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December 04, 2004

News 12/03/04 - 4 Day Deadline Set

News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 12/03/04 Four-Day Deadline Set For Power-Sharing Deal
SF 12/03/04 Discussions Cannot Be Drawn On Interminably
SM 12/03/04 Paisley Issues Fresh 'Ultimatum' To Sinn Fein –V
IT 12/04/04 Paisley Signals He Could Compromise –V
FT 12/03/04 Paisley: Ulster's Mood-Maker
EX 12/03/04 Opin: Reputation Of Gardaí Battered By Tribunals
BT 12/03/04 SF Mayor Turns On The Derry Lights
IM 12/03/04 What Is Dispute About Kilmichael & Dunmanway About?
IT 12/04/04 Family's Lucky Find Could Fetch €150,000

RT 12/03/04 Military Re-Enactment In Kinsale -VO

Military Re-Enactment In Kinsale - Maria Mullarkey reports on a
multi-period living history event, held within Charles Fort in


Four-Day Deadline Set For Power-Sharing Deal

03/12/2004 - 21:20:22

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have
given the Northern Ireland Peace Process exactly four days to reach
a breakthrough.

Mr Ahern, speaking at a celebration to mark his 10th anniversary as
leader of Fianna Fáil, said ongoing negotiations had been an
"exhaustive effort" but that the work was now done and decisions
had to be made by the parties involved.

"Tony Blair and myself have to call it, to be precise, in four
days," he said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and DUP leader the Reverend Ian
Paisley have been engaged in intense talks in recent days as the
bid to restore power-sharing institutions in the North moved
towards an historic breakthrough.

Mr Ahern said his vision for Ireland was radical and republican and
that the objective was a united Ireland.

He said the Good Friday Agreement provided the framework to achieve
these objectives through consent but added that unity could only be
achieved by agreement, harmony and friendship.

"No deal is perfect," he said. "But what is in prospect is truly
historic. It is also fair and reasonable."

After meeting Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable
Hugh Orde, Mr Paisley warned that if there were moves to accelerate
demilitarisation it could put back the process.

He said he believed Sinn Féin had to reveal its view on the British
and Irish governments' proposals before the DUP.

Mr Paisley is under pressure to make a definitive response to the
the proposals when he meets the British Prime Minister at Downing
Street on Monday.

But he put the ball firmly in Sinn Féin's court to decide whether
they would accept the proposals put forward by the two governments
by agreeing to IRA decommissioning.

"This is not negotiations with Sinn Féin. It's an ultimatum to Sinn
Féin. Are you going to continue to be terrorists or are you going
to quit your terrorist path," he said.

Earlier, Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty said the process of
negotiation could not last forever.

"We have spent months in detailed and thorough-going discussions
with the two governments across all of the issues. I think we have
all been patient over the past months. But this phase of
discussions cannot be drawn out interminably.

"A comprehensive deal is possible. But it can only be done on the
basis of the Good Friday Agreement."


Discussions Cannot Be Drawn On Interminably

Published: 3 December, 2004

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty briefed the party leadership
in Belfast on the prospects for a comprehensive agreement involving
the DUP.

Pat Doherty said, "On Wednesday our party negotiating team made our
final representation to the two governments on their proposals.

"Despite our obvious scepticism about the DUPs approach, and
particularly our scepticism about their willingness to buy into the
core principles of the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein approached
all of these discussions positively.

"We have spent months in detailed and thorough-going discussions
with the two governments across all of the issues. I think we have
all been patient over the past months. But this phase of
discussions cannot be drawn out interminably.

"A comprehensive deal is possible. But it can only be done on the
basis of the Good Friday Agreement. The DUP must move away from the
failed approaches of the past. The days of second-class
citizenship, domination and humiliation are over. The British Prime
Minister has a particular responsibility to impress this on the DUP


See video at:

Paisley Issues Fresh 'Ultimatum' To Sinn Fein -V

By Gary Kelly, PA

DUP leader the Rev Ian Paisley warned tonight recent predictions of
a speeded up military withdrawal from Northern Ireland could harm
the prospects of a political settlement.

