Peshmerga Mick by Documentary On One, RTÉ

In 2016, Irishman Michael Martin suffered a serious injury after a grenade exploded beside his head during a British Army training exercise. But while on medical leave, Michael didn’t return to Ireland, he went awol to fight ISIS in Iraq.

Michael is from Limerick, in the south west of Ireland. He’s grown up on a diet of hurling, hard knocks and trauma that has widened his horizons into the world’s deadliest conflict zone.

He’s watched the weight of airstrikes crush villages close to the so-called Islamic Caliphate; witnessed barren landscapes scarred by too many dead and blackened bodies to count, and guarded ISIS fighters fleeing towns near the besieged city of Mosul in Northern Iraq.

Michael is also a father and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who now makes a living as a builder on the GAA’s redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork.

But why did he risk everything to join Kurdish resistance group, the Peshmerga, who have been leading the fight against ISIS? And how did he end up at the centre of a near diplomatic incident that involved three governments and led to a showdown with top security agency – MI6?

This is an Irish soldier’s story set against the most urgent conflict of our times in the Middle East, and one that asks urgent questions of Michael and the decisions that brought him to war.

Who *pays* to fight ISIS? What are the demands of a war now fought on Facebook as well as the frontline? And where does Michael fit in a world where devastating attacks have been inflicted on Manchester and London in recent months?

Documentary On One: Peshmerga Mick is a searing and challenging testimony of a brutal war we mostly read about – but one which Michael rushed to join.