After four decades, a former senior officer of the Irish Republican Army seeks to set the record—as he sees it—straight.
Conway was once a middle-class young man from Dublin. However, romantic and revolutionary, he determined to devote himself to the struggle for independence for all of Ireland. He became a Belfast volunteer in the Provisional IRA and trained in the arcane arts of armed revolution. Conway mentions little regarding the ideals of his chosen cause or the justice of the republican case against loyalists, assuming readers share his righteous conviction. The author offers considerable detail about training in firearms and bombs. Conway quickly became adroit at bomb-making and bank robbery, but he was soon caught transporting arms and jailed for three years, away from the increasing destruction, casualties, and murders of which he writes at length. Upon his release, the author was designated chief of intelligence, though his tenure may have been less effective than he wished. After a year, he quit the IRA; he rejoined in 1981 and quit permanently in 1993. Ultimately, after the Good Friday Agreement, Conway now concludes it was all for naught. The author is currently a solicitor in Dublin in criminal law. Along with the text’s litany of violence is a roll call of the large company of combatants he encountered during his years with the IRA. Among his comrades were Martin McGuinness, Billy McKee, and Seán MacStiofáin (he admired them) and Gerry Adams (not so much). His book, which has attained notoriety in Britain for confessions of some questioned IRA activities—will bewilder readers who don’t know the difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the Guildford Four and the MacGuire Seven. A listing of major characters and a glossary would help casual readers on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
For students of the topic.