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Cardiff University academic win prestigious award for book on the IRA

15 Oct 2021 2 minute read
Dr Thomas Leahy. Cardiff University

A Cardiff University academic has been awarded a prestigious Irish award for his book on the IRA.

Dr Thomas Leahy, a senior lecturer in politics, has been named as the recipient of this year’s Brian Farrell book prize by the Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI).

His book, The Intelligence War Against the IRA, examines whether British intelligence was able to pressure the IRA into ceasefires during the 1970s and eventually a political compromise in 1998.

Since studying Northern Ireland at university at Kings College London, Dr Leahy, who teaches British and Irish Politics and Contemporary History at the School of Law and Politics, has investigated the Northern Ireland peace process.

His book is the result of many years of interviewing former Irish republican prisoners and UK security force members plus research into Irish and UK archival materials and memoirs by all sides of the conflict.

It is a regional account of what took place and which shows that although UK intelligence had its successes, it also had its failures.

‘Welcome surprise’ 

Dr Leahy said: “I am absolutely delighted the PSAI Brian Farrell book prize has been kindly awarded to my book. It’s a prestigious prize won by many a good book over the years, so to be the recipient for my first book is a great but very welcome surprise.

“I’d like to thank again all contributors to the research, be they Cardiff Politics/IR and other academics offering advice and guidance, interviewees or archival staff in Ireland and the UK who made the research on this challenging topic possible. Without their input, the book would never have been possible to create.”

Chair of the PSAI Brian Farrell Book Prize Committee Dr Liam Kneafsey said: “The committee identified Dr Leahy’s book as a gripping and richly researched, analytical history of the intelligence war in Northern Ireland.

“The book was innovative in its use of multiple strands of extensive evidence to consider the value of different explanations of how the conflict developed and the emergence of the peace process, effective in tackling various myths and common misunderstandings of the conflict and the strategic goals of key players. It was written in a rigorous but highly engaging and accessible manner.”

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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
2 years ago

Among the ‘tactics’ employed by british intelligence in the north of ireland was the running of loyalist deaths squads 😱☹️

arthur owen
2 years ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Unlike the gallant IRA who only took part in fair fights against soldiers,at least they did in 1916.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
2 years ago

I recall a story a submariner friend of mine told me of how his sub had been for weeks watching the doings of the IRA off the coast of south west Ireland. Until one day Jimmy the One made a hash of coming to periscope depth and the sub leapt out of the water like a dolphin for all to see. Their mission was compromised and they came home under a cloud.

j humphrys
j humphrys
2 years ago

Intelligence services seem to be out of control. I hope future Cymru does not go in for this stuff.

arthur owen
2 years ago
Reply to  j humphrys

You can wish now but if an independent Wales had you in charge you would find it was neccessary.

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