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JOE CAHILL: A LIFE IN THE IRA. (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe


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Guardedly told but intriguing story from "old IRA" vet 17. Dezember 2005
Von John L Murphy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This book plays out as if a sports broadcast, with journalist Brendan Anderson as the anchorman and Joe Cahill the "color commentary"--for those readers familiar with 20c Irish republicanism, necessarily there's a lot already familiar. Anderson efficiently tells the story of the IRA's campaign during the 1940s through Cahill's own involvement in the shooting of Frank Murphy, a policeman in their native Belfast, and for which Joe Williams, 17, was executed. Much of this narrative, in fact, takes place from prison, where Cahill spent considerable time over the next few decades, as he was also instumental as a senior leader trusted by the generation of Provos who would revive the old IRA that had nearly become extinguished to fight again as the "Troubles" flared again at the end of the 60s.

Cahill here reveals that very early on, he insisted upon a politically adept as well as blunt "physical-force" strategy. This did not mean, however, that he would cast his lot with the "Official IRA" Marxist faction; he dismissed their ideology and in this book you sense the disdain that Cahill had for his colleagues who, in his opinion, were misled under Cathal Goulding into espousing communism as Ireland's savior. Cahill offers that Goulding, in prison, may have been influenced by Klaus Fuchs, who had been jailed for Soviet espionage by the British.

Prison life here is explored; you learn how "comms" were transmitted, how early tricks of evasion and communication that had been learned in the 40s at Crumlin Road jail or in the 50s or 60s or 70s--all of these decades saw him incarcerated for long stints prepared the tactics that would inspire those later IRA men at Long Kesh to resist and plot with similar dexterity.

The later part of the book suffers by comparison. The halfway point of the story comes precisely at the 1969/70 split in the IRA between the leftists and the more traditional supporters, and the pages that follow tell of more previously and thoroughly documented events that lack the freshness of the previous scenes. Still, Cahill offers new insights from his legal and then illegal visits to the US as fundraiser and liaison for IRA support during the 70s and 80s. You learn too that in his later 70s Portlaoise term, he inspired Martin McGuinness as did veteran Frank Steele his protege Gerry Adams in another prison, and how the gradual evolution of the two-pronged approach to the ballot box and the armalite took hold among the Northern Command.

Cahill was emphatic that the squandered campaigns of the 1950s that failed, as well as what he regards as the futility of the radical Officials attempt to paint Ireland red would be avoided by the newer republicans. He adds that if Sinn Fein had been in place on a wide scale during the Bobby Sands strike and the ensuing island-wide nationalist revulsion against the British rule under Thatcher that followed his death, that SF could have taken power in the 26 counties and brought a quick end to the partition of Ireland.

I concluded this book sadly. Many of its revelations are necessarily cloaked in parts in anonymity and sources that will never be revealed, such is the nature of any account of republicanism today. But this tangential quality is not the book's only distinction from many other biographies. The absence of a counterbalance to so much planning and plotting leaves a void. You end this efficiently written study having learned a lot about Cahill, but nothing about his wife Annie and their seven children, who do not even receive names here. You do see a picture of six daughters lined up--as if one was born each year for a period of, say seven or eight years!--around the happy parents, and you only wonder what life was like for them while Cahill was jailed, on the run, in hiding, or in far off America for so much of his long life. The personal costs of his devotion to the Cause, as McGuinness alludes to them also in a brief afterword, are barely addressed by Cahill or Anderson. While this may be for privacy or security reasons, it does leave one saddened.
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