The story of the rise of Sinn Féin, and how this threatens Irish democracy, by Mairia Cahill, a respected journalist and commentator – and a refugee from the world of the IRA.
Polls consistently show that Sinn Féin is now the most popular of all the political parties in Northern Ireland, with particularly strong support among young people. It has positioned itself as a party of the left that can solve the housing crisis, impose a more equitable tax and health system, and promises a united Ireland. The party is disciplined, single-minded and very well-funded by enormous donations from Irish America.
For those with memories of the Troubles, however, the prospect of a Sinn Féin government is alarming. Their relentless drive to hold a poll on the unification of Ireland is likely to worsen sectarian tensions already frayed by Brexit, and their refusal to condemn IRA atrocities shows they have no intention of coming to terms with their own past.
Mairia Cahill is a refugee from the world of the IRA: her great-uncle Joe was one of the main founders of the Provisional IRA and her grandfather inducted Gerry Adams. From an early age she was groomed for stardom within the organisation. But at the age of 16, she was raped repeatedly by a prominent Belfast IRA man, and the organisation swept his crimes under the carpet. Cahill went public in 2014 about what was done to her and how the IRA and Sinn Féin had covered it up. Rough Beast is Cahill's examination of the rise of this now very popular political party, and the implications for Irish democracy.