The Blanket

Jomo Kenyata in the Mau Mau - Never

John Nixon

Ed Moloney's book The Secret History of The IRA is not just another shelf piece that makes up the voluminous canon of literature about the Provisionals. All truth is bitter and when apologists for the Provisionals rush to rubbish and malign his book then it would be fair comment that the bitter truth in this case is indeed a bitter pill and the only ones not swallowing it are those who want to write or see history written as they would tell it. For Napoleon history was a fable agreed upon; for Joyce's Stephen Daedelus it was a nightmare from which he is continually trying to awaken.

So what's different about Moloney, Bowyer Bell, Mallie or Coogan? Yes, Moloney's credentials are a major asset; former journalist of the year, northern editor of the Irish Times and Sunday Tribune, but probably the book's most valuable asset as colleague Eamonn McCann observed is 'the measure of the solidity of his reputation that Sinn Fein supporters began rubbishing his book months before he delivered the final draft'.

Sinn Fein's Rita O Hare says "no-one in the IRA has talked to him for years". How would she know. It certainly wasn't Gerry Adams for he was never in the Provos!

If the Provos were in power, Moloney would probably be the best banned (author) in the land. The difference with Moloney's book is the timing and impact. The former because all has changed … utterly, and the latter because it will have a political impact at a time of great political change. The pivotal character is Gerry Adams and his involvement in IRA operations in the 70's. Moloney maintains Adams was commander of the Belfast Brigade, at the time of the Disappeared, the Unkowns, No Go areas, etc. Adams maintains he was never a member of the IRA which is akin to Jomo Kenyata saying he was never in the Mau Mau. He has presented the facts here in stark and impassioned detail. It is a story of loss, pain, cruelty, lost lives, lost youth and unimaginable sacrifice. Those who carried the struggle will read this book and wince or weep. It grasps many nettles and exposes unpalatable truths. From the lean times of the Sixties to the rise (from the ashes of '69) of the Provisionals in the wake of the Unionist/RUC pogroms to herald a new phase in the fight for Irish freedom.

Between 'Freedom '74. '75. '76', 'Long Hot Summers', Ulsterisation of the war effort, the Hunger Strikes, Loughgall massacre, secret and not so secret talks, church and political intermediaries, backroom negotiations, deniable and undeniable deals and so on ad infinitum. Moloney's pragmatism is evident in the detail.

Barbed as the truth may be there is something here which differentiates it from more academic predecessors. There is a dimension of reality and historicism which puts it beyond accusations of rhetoric and falsehood. This is the story of the Provisionals, warts and all, from birth pangs to a political maturity that is currently manifest in the real politik of constitutional and parliamentary democracy.

The Good Friday Agreement heralded as a 'stepping stone' to a united Ireland, what ever that may be, has become a political tar baby with which many republicans are finding increasingly difficult to come to grips (or extract themselves). Moloney dedicates his book to all those 'who lost their lives in the Northern Ireland Troubles'. He should include all those who survived them and who like the characters in Joyce's Dubliners had painfully to come to terms with their own epiphanies. Moloney's book speeds up this process.








Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives





The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.
- Ayn Rand

Index: Current Articles

27 February 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Blair in Belfast
Sean Smyth


Bernadette Devlin McAliskey Deported from USA
Tommy McKearney


Sinn Fein's Helpful Hints for Upholding Harmony
Eamon Lynch


Jomo Kenyata in the Mau Mau - Never

John Nixon


What Practical Alternatives To Provo Republicanism exist?

Seaghán Ó Dubhslaine


Caoimhe Butterly
Anthony McIntyre


'The Left Isn't Listening' - Really Mr Cohen?

Paul de Rooij


Israel's Proxy War?

M. Shahid Alam


Jack Holland And The Obsolescence Of Republican Socialism
Liam O Ruairc


23 February 2003


Knowing Too Much and Saying It Too Well: Bernadette McAliskey Barred from US
Anthony McIntyre


A Unity of Purpose Against the War
Aine Fox


UK Complete Me
Jimmy Sands


The Left Isn't Listening
Nick Cohen


The Letters page has been updated.




The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices