repatriation, and was transferred to Long Lartin Prison, during his time there he was subject to solitary confinement for refusing to do prison work.

In 1975 he was transferred to Wakefield Prison, where it was demanded that he again do prison work, which he refused and was place in solitary confinement. On 14th December, 1975, Stagg embarked on a hunger strike in Wakefield Prison along with a number of Republican prisoners, after being refused repatriation to Ireland during the IRA/British truce. The British government refused to meet any of the hunger strikers demands. Frank Stagg died on 12th February, 1976 after 62 days on hunger strike.

Frank Stagg's burial caused considerable controversy in Ireland, with republicans and some members of the Stagg family seeking to have Stagg buried in the republican plot in Ballina as was the wish of Frank Stagg, while the Irish government and some members of the Stagg family including Emmet Stagg, wished to have him buried in the family plot in the same cemetery and to avoid republican involvement in the funeral. As the family of Stagg waited at Dublin Airport for the body, the British Government ordered the flight to be diverted to Shannon Airport. It was here that his body was brought to Ballina and buried near the family plot. In order to prevent the body being disinterred and reburied by republicans in accordance to the wishes of the dead man, the grave was covered with concrete. Eighteen months later, in November 1977, a group of republicans tunnelled under the concrete to recover the coffin under cover of darkness and reburied it in the republican plot.