Like most American supporters of the IRA, we did not celebrate the death of innocents, we did not hate Protestants, and we did not provide any material support. We did, however, believe that the United Kingdom was an occupying force in Northern Ireland, which the Irish people had a right to fight. Since a standard military engagement was out of the question, that left only acts of terror.
I remember going as a child with my parents to hear Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers perform at a little restaurant just outside Philly. They would sing Makem’s classic, “Four Green Fields,” about the old woman Ireland, whose fourth county was still in bondage. He sang, “But my sons had sons, as brave as were their fathers, my fourth green field will bloom once again said she.” It was stirring. It literally got my Irish up.
There is little similarity between the goals and techniques of ISIS and those of the IRA. The latter was not typically targeting Americans, and they were not seeking to expand territorial control beyond the borders of the island. But there are striking similarities between the actions of the IRA and those of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas. In fact, the Irish and Palestinian terror organizations often worked in concert.
In retrospect, I regret my feelings about the IRA, though clearly I had no impact on events.