Comedian Paul Merton understands why his grandfather joined the IRA
HAVE I Got News For You? panellist Paul Merton has said he understands why his grandfather joined the IRA after serving in the British army.
In an upcoming episode of BBC One's Who Do You Think You Are?, the comedian learns how his maternal grandfather James Power, from Crooke, Co Waterford enlisted in the Royal Irish Regiment, aged 23, at the outbreak of the First World War.
He was then deployed on the streets of Dublin during the Easter Rising before serving in Greece, Egypt and the Battle for Jerusalem.
However, in 1920 he returned his military medals and joined the fight for Irish independence.
Merton (62) – real name Paul Martin – said he doesn't blame his grandfather for joining the republican army.
"Firing at his fellow Irishmen… that could instil a radicalism in you I think. I don't blame him to be honest," he said.
“You think you're going to France to fight the Germans, and then you're in Dublin and ordered to shoot at your mates.”
Merton has previously turned down the opportunity to take part in Who Do You Think You Are? following the protests of his parents. After their death in 2013, the comedian decided to revisit his family history.
"I think my mum would have taken the attitude that it was a long time ago and [the IRA] was a different organisation then, and it was about getting away from British rule," he told the Radio Times.
“They were an occupied country fighting for independence. Having gone through the experience he's gone through, I can completely understand why my grandfather would have been anti-British – it was very plausible, very understandable."
He said that his extended family in Ireland had been moved by the episode.
:: Who Do You Think You Are? airs on Wednesday, August 28 on BBC One at 9pm