Because we’ve now got two seasons of Burn Notice under our belts and because, also, I am devoting this month’s entries to ladies of the trade of Irish descent, I think it’s time to re-visit our old friend Fiona Glenanne.
As I mentioned before, I like this character because there is a focus on trade-craft, but there’s an aspect to Fiona the show does not capitalize on and that is her past in the IRA. Americans in general are pretty forgiving of the IRA, but St. Patty’s Day and rebel drinking songs aside, there’s a pretty serious background to Fiona that isn’t explored on the show.
The character of Fiona is in her late 30s. This would well place her into some of the nastiness of “The Troubles” of the late 1980s and early 1990s in Northern Ireland. As a “Provo” (Provisional IRA, the truer name of the organization Fiona worked under), she would have been well-versed in weaponry, gunrunning, and bomb making, all of which has carried over into the show. She also wouldn’t be averse to the well planned execution from time to time. Sure, we laugh when Fiona talks about shooting the FBI men trailing Michael simply because they annoy her, but believe me, the Fiona of real life would be pretty darn serious.
The story of modern Ireland is vastly complicated. This isn’t simply a matter of reunification as much as it is fear, institutional prejudice, and classism. There are many reasons Northern Ireland was such a mess for so long.
But if you are up on your modern history, great inroads were made in the Anglo-Irish peace process under President Clinton and the real nail in the coffin of domestic terrorism on the Old Sod really came after 9/11. Gun money dried up like you wouldn’t believe and popular support seriously declined as people re-thought the idea of terrorism.
The reality is that since 2001, the IRA has devolved into a criminal organization. We’re talking Godfather type mob action. Not to say that there aren’t some die-hards in the IRA who still believe in armed insurrection as a means to reunifying Ireland. However, as history has taught us, insurgency is a profitable business. Many people stay in long after The Cause ceases to matter for no other reason than the person knows of no other life.
We’ve seen elements of this in Fiona as she continues to deal in illegal gun sales (particularly in the season 2 finale). Whether this is because Fee is a thug at heart or because being an ex-IRA operative isn’t exactly great resume material we don’t know. But the question itself certainly brings a whole new element to the character of trigger-happy-make-things-go-boom Fiona.
If the show is smart, a little back story on our buddy Fee would be in order for next season. I for one would be terribly curious to know what exactly Fiona is: True Believer or Irish Gangster?