An IRA soldier
*Book Review: Amazon.com
Copyright © 2007 by Ralph Couey
Written content only
Written content only
“KILLING RAGE” By Eamon Collins
Reviewed By Ralph Couey
“Killing Rage” vividly recounts the compelling personal journey of Eamon Collins through the violent morass of Northern Ireland politics; the evolution from committed Republican, to terrorist, to an activist for peace.
For most Americans, the dominant impression of the war in Northern Ireland would be a confused mélange of news video images, reports of exploded bombs, and dead women and children. With little exception, the violent tactics of the Irish Republican Army have met with universal condemnation. Even a basic understanding of the roots of the conflict and the reasons for its perpetuation would prove quite beyond the ability of most to recount. For the first time, however, the words and passion of Eamon Collins provide an honest, if chilling account of his involvement in the conflict as a member in various capacities of the Provisional Wing of the Irish Republican Army between 1978 and 1987.
The book opens abruptly and brutally with a detailed description of Collins’ first operation in December 1978, the killing of Major Ivan Toombs of the Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR). As Collins works to gather intelligence on his target he takes us through the process of dealing with a very human conflict::
“For me, the more I found out about him, the more admirable I found him. I liked him and felt that in other circumstances we might have been friends.” (Page 20)
“...to strike at Toombs was to strike at an ancient colonial system of elites. Killing Toombs would also be a symbol of our dogged resistance to inequality and injustice...” (Page 23)
“He was an idea, a force, not a person with a face. He had no humanity for me.” (Page 17)
This apparent moral conflict occurs repeatedly throughout the book in Collins’ continual debates with himself over the effectiveness of political violence. Collins also spends some time discussing the roots of the Irish conflict, which began as a growing dislike between the Protestant majority and his Catholic minority, which he characterizes as “... (The) Catholic underclass, marginalized, on the periphery of society, jobless, poorly educated, powerless and voiceless.” (Page 12) Students of the American Civil Rights Movement might recognize some clear parallels between life as a Catholic in Northern Ireland and life as an African-American in this country. Indeed, Collins recounts several incidents during both his and his parent’s childhood of acts of discrimination and outright violence committed against Catholics by Protestant civilians, police, and military. As might be expected, this violence went largely unpunished. It was out of this atmosphere of hate that the Republican movement gained strength. Over time, however, it changed from just a civil rights movement to “...a very ultra-left kind of Marxism.” Collins continues,