DUBLIN - Dan Keating, an IRA member and the last surviving veteran of Ireland's 1919-21 war of independence from Britain, has died, his nursing home and fringe political party said. He was 105.
Mr. Keating joined the First Kerry Brigade of the Irish Republican Army in 1920 and, as a rifleman, took part in two major 1921 ambushes that left at least five police officers, four British soldiers, and five IRA members dead.
"When you are involved in an ambush with a crowd of men, you wouldn't know who killed who," Mr. Keating said in a March interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. "But the prospect never troubled me."
He joined the IRA faction that opposed the 1921 peace treaty with Britain and fought against former IRA colleagues in Ireland's 1922-23 civil war. He was eventually captured by Irish Free State forces and spent seven months in a prisoner-of-war camp.
In a June 2006 interview, Mr. Keating said he considered Free State soldiers far more brutal than the British forces they both had fought against.
"They were worse than the Black and Tans," he said, using the nickname of Britain's auxiliary troops used during the war of independence, "and they committed some awful atrocities. In one week they murdered 19 people - comrades I knew only too well. They were just gone overnight."
He served several short terms in prison for insurrectionist activity, including an aborted assassination attempt on a former general of Free State forces, and participated in a 1939-40 IRA bombing campaign in London.
Mr. Keating spent his entire adult life committed to the most hard-line branch of Irish republicanism on offer. He said Ireland should never be at peace until the border dividing the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, both states he considered illegitimate, was eliminated and the island united under one government.
In 1970, he switched his allegiance from the "Official" IRA to a new, Northern Ireland-based faction called the Provisional IRA that spent 27 years trying to overthrow the British territory.
When the Provisionals called a 1997 cease-fire and supported Sinn Fein politicians' push for a negotiated settlement, he switched support to a breakaway faction, Republican Sinn Fein, that opposed compromise and continued bombings. He became honorary patron of the fringe party in 2004.
Republican Sinn Fein president Ruairi O Bradaigh said Mr. Keating was committed to the cause "to the very day of his death and an inspiration to all true republicans."