One of the enduring features in Irish legal discourse in the postcolonial period is the manner in which the individual body has become a receptacle of contested meaning. In Ireland, with its birth out of a violent trauma based on a philosophy of blood sacrifice, the heroic patriot who dies in the service of his imagined nation is invested with particular symbolic capital and casts a traumatic shadow over discourses on death in Irish society. The nation is always already in the shadow of death, of the deathly apparition of the new nation, made hauntingly manifest in the photos of the dead body of the nationalist hunger striker Terence MacSwiney, as his corpse lay in state in 1920. This body being dead also signals the hope that, in the sacrifice of the individual for the national cause, liberation will one day come. This theme of the primacy of community over individual prefigured the manner in which in postcolonial Irish society the individual body of the citizen was relegated to a secondary position. The attempt to deny or repress death may be analogised with the similar attempt on the part of political elites to create a notion of political identity which is rigid and attempts to keep all those others associated with death and degeneration outside the body politic.