Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein (1997)


Aftermath of the Real IRA attack in Omagh in 1998: 29 dead (AFP)
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Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein (1997)

A detailed study of the changes in the strategy and focus of the IRA and Sinn Fein from the 1970s to the peace process. Peter Taylor, who served as a journalist in Northern Ireland for many years, He interviewed many of the IRA members who were actually involved in the events described and has used their accounts to bring the history to life.

Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein

by Peter Taylor

Never before has an outsider had such access to record the remarkable history of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein - the "Provos" - from their dramatic beginnings to the critical juncture they have reached today.

Thirty years ago, the Irish Republican Army was a fading memory. It had dumped its guns and embraced left-wing politics. The result was that when sectarian violence erupted in 1969 and nationalist areas came under loyalist attack, only a handful of IRA veterans were on hand to defend the. Taunting graffiti read "IRA - I ran away." The consequences were momentous. The IRA split and the Provisional IRA was born to become the most famous organisation of its kinds in the Western world. For more than a quarter of a century the Provisional IRA have fought a bloody campaign, in which over 3,000 lives have been lost, to force the British government to disengage from Northern Ireland and re-unify Ireland.

Today their leaders, once branded as 'terrorists', have been feted at the White house and held talks with British Ministers. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are now Westminster Members of the British Parliament, steering the 'Provos' to what they hope will be an historic peace in Ireland. In a series of remarkable, first-hand interviews with the Provisional IRA who fought on the military and political fronts and the British who countered them, this book tells the extraordinary story of the evolution of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein over 30 bloody years, from gunmen and bombers to potential statesman.

The author, Peter Taylor, has reported Northern Ireland for more than 25 years and has made over 50 documentaries on the conflict for ITV's 'This Week' programme through the seventies and for BBC TV's 'Panorama' through the eighties and nineties. In addition he has authored several series for BBC television - 'Families at War,' 'States of Terror,' '25 Bloody Years,' and 'Defence of the Realm.' In 1995 he was presented with the Royal Television Society's presigous Judges' Award for his lifetime's coverage of the conflict. This was added to three other RTS Awards he has received for his BBC documentaries 'Stalker,' 'The Volunteer,' and 'The Maze.' He has also won several other domestic and international awards for his work.

This is his fifth book on the subject of Northern Ireland.


Peter Taylor, BBC

Peter Taylor was born and brought up in Yorkshire. He read Classics at Cambridge University and after a brief stint as a teacher joined ITV's This Week programme in 1967 as a researcher.

In 1969 Peter became a reporter on topical daily TV programme Today With Eamonn Andrews, before eventually returning to This Week as a reporter, where his first programme was Bloody Sunday, examining the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Peter Taylor being attacked by Loyalists in Belfast

Peter is one of the foremost commentators on the Irish conflict

Peter would return to the subject of Northern Ireland throughout his career, becoming one of the foremost commentators on the Troubles.

While at This Week he also made landmark programmes on smoking and the politics of tobacco.

In 1980 Peter joined the BBC as a reporter on Panorama, a role he remained in for most of the 1980s before moving to BBC Two to present Brass Tacks from Manchester and then Public Eye from London.

In the 1990s Peter made a series of documentaries, including films on Bloody Sunday and the Maze prison, and then concentrated on making authored series including States of Terror, True Spies, and his Irish trilogy, Provos, Loyalists and Brits.

Since the 9/11 attacks Peter has focussed on the al-Qaeda terror network and Islamist extremism, making a BBC Two trilogy and several Panorama specials on the issue, the most recent of which examined the liquid bomb plot which paralysed global air travel in August 2006.

Peter's distinguished career has garnered many prizes, including Royal Television Society (RTS) Journalist of the Year, two RTS Judges Awards and three RTS journalism awards for individual programmes, the Grierson best documentary award, Broadcasting Press Guild Award and two Two Bafta nominations.

Peter has been awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree by Bradford University and in 2002 received an OBE for services to broadcasting. This autumn he was awarded the James Cameron Memorial Prize "for work as a journalist that combined moral vision and professional integrity".

He has written eight books, most related to the Irish conflict, terrorism and political violence.


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