[Marxism] Tommy McKearney review of Moloney book

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Dec 13 18:27:25 MST 2006

Here's veteran IRA activist and former hunger-striker, and a current
leading organiser of the Irish Independent Workers Union, Tommy
McKearney, on the Moloney book about the IRA.  The review appeared in
'Fourthwrite' in October 2002, under the title "That Book":

That Book 

A Secret History of the IRA by Ed Moloney

There may be a small handful of trusting souls somewhere who believe
Gerry Adams when he says that he has never been a member of the IRA. If
such a group exists, it is not making itself heard in its efforts to
substantiate his denial. 

If Adams' credibility was not so grievously undermined by his very hard
to accept protestations of 'non-membership', his other comments about
other issues raised in the Moloney book (A Secret History of the IRA)
might deserve more credence. The blunt fact is that at this point in
time, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that that the widely
respected journalist Ed Moloney (with his legendary network of contacts)
is emerging as the man with the more convincing story to tell.  

Apart from the semi-farcical nature of Adams' IRA membership issue,
sensational disclosures about the 'Disappeared', Bloody Friday, the
Loughgall ambush and intercepted gun-running operations have, naturally
enough, caught media attention. It is unfortunate, though, that these
incidents tend to distract attention away from the main trust of the

In reality, the most explosive revelation in Moloney's  book is that
Gerry Adams entered into surreptitious negotiations with the British
Government long before the 1992 ceasefire and more crucially - long
before he informed the rest of the Republican Movement.

All but the simple minded know that to send such a signal (i.e. that the
single most influential person in the Republican Movement was keen to
discuss what in essence was a negotiated surrender) posed grave dangers
for those unwittingly continuing with the struggle. Moloney may not have
produced the 'smoking gun' evidence to prove that the British Government
and its intelligence agencies decided to cold-bloodedly clear a path for
these negotiations. Few will doubt, however, that the government that
sank the General Belgrano in order to steer the course of events in the
South Atlantic war, would be too squeamish or too ladylike to arrange to
have a series of lethal attacks directed against the IRA and its

There will be those who say that it was a matter or vital necessity to
end the IRA campaign and that the end result has justified whatever
subterfuge and bloodshed was employed towards that end. Such judgements
are of course usually coloured by one's personal outlook but it is worth
pointing to two important facts.

In the first instance, the series of 'exemplary' executions carried out
against the republican heartland of Tyrone has left a deep and bitter
legacy in the folk memory of an area that is only reluctantly subdued.
Moreover, the current process - the Good Friday Agreement - is not so
flawless or secure that it guarantees permanent peace and stability. In
the event that the good Friday Agreement falls apart, the Adams strategy
will no longer have the cover of  real politik  which  says that
something may be nasty but can be excused if it works.

In the current climate, Moloney's book is unlikely to do more than
discomfort the Sinn Fein party and leader. However, if circumstance were
to radically change for any reason, it could prove to be one of the
major factors in the implosion of the Sinn Fein party's credibility and

Tommy McKearney 

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