Mr Paisley, speaking after a meeting with Chief Constable Hugh Orde
at police headquarters, said the onus was not on the DUP to decide
whether to accept the latest British/Irish blueprint to restore

He is under pressure to make a definitive response when he meets
Tony Blair at Downing Street on Monday.

But he said it was up to Sinn Fein to decide whether they would
accept the proposals put forward by the two governments.

"This is not negotiations with Sinn Fein. It's an ultimatum to Sinn
Fein. Are you going to continue to be terrorists or are you going
to quit your terrorist path," he said.

The hard-line unionist and implacable enemy of republicanism spoke
of his difficulty at coming to an agreement to share power with
Gerry Adams and his party.

Earlier this week, Mr Adams complained bitterly when the DUP leader
said the IRA would have to wear "sack cloth and ashes" to atone for
30 years of terrorism.

Mr Paisley said: "I will have to do a good deal of swallowing. I
will have to do a good deal of biting my lip in future days. But
I'm prepared to do that provided they cease to be terrorists."

Earlier, Sinn Fein vice president Pat Doherty said the process of
negotiation could not last forever.

The West Tyrone MP said: "Despite our obvious scepticism about the
DUP's approach, and particularly our scepticism about their
willingness to buy into the core principles of the Good Friday
Agreement, Sinn Fein approached all of these discussions

"We have spent months in detailed and thorough-going discussions
with the two governments across all of the issues. I think we have
all been patient over the past months. But this phase of
discussions cannot be drawn out interminably.

"A comprehensive deal is possible. But it can only be done on the
basis of the Good Friday Agreement. The DUP must move away from the
failed approaches of the past. The days of second-class
citizenship, domination and humiliation are over. The British Prime
Minister has a particular responsibility to impress this on the DUP


See video at:

Paisley Signals He Could Compromise -V

The DUP leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, has indicated he is prepared
to make compromises in order to strike a deal that would result in
the restoration of a power-sharing Northern Executive and Assembly.
Gerry Moriarty and Dan Keenan report.

Ahead of a crucial Blair-Paisley meeting in London on Monday, the
British and Irish governments are likely to draw hope from Dr
Paisley's comments after he met the PSNI Chief Constable, Mr Hugh
Orde, yesterday evening.

A senior London source said yesterday that in Downing Street on
Monday Mr Blair would again seek to persuade the DUP leader that
the governments' amended blueprint for restoring devolution was a
"reasonable compromise".

Speaking last night at Fianna Fáil's annual Cairde Fáil dinner in
Dublin, the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, departed from a prepared script to
warn that just four days remained to agree a Northern deal. "Next
week is make or break," he told 1,700 Fianna Fáil supporters
gathered in the Citywest Hotel.

Dr Paisley's suggestion that he is willing to "swallow" some
unpalatable elements of the blueprint would appear to indicate that
he is indeed prepared to make compromises to achieve a deal.

It is understood that Dr Paisley was in contact with Mr Blair by
phone yesterday. After meeting Mr Orde at police headquarters, the
DUP leader said of the prospects of governing alongside Sinn Féin:
"I will have to do a good deal of swallowing. I will have to do a
good deal of biting my lip in future days. But I am prepared to do
that provided they cease to be terrorists, and cease to do what
they have been doing so long and washing their hands in the blood
of my fellows."

He confirmed that he had received further clarification from the
two governments on a draft agreement, but denied it was up to the
DUP to say "yes" to the British-Irish proposals.

"It is not me that has to say yes or no. It's the IRA/Sinn Féin.
I've to do nothing. I don't have guns. I've got two arms and a
mouth that I can use. But that's all," Dr Paisley said.

Responsibility for progress, he added, lay with republicans. "Mr
Adams can't wash his hands Pilate-like now." He believed Mr Adams
and Mr Martin McGuinness were "bloody and deceitful men". However,
he also believed that if they "give up their arms and give up their
criminal acts, then I have to recognise that they have been elected
to parliament and I have to accept that". It remained unclear last
night, however, whether there was potential for compromise on the
crucial issue of photographic verification of IRA decommissioning,
which the DUP is demanding.

