In the follow-up to the groundbreaking first volume of the Broad Church series,Â A Broad ChurchÂ Vol. 2 exposes the history of the Provisional movement in the Republic of Ireland in the tumultuous 1980s. This decade was to see a momentous sea change in the movement, with the political wing increasingly coming to fore of the republican struggle. This increased visibility led to a rethink on the republican movement’s policy of abstentionism both within the military and political movements, culminating in the historic overturning of the policy in the Republic.
This growing politicisation supplemented the armed struggle, which saw the most significant arms importations in the IRA’s history take place in the South during the mid-1980s despite the significant losses of theÂ Marita AnnÂ and theÂ Eksund. With the acquisition of an array of new weaponry, the IRA took on larger and more prestigious British targets, such as the attack on the British border fort at Derryard. The decade also saw a return to attacking targets in Britain in a concerted and systematic way for the first time since the mid-1970s. Moreover, although IRA members wereÂ forbidden from carrying out attacks on members of the security forces of the Republic, this rule would be broken several times during the 1980s, often with tragic outcomes.
Outlining the developments year by year, including the horror of the hunger strikes and the Irish state’s attempts to deal with the Provisional IRA,Â A Broad ChurchÂ Vol. 2 presents a comprehensive and fascinating picture of the evolution of the republican movement.