Having grown up in Massachusetts amongst a fair number of Irish-Catholics, it wasn't uncommon to hear a lunkhead wearing an oversized Larry Bird jersey, slurping on a Bud bottle, mumbling some nonsense about the nobility of the Irish Republican Army. In Boston, a criminal gang of thugs, knee-cappers, murderers, and half-baked Marxist theoreticians were venerated in the 1970s and 80s (and no, I'm not talking about the Bulger family). On Broadway in South Boston, one could find Belfast-style murals proclaiming that an "Ireland unfree will never be at peace." Of the threats of violence routinely delivered in the neighborhood, this was small beer. Of course Johnny Adair and the Shankhill types were just as bad, but there was, in this subliterate milieu of NORAID donors, never any question of that.
But that was a long time ago—before Omagh and 9/11—and not something I'd given much thought to in recent years. And then someone went and asked actress Rose McGowen, the star of a forthcoming IRA-themed film called Fifty Dead Men Walking, what she thought of Republican terror. The Telegraph reports:
McGowan stars in Fifty Dead Men Walking, a film based on the memoirs of Martin McGartland, an RUC Special Branch agent who infiltrated the IRA in the 1980s.
"I imagine, had I grown up in Belfast, I would 100 per cent have been in the IRA," said the actress, whose father is Irish.
"My heart just broke for the cause. Violence is not to be played out daily and provide an answer to problems, but I understand it."
In the same interview, she said she found the Union Jack flying in North Ireland "deeply offensive." A Unionist MP asked McGowen if the IRA she romanticized, the one she was 100 percent behind, included those brave freedom fighters (like Gerry Adams) involved in the abduction and of murder of Jean McConville, the mother of 10 and convert to Catholicism who was targeted for helping a dying British soldier, shot in front of her apartment in the Lower Falls Road. For those interested in an objective history of the IRA, I recommend Peter Taylor's brilliant book Provos or Killing Rage, by former Republican terrorist Eamon Collins. (Shortly after the release of Killing Rage, Collins was gunned down while walking his dog.)