The blueprint proposes that Dr Paisley should be shown pictures of
the disarmament, but that the photographs would not be published
until after devolution was restored. Dr Paisley wants the
photographs published before devolution is reinstated.

Sinn Féin has made no commitments on the issue, although in some
quarters comments this week by its president, Mr Gerry Adams, that
republicans would not be "humiliated", was interpreted as a
rejection of the proposal on photographs.

A DUP Assembly member, Mr Sammy Wilson, said yesterday that
photographic proof was essential for unionists. "This isn't about
humiliation, it's about reassuring unionists that decommissioning
really has happened this time, and it's not about a dozen or so
guns being destroyed," he said.

© The Irish Times


Ulster's Mood-Maker

By John Murray Brown
Published: December 4 2004 02:00 Last updated: December 4 2004

Ian Paisley is a man usedto doing things his own way. He founded
his own political party. He set up his own church. He also created
his own branch of the Orange Order, the marching organisation that
every summer celebrates the protestant ascendancy in Northern

The next few days will determine whether Mr Paisley, the
quintessential political outsider, might rejoin the mainstream and
become first minister of the regional government of Northern
Ireland. It would mark a remarkable moment in a remarkable 30-year
political journey for this preacher turned politician, who has come
to define the intransigent face of Northern Ireland's hardline
protestant community.

Mr Paisley has been a thorn in the side of every government effort
to find a settlement in Northern Ireland since British troops were
sent in to quell the civil strife between those in favour of the
province's political union with the UK and the nationalists who
wanted a united Ireland.

Now, however, he has the opportunity to make history, by agreeing
to take his Democratic Unionist party into a power-sharing
administration with his erstwhile enemies in Sinn Féin, the
political wing of the paramilitary IRA and the largest party on the
nationalist side.

It is hard to judge whether the leopard has really changed his
spots. Now 78, and after a serious illness in the summer,
intimations of his own mortality may have a bearing on his

He has certainly never been very at home in Westminster - he has
been member of parliament for North Antrim since 1970 - and has
long advocated a return to self-rule for Northern Ireland. However,
it is only in the past year that he has publicly faced up to the
fact that any deal on devolution will require his party to share
power with Sinn Féin.

His DUP, as the largest party in Northern Ireland, would be
entitled to take not only the first minister's position, but also
five of the 11 ministries, under the complex formula used for
allocating departments.

Some are bitter that Mr Paisley is now being depicted as a
potential deal-maker. David Ervine, leader of the Progressive
Unionists, the political wing of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer
Force, is convinced that many young Protestants became involved in
paramilitarism - and were subsequently imprisoned - as a result of
Mr Paisley's fiery religious rhetoric.

"For those of my generation, he was certainly the mood-maker," says
Mr Ervine, who served 5½ years for terrorist offences in the late

Big Ian, as he is sometimes affectionately called, was brought up
the son of a Methodist minister in rural county Armagh. He preached
his first sermon at 16 and by the time he was 25 had founded his
own breakaway Free Presbyterian church. Fiercely anti-Catholic, it
had no truck with the ecumenical direction that the Irish
Presbyterian movement was then taking. On the other hand, even his
Catholic constituents would agree that he is a very effective
constituency MP.

A politician in clerical collar is not an unusual sight in unionist
politics. But religion was only ever a backdrop for his political
activity. In 1961, he organised a march to protest against the
lowering of the Union Jack flag on the City Hall in Belfast to mark
the death of Pope John XXIII. It was the first loyalist march to be
banned under the Special Powers Act, the first piece of counter-
terrorist legislation passed by the regional government at
Stormont, which London was forced to dissolve at the onset of the

He opposed the Sunningdale agreement - an experiment in power-
sharing between the rival communities - and was active in support
of strikes in 1974 that brought it down.

He opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which for the first
time gave Dublin a role in Northern Ireland affairs. And, in the
wake of the IRA ceasefire in 1994, he refused to deal with Sinn
Féin while the IRA held on to its arms and so was not party to the
1998 Good Friday peace agreement that set up the currently
suspended institutions of devolved government.

A few months ago, government officials said there would only be a
chance of the DUP signing up to a deal once Mr Paisley was off the

But just as in the early 1990s British governments came to the
conclusion that a durable settlement was not possible without at
least the acquiescence of Sinn Féin, so policymakers are now slowly
adjusting to the fact that Mr Paisley and his hardline brand of
Ulster Protestantism are indispensable to achieving a lasting

Arthur Aughey, politics lecturer at the University of Ulster,
believes that once moderate nationalists calculated that their
interests were best served by supporting Sinn Féin, unionists
looked to Mr Paisley and not the moderate David Trimble - leader of
the the Ulster Unionist party - as their saviour. "There was no
advantage in appearing to be conciliatory," he says.

On the day in 1998 that the referendum backing the Good Friday
agreement was won, Mr Paisley faced triumphalist barracking from
more moderate unionists at the count centre at the King's Hall in
Belfast. But his electoral fortunes have been on an upward path
ever since, as a result of unionist disenchantment with the Good
Friday agreement. A year later, in the same hall, Mr Paisley was
celebrating his biggest ever victory in the European parliamentary

Next week, the province should know whether Big Ian is willing to
risk a backlash from his own supporters by making the compromises
that would enable him to become first minister in a power-sharing
administration with his old enemies.


Opin: Reputation Of The Gardaí Battered By Tribunals And

By Ryle Dwyer

RETIRED Detective Inspector Gerry O'Carroll persists in maintaining
that the gardaí were right in the assumption that Joanne Hayes was
the mother of the two babies at the centre of the Kerry Babies case
in 1984.

That was the start of the flood of tribunals. It may have been
relatively inexpensive in comparison with what has been happening
since, but it still cost a small fortune and it accomplished very

The gardaí were suspected of having botched the investigation into
the discovery of a new-born infant who had been stabbed to death
and was washed up near Caherciveen.

Joanne Hayes of Abbeydorney became a suspect. She and members of
her family were questioned by the gardaí. They confessed to killing
the Caherciveen baby, but later claimed they had nothing to do with

They produced the body of an infant who had been buried on their
farm to explain the termination of her pregnancy.

The tribunal was called primarily to investigate why members of the
Hayes' family made what seemed like a false confession.

Strictly speaking, nobody is ever on trial at a tribunal, but in a
symbolic way the gardaí were in the dock on this occasion. It
seemed they had got their investigation backwards and were trying
to have the crime fit the facts instead of finding the facts to fit
the crime. They investigated the possibility that Joanne Hayes had
twins and that the Caherciveen baby was one of them.

It was natural that they would consider this possibility. The body
of the baby found on the farm had the 'O' blood type, as did Ms
Hayes and the man she said was the father of the child, but the
Caherciveen baby had 'A' blood type which meant that it had a
different father to the other baby.

So the gardaí considered the unlikely possibility of
superfecundation, the possibility of fraternal twins by different

While it could happen, it would seem a distinctly remote
possibility. For one thing, who was the second man? A lot of
tongues were set wagging when Tom Flynn's name came up at the

It was suggested he might be the missing father, until it was
disclosed that his name had merely surfaced because it had been
found written on a second-hand mattress.

Tom Flynn emigrated to the US in the 1970s and it would have
involved a lot more than the possibility of superfecundation for
him to have fathered the Caherciveen baby with Ms Hayes.

Judge Kevin Lynch concluded in his report that Joanne gave birth to
the baby found on the farm, and he dismissed the superfecundation
argument as just "wishful thinking elevated to the status of hard
fact". He then appeared to engage in a piece of speculation when he
concluded Joanne had strangled the baby and hit it with a bath

This was not in line with the evidence of State Pathologist John
Harbison. He had testified that he could not actually state that
the baby found on the farm had ever had a separate existence from
the mother, because the baby's lungs had never fully expanded. In
short, the pathologist could not prove that the child ever lived,
much less that he was killed or murdered.

