Whenever someone learns that I am in the IRA, a moment of awkwardness inevitably follows. They are unsure how to regard me. A lot of people in Ireland rhetorically support the Ra, but seem uneasy when they meet an actual member. Our relationship with the public has always been ambivalent at best.
Sometimes, they manage the courage to ask why I joined. To this query I honestly have trouble finding the words to respond. It seems so obvious yet so difficult to explain to someone who doesn't get it. Why be an Irishman at all, I feel like saying. Why work at your job and raise a family and go out with friend if you would let it all be taken away by a stranger from across the sea?
What I would most like them to know about me is that I am just an ordinary Irishman. I don't consider myself special or elite in any way, and I don't take special pride in the secrecy of what I do. Some Irishmen choose to serve their country by joining the military or the Garda, I simply chose to serve in a different way. You have nothing to fear from me unless you seek to oppress my people or take what is mine.
To be exact, I am a member of the New IRA you may have been hearing about in the news lately. My father was in the Provos, and he died during the Troubles. I was too young to join at the time.
As much as I would like to spend this post ranting about the injustices of the Partition, the betrayal of the Good Friday agreement, etc, right now I have bigger fish to fry.