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The Brian Keenan Interview - Leading IRA strategist in 'The Long War' speaks to An Phoblacht

26 March, 2008

STARTING THIS THURSDAY (27 March), An Phoblacht, the Sinn Féin weekly, carries the first instalment of a three-part interview with Brian Keenan, one of the foremost strategists of the Irish Republican Army in the war with Britain throughout the 1970s and leading up to the 1994 IRA cessation of military operations.

In a rare interview, with Jim Gibney, Brian Keenan tells, in his own words, his background, his family life from when he was born on Belfast's New Lodge Road in 1941, his father serving in the Royal Air Force at a Second World War air base which was later to become the site of Full Sutton Prison, where his son was later to serve a prison sentence for IRA activities.

Brian Keenan recalls his experiences of anti-Catholic discrimination in the North of Ireland, loyalist sectarian pogroms against Catholic homes, the effects trade unionism and the civil rights campaign had on his politics, and his joining the IRA in 1968.

Brian talks candidly about the state of the IRA and the Republican Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, even about having a "stand-up row" with the IRA Chief of Staff in the early 1970s over the Army leadership's inability to supply Armalite rifles in sufficient quantities for the large numbers of recruits.

He explains why the new IRA leadership saw England as "a very important theatre of war for both the IRA and the British" and the opportunities and the difficulties that it posed for the IRA.

And Brian Keenan, a most skilled exponent of guerrilla warfare, explains that he now believes that the way forward is no longer armed struggle but the path of radical political struggle.

It is an interview that will be keenly read by supporters and opponents of the IRA alike for a first-hand insight into a period of history when the modern IRA was "the cutting edge" of a struggle that was to herald the historic Irish Peace Process and power sharing between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party.

q For more information, contact An Phoblacht Editor Seán Mac Brádaigh at 018733611 or 018733839

q E-mail: [email protected]

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