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Thread: Radical Islam

  1. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    775

    Default Re: Radical Islam

    An interesting character, Tim Pat. He was raised in comfortable circumstances - indeed, one might say, in the bosom of the "pro-Treaty" Republican aristocracy in the South. His father was a War of Independence IRA officer who took the pro-Treaty side in the subsequent Civil War. Coogan the Elder was rewarded with a successful police career, rising to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of the Garda Síochána (civil police force). His mother was the daughter of a police officer. The impression made on him by this upbringing may be a reminder that even the pro-Treaty side (the "winners" of the Civil War, but not of the subsequent peace) were often no less Republican in their outlook than the anti-Treaty "diehards", a fact often missed by British commentators. It is worth reflecting that Michael Collins - the pro-Treaty side's "Saint and Martyr" and the dominant force in the pro-Treaty government up to the time of his death - was a firm adherent to the chimerical view that the Boundary Commission would reduce the new Northern Ireland statelet to a non-viable area which could be destabilized to destruction by covert action against it on the part of the Free State government. The "unexpected" outcome of the Boundary Commission, along with a "diehard" bullet in the head denied us of knowledge of where such a "destabilizing" policy might have lead.

    Tim Pat was, essentially, a journalist. He is not, as far as I know, an academically educated historian of any sort. His pro-Treaty background did not prevent him from spending many years as editor of the Irish Press (RIP), a newspaper founded by Éamonn de Valera and long-regarded as being, to some extent, a mouthpiece of the Fianna Fáil (ex-anti-Treaty) Party. The nuances of all this may be difficult to grasp for non-Irishpersons, but it amounts to saying that he was steeped in Irish Republican thinking, but not inclined towards the physical force school of Republicanism. By the time he came to edit the Irish Press (indeed, long before that), neither the inheritors of the pro-Treaty nor of (most) of the anti-Treaty factions (the latter represented by Fianna Fáil) were at all attracted to the "armed struggle" approach to political reunification of the island.

    Where does this point in considering the utility of his book, "The IRA" ? First published in 1970, and updated most recently in 2000, one would expect that one would get a narrative well-informed, well-written (in journalistic style) and persuasive, but strongly coloured by pro-Irish Republican "inclination". One might summarize by saying that, while exhaustive in its attempt to forge a history of the IRA specifically, there is a consistent colouring of sympathy to the Republican position in general. He does not endorse the violence of the "physical force" school. However, he has to be seen at times as something of an apologist for this position. He regards the "Troubles" as, essentially, the result of intransigence on the part of the Northern Ireland Unionists and their sectarian state, supported by British governments that regarded Northern Ireland affairs as a marginal distraction to be "managed" locally. Unfortunately, when the Stormont government proved incompetent to do this - and even initiated serious errors of policy and management that made its situation untenable - the British Government inherited the legacy of Unionist mismanagement and oppression without much of a clue as to how to solve the problem. It is a point of view, if arguably simplistic.

    Is the book worth reading ? I would say "yes", with reservations. The bias obviously needs always to be borne in mind. Also, it has to be said that, for non-Irish readers especially, the book can at times be confusing - perhaps inevitable in view of the complexity of the IRA's secret nature, its aversion to creating records, and the complex history of "splits" and the like. Nonetheless, the research is impressive, the access to oral sources is useful, and the book is, in the end, not a bad read. I agree with 32Bravo - well worth reading, but Buyer Beware ! Yours from the Den of the South Armagh Sniper (hopefully not to be "reactivated"), JR.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    2,923

    Default Re: Radical Islam

    Thank you for that. Interesting. I suppose that in the great scheme of things my opinion of the book is of little consequence. It isn't that important an issue to me. I would guess that if he was writing fiction one might put him in the Kipling or Bernard Cornwell category. Entertaining and informative, but not academic.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


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