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The Provisional IRA

The Provisional IRA

Tommy McKearney


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This book analyses the underlying reasons behind the formation of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), its development, where this current in Irish republicanism is at present and its prospects for the future.

Tommy McKearney, a former IRA member who was part of the 1980 hunger strike, challenges the misconception that the Provisional IRA was only, or even wholly, about ending partition and uniting Ireland. He argues that while these objectives were always the core and headline demands of the organisation, opposition to the old Northern Ireland state was a major dynamic for the IRA's armed campaign. As he explores the makeup and strategy of the IRA he is not uncritical, examining alternative options available to the movement at different periods, arguing that its inability to develop a clear socialist programme has limited its effectiveness and reach.

This authoritative and engaging history provides a fascinating insight into the workings and dynamics of a modern resistance movement.
'A reminder, whether agreeing with the arguments presented or otherwise, of the need for debate concerning the past, the present and the future'
Pete Shirlow, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast
'One of those 'must read' books for anyone interested either in the struggle within Northern Ireland itself or in the overall relationship between England and Ireland'
Tim Pat Coogan, former editor of the Irish Press and author of The I.R.A (1970; 2000).
'If we had to choose one person who served in the ranks of the IRA to contextualise the organisation's development from revolution to reform it would be Tommy McKearney'
Anthony McIntyre, former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover
Contents vii
List of Figures viii
Preface ix
Acknowledgement xii
Introduction: From Orange State to Sectarian State 1
1. Police Batons Respond to Demand for Civil Rights 20
2. Unionist Determination to Deny Democracy 33
3. The Violent Storms of August '69 47
4. Widespread Conflict Looms 55
5. An Emerging Force 66
6. Training People for Insurrection? 74
7. Attempting to Quell the Insurgency by Bloodshed and Blandishment 81
8. Irish Republicanism and Class 90
9. The Political and Military Strategy of the Provisional IRA 101
10. The War in England 119
11. Britain's Response 128
12. Reviewing Strategy in the Mid-1970s 137
13. The Gradual Adoption of Parliamentarianism 144
14. Options and Opportunities 156
15. The Road Less Travelled ... The Left Alternative 164
16. Parliamentary Sinn Féin, 'Surrender and Re-grant' 172
17. From Armalites to Populist Conformity 183
18. General Election Upset in the South 192
19. The End of a Journey 201
20. A New Republic and a Relevant Republicanism 207
Notes 215
Index 229