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The Path to Freedom  Amazon Co UK

Articles and Speeches by Michael Collins.  Mercier Press, Cork 1995; ISBN 1-85635-148-3, IR6.99

The Path to Freedom Book coverTHE BALLYMENA - BORN ACTOR, Liam Neeson, is currently starring in a Hollywood production of the life of Michael Collins. The film is due for cinema release in the early part of 1996. Collins led the IRA in the so-called `Tan War', negotiated the July 1921 Truce with the Lloyd George government and signed the Treaty which set up the Irish Free State. He subsequently headed the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State and was Commander-in-Chief of the National Army when civil war broke out in 1922. The publisher has likely seen the chance of making a few pounds out of the renewed interest in Collins and has nipped in early with this new edition. The last edition was published in 1968. This slim volume of articles and speeches was first published by Collins in 1922 to justify his position in signing the Treaty. Presumably he sought to stave off the impending Irish Civil War. If so, he was unsuccessful. Before the end of that year he was dead - slain at the hands of his former IRA comrades. The speeches cast a fascinating light on present-day events after a year of the Provo and loyalist paramilitary cease-fires. Collins eloquently wrote that, "If we wish to make our nation a free and a great and a good nation we can do so now. But we cannot do it if we are to fight among ourselves as to whether it is to be called Saorstat or Poblacht." DeValera and company didn't know a victory when they saw it but as Collins put it, "Those who are left in possession of the battlefield have won."

Traditional Irish republicans in the stamp of Ruari O'Bradaigh have long vilified Collins as a traitor but his policy was that of William Rooney, a founder of the original Sinn Fein movement and Cummann na nGaedheal, "Neglect no weapon which the necessities and difficulties of the enemy force him to abandon to us, and make each `concession' a stepping-stone to further things." Today's Provos have now adopted the Collins/Rooney strategy. Ulster patriots can also learn from the writings of this old enemy. Speaking of the Irish nationalist movement he wrote that "All the streams - economic, political, spiritual, cultural and militant meet together in the struggle of 1916-21 which has ended in a Peace ... the establishment of a free native Parliament which will be erected on a Constitution expressing the will of the Irish people." If the Ulster independence movement is to have any chance of success in winning freedom for our Motherland it will have to embrace a similar mixture of streams. We need a Pan-Ulster nationalist front, or as I termed it in our last issue an Ulster National Congress to lay the foundations of a free and independent Ulster with justice for all.

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