Tuesday, June 2, 2020

the last book I ever read (Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, excerpt fifteen)

from Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe:

Once O’Rawe started telling Mackers the story, he found that he could not stop. He began to cry, choking up at first, then bawling uncontrollably like a child. For twenty years, he had been walking around with the weight of those six dead strikers on his conscience, and after two decades of silence he felt purged, emotionally, to be talking about it. “I don’t give a fuck anymore, this is coming out,” he told Mackers. “Guys died here for fucking nothing!”

But when he reflected on the notion that Adams might have cynically determined that a steady supply of martyrs was indispensable in launching Sinn Féin as a viable political party, O’Rawe was forced to concede a jarring possibility: were it not for that decision, the war might never have ended. As Ed Moloney subsequently wrote, “The hunger strike made Sinn Féin’s successful excursion into electoral politics possible: the subsequent tension between the IRA’s armed struggle and Sinn Féin’s politics produced the peace process and ultimately the end of the conflict. Had the offer of July 1981 not been undermined, it is possible, even probable, that none of this would have happened. There will be those who will say that the end justified the means, that the achievement of peace was a pearl whose price was worth paying.” To O’Rawe it seemed that anyone capable of playing such a long and calculating game and dispatching six men to an unnecessary death must be a genius of political strategy—but also a sociopath.

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