This is the compelling story of a former Jesuit who traveled to Ireland in order to better understand the IRA, its widespread support among Irish Catholics, and the country’s continuing civil unrest. Author Douglass McFerran, an American, made many key contacts in Northern Ireland, enabling him to gain unprecedented access to republican groups. He met with members of the Orange Lodge and the heavily armed Royal Ulster Constabulary; he had tea with leaders of Sinn Fein; and he participated in the annual Internment March on the streets of Belfast. In this book he provides a history of the conflict in Northern Ireland and goes beyond the propaganda on both sides to understand the causes of today’s violence and explore what would be necessary to end it.
McFerran wrote this book at the suggestion of individuals within the Irish republican community. During its writing he had the cooperation of several Sinn Fein leaders and past and present members of the IRA. McFerran came to believe that the violent situation in Northern Ireland can best be explained by considering the manner in which the English government, through genocide and civil repression, attempted to eliminate Irish resistance to English rule. The failure of the Anglo-Irish War to achieve a united Irish government brought on a republican movement with a political expression in Sinn Fein and a military expression in the guerrilla activities of the Irish Republican Army. The continued failure of the English government to negotiate with Irish nationalists can be attributed to a desire to maintain the political support of predominantly Protestant unionists, who since 1913 have pledged armed resistance to any effort to allow a Catholic-led government to rule over them.