As an ex-IRA "blanketman," already imprisoned in his teens, interned for 17 years at Long Kesh, Anthony McIntyre knows his subject by having lived most of his life as a volunteer. After prison, he earned a Ph.D. in political science at Queen's. This Belfast native collects various articles and interviews from the past decade or so that list the deathbed rattles and defiant ralliery of Sinn Féin, the IRA, and the stalemated peace process after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The chicanery with which this deal was finagled to a rank-and-file previously misled about the continuation of their armed struggle led to McIntyre's break with the "Republican Movement" at least as constituted under the control of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, and their devoted cadre.
Becoming a leading voice for those who disagreed, not for a return to the "physical-force tradition" but a renewal of the ideals which the IRA he and others joined had abandoned, Dr McIntyre combines two rarely encountered areas of expertise. As an insider, he betters the academics and reporters in relating the perspective of an Irish republican who's proven his credibility on the blanket. As a commentator, he's able to silence the "militant Republicans of the verbal type" eager to perch on barstools or boast to the naive their exploits, fueled with Dutch courage.
Admirably given his doctoral competence, McIntyre never lapses into jargon (although "etiology" escaped onto his keyboard once). He avoids sounding sanctimonious or overbearing. He, as with his model Orwell, manages to keep the human dimension within his sustained criticism of the IRA leadership that, for 320 pages, motivates his setting down-- with as much proof as can be summoned against an organization committed to double speak and clandestine councils-- the reasons why one can be principled, yet oppose the GFA packaged as "the peace process." Furthermore, he relates details to us in a calm, wry manner so that any newcomer can clearly understand the participants who support or oppose this intricate strategy.
Chapters cover the GFA, republican dead, The Colombia 3, Decommissioning, the 1981 Hunger Strikers, the supression of dissent, Robert McCartney's murder, informers "Stakeknife" and Denis Donaldson, comrades who speak out against the Adams-McGuinness party line, the dissembling by SF and the IRA in response, the Northern Bank robbery, policing under the PSNI reforms, and the strategic failure of the Republican Movement. Although all are collections of journalism at the time of the events, without the benefit of update or the ease of hindsight, they provide, from one who wrote what he heard and saw and thought in the West Belfast heartland for Gerry Adams of Ballymurphy, a counterspin to the PR machine that dominated so much of the media's attention during the past dozen years in the North of Ireland.
(My blog via my profile has a much longer, detailed review of this book.)