The Irish Republican Army (IRA) has been at the heart of the struggle for a united Ireland for centuries. From its beginnings in the 17th century as a Protestant militia, to its involvement in the 1916 Easter Rising, to its bombing campaign during The Troubles, it has been a force to be reckoned with. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the true extent of its power became apparent.
In response to loyalist violence and discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland, the IRA adopted a new strategy – one based on unity between Catholic and Protestant workers. They encouraged civil disobedience and non-violent protest over armed rebellion. This approach was met with some resistance amongst those who wanted to see an end to British rule by any means necessary.
It was in this divided period that Peter Taylor wrote his acclaimed book ‘Behind the Mask: The IRA and Sinn Fein’. In it, he provides an intricate look into how the IRA rose up against oppressive forces in Northern Ireland during what many have called “The Troubles”. With vivid detail, Taylor recounts how Irish republicans worked together as one people towards common goals of freedom and justice for all despite deep divides between them based on religion and politics.
To get a deeper understanding of this tumultuous time in Irish history, viewers would do well to watch at least one of Taylor’s documentaries on this topic; such as his six part series entitled ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ or his two part feature ‘The Provos: The Story of the Provisional IRA’. By exploring these stories, viewers can gain an even more comprehensive understanding not only of the complex dynamics involved but also how far Ireland has come since then. Viewers should also consider looking into other documentaries that explore The Troubles further such as Ken Loach’s ‘Hidden Agenda’ or Tim Pat Coogan’s ‘The Long War’.
Taylor’s work offers an unparalleled look into this turbulent era through footage from interviews with key players within both sides of The Troubles as well as rare archive material from both sides of Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide – making it essential viewing for anyone interested in truly understanding what happened during this period in Irish history.