ISBN is

978-0-7475-3818-9 / 9780747538189

Provos: Ira And Sinn Fein

by

Publisher:Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Edition:Softcover

Language:French

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About the book:

Where does one begin with the IRA? In the 17th century with the first Protestant settlers in the Northeast of Ireland? With Patrick Pearse's seizure of the GPO building in Dublin in 1916? With the Partition of Ireland in 1921? With the bombing campaign of the 1950s? In 1968 with the first civil rights marches? With the arrival of British troops on the streets of Belfast and Derry in 1969? Any one of these flash points could have served as a starting point for Peter Taylor's remarkable book--and indeed he pays more than lip service to their importance in Irish history. Yet he wisely chooses to make the events of 1970 to the present day his main focus, because despite what took place before, these are the years that will determine the shape of the new Ulster.

In 1970, the IRA was largely held to be a spent force. The Loyalists were running riot in Northern Ireland, while the IRA had largely forsaken nationalism in favour of extreme left-wing politics. They saw the upper classes as the oppressors of the Irish people and held that the Catholic and the Protestant working class should join together against the prevailing system and thus advocated a non-violent response to their Protestant comrades. Whatever the merits of this analysis--and there were and are some--this wasn't quite how the Catholic working class of Ulster saw the situation. They saw they were living in worse accommodation, they saw that the political system was gerrymandered to prevent change and they saw that Catholic unemployment ran significantly higher than Protestant unemployment. So to the Catholics the IRA came to stand for "I Ran Away".

Having served as the BBC's Northern Ireland correspondent for many years, Taylor is well placed to chart the ebbs and flows of the IRA--from the hunger strikes of the early 1980s to the massacre at Enniskillen. Moreover, he does so with the eyewitness accounts of many IRA member who agreed to be interviewed for this book. Their stories make fascinating--if sometimes nauseating-- reading. Incidentally, it's the self justification of these men that ends up more nauseating than their violence. But that's something we're all just going to have to live with, because men such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are now part of the political furniture and are likely to be key players in any Northern Ireland Assembly. Taylor has updated the text for this paperback edition to take in the 1998 Good Friday agreement and beyond, but only a fool would imagine this is the end of the story. If you want to know the plot so far, then this book is required reading. --John Crace

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