Mulvey, Anthony (1873–1957), journalist and politician, was born in Ballynaglearagh, between Dowra and Drumshambo, Co. Leitrim, and educated locally. His journalistic career began on the Leitrim Observer (then owned by the Dunne family) in Carrick-on-Shannon, before moving to the Roscommon Herald at Boyle, under Jasper Tully (qv). After several years as a leading member of the paper's reporting staff, Mulvey accepted an appointment in Wexford, where he worked on both the Wexford Free Press and the Wexford People. In the early 1920s he was offered the position of editor of the Ulster Herald group of newspapers in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, and he remained in this post until his retirement in 1951. In addition he acted as a correspondent for the Irish News and various other newspapers throughout Ireland.
His involvement in political activities dated from his time in Wexford, where he was associated with Robert Brennan (qv), a prominent member of the Gaelic League, Sinn Féin, and the IRB. When he moved north, Mulvey at first continued his involvement by indirect means, supporting Gaelic games and the Irish language in the Omagh area, but he retained close links south of the border with Éamon de Valera (qv) and Fianna Fáil. All of this was to change, however, in November 1935 when he found himself and Patrick Cunningham (qv), a large dairy farmer from outside Omagh, being nominated and elected to the Westminster parliament for the constituency of Fermanagh–Tyrone. They emerged as compromise candidates when it appeared as if both nationalists and republicans would stand at the general election, thereby splitting the vote and allowing a traditional nationalist seat to be lost to unionism. After last-minute negotiations it was agreed that both groups would stand aside in favour of Mulvey and Cunningham, who then went forward on an abstentionist ticket. In the subsequent poll they were returned with comfortable majorities, and for the next ten years (1935–45) neither took his seat at Westminster.
Disunity among nationalists within Northern Ireland continued to be a problem, and after his election Mulvey became involved in efforts to establish a single political organisation which could represent northern nationalism. He became a member of the Irish Union Association (May 1936) and the Northern Council for Unity (October 1937), but both were to fail in their immediate objectives – northern nationalists remained divided between those who advocated abstention from the Stormont and Westminster parliaments, and those who favoured taking their seats.
With the end of the second world war in the summer of 1945 and the return of a Labour government to power at Westminster, expectations were raised among northern nationalists that partition might be re-examined. Thus, when Mulvey and Cunningham were returned at the general election of July 1945, a subsequent convention of delegates instructed them to take their seats in order to draw attention to the national cause in Britain. In particular, Mulvey was anxious to use the opportunity and began to forge links with the ‘Friends of Ireland’, a group of sympathetic backbench Labour MPs at Westminster, to highlight the anti-partition cause but also to furnish them with examples of alleged discrimination suffered by the minority community at the hands of the unionist authorities. As well, he attempted to pursue these goals by working closely with the Irish Anti-Partition League (founded in November 1945), yet another attempt to unite nationalist opinion within Northern Ireland, by speaking at its rallies across Ireland and Britain.
By the end of the 1940s it had become clear that this push to raise the question of partition was making little headway, and for Mulvey this affected his work at Westminster. At the general election of February 1950 he was once again selected as a candidate, this time for the new constituency of Mid Ulster, which had been created after a redrawing of the electoral boundaries in Northern Ireland. To his anger, he was instructed at the selection convention to revert to a policy of abstention. Firmly believing that his presence at Westminster was vital to ensure that the anti-partition message was heard in Britain, he initially refused to stand and went forward only when persuaded that no other nationalist candidate could win the seat. After his subsequent victory, he sought to recall the convention to overturn its earlier decision in favour of abstentionism. This was done (May 1951) and in the ensuing months he took part in debates when allowed an opportunity to raise issues relating to Northern Ireland. By this point, however, he was suffering from ill health, and announced his decision to retire from public life in September 1951.
Over the next few years his health deteriorated and eventually he died at his home on the Derry Road, Omagh, on 11 January 1957. He was survived by his wife Catherine, a native of Leitrim, and his sons Gerard, Fr Anthony, Aiden, and a daughter, Mrs Sheila O'Connor.