Saturday, December 19, 2009
Book learning #56
The secret history of the IRA by Ed Moloney.
I've always been interested in Irish history, always felt that republicanism made sense. Reading this didn't change anything in particular, didn't cast any new light on the main events as they were often passed over with a glance. This was not a chronological account of the last 40 years. The real story here was the internal politics of the IRA since 1969 and the dealings of a certain Gerry Adams in taking over the organisation and heading it into a peace process that continues to this day.
In some respects it read like the Sopranos, just not as nice. There were aspects of the story that baffled me, no mention of the Brighton Bomb of 1984. The Birmingham 6 and Guildford 4 were never mentioned (although the Balcombe Street gang, who one can assume had a hand in the bombings were on a number of occaisions) and many of the attrocities were quickly passed over. Reading on, you began to understand, this was not about a list of bombings and murder but how the IRA leadership dealt with it's continual internal feuding, negotiating and violent games. Still, the last split, which created the Real IRA was detailed, their most notorious action, the 1998 Omagh bombing was not.
The political side of it was fascinating, the posturing on all sides, the deals with Libya, the global angle, the role of the Catholic church and also seeing how the situation changed over the years from civil rights marches in the late 60s through the terror of the 70s into the stalemate and near defeat of the IRA in the 80s.
I enjoyed this, absorbing once I got beyond some of the annoying omissions.