Dr Harbison also ruled out the suggestion that the baby was struck
on the head with a bath brush. "This could do considerable damage
to an infant," he said, holding the brush on the witness stand. "If
this had been used on the head of the baby, it would almost
certainly have fractured the skull, which suggests that it was

Many of the gardaí involved felt that their careers were undermined
by the whole affair. The murder squad, which had hitherto had a
good record, was scrapped over the case.

Both Joanne Hayes and the retired Det Inspector O'Carroll are now
calling for DNA testing to prove whether or not she was the mother
of the Caherciveen baby. After all that has happened, the cost of a
DNA test would seem to be a tiny price to pay for closure on that
particular aspect of the case.

IT IS the reputation of the gardaí that has suffered most from the
tribunals. In addition to the two tribunals looking into their
conduct in Abbeylara and Donegal, the other tribunals have been
considering matters that the gardaí should have investigated in the
first place. But there is little public confidence in them to do
this job, thanks largely to the politicians.

When gardaí investigated Ray Burke in the 1980s the Minister for
Justice, Seán Doherty, got hold of the garda file and had it copied
with a view to passing it on to Burke, according to the testimony
of Frank Dunlop. The mind boggles at how such a serious accusation
could be just parked while the tribunal meanders off in other
directions. Can anyone conceive of a more inefficient way to
investigate anything than to employ a gaggle of lawyers and to pay
them outrageously inflated prices?

We have another lawyer making vacuous protestations of efficiency
as Minister for Justice, while Sinn Féin is pulling the strings of
Fianna Fáil, which is becoming ever more compliant in preparation
for the next coalition.

People plagued by anti-social neighbours are, in desperation,
turning to Sinn Féin for help and protection. They are living in
fear for themselves and their children. They have little faith in
the gardaí not because they necessarily think they are incompetent
or dishonest, but because they think they are hamstrung by archaic
procedures and redundant rules.

The established politicians are losing touch. This week we had the
absurd spectacle of the monumental whinge on the budget. As budget
speeches go, it must have been one of the least offensive, but the
opposition trotted out all the old arguments of bleaker times and
resorted to redundant buffoonery.

Richard Bruton, Fine Gael spokesman on finance, seemed to be trying
to emulate Michael Noonan in providing comic relief. As sure as
God, they are still trying to pull the horns off their Celtic
snail! It wasn't as if there was not a ready issue to exploit.
Earlier in the day there was the sordid spectacle of Transport
Minister Martin Cullen trying to defend the indefensible in using
public money to pay over 1,200 a day for a publicity assistant.
Having wasted over 55 million on voting machines that we could not
use and are now paying millions to store, he certainly needs an
image polisher. But why should the public have to pay so
exorbitantly for that polisher? Is she making him look good, or are
we being made to look like fools?

Let's face it, we are fools if we tolerate such extravagance.


Mayor Turns On The Lights

By William Allen
03 December 2004

Londonderry's Sinn Fein Mayor will today turn on Christmas lights
at a centre where a predecessor was heckled by hundreds of

Gearóid Ó hEára will switch on the Christmas tree lights at
Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre, where loyalists hurled abuse at the
only previous Sinn Fein Mayor, Cathal Crumley, during a similar
event in 2000.

The special guest will be Santa Claus, who will arrive, with the
help of the local Fire Service, on board one of their fire engines.

The event will also include a Christmas pool disco taking place at

Spaces for the disco are limited to boys and girls aged eight plus,
and tickets are on sale at the leisure centre reception.

The charge is £2.25 including a free 'goodie' bag.

Urging the public to join in the festive fun, the Mayor said this
was a great event for all the family.

"The annual Christmas switch-on at Lisnagelvin is a fantastic event
for the family and it creates a real Christmas atmosphere in the
Waterside," he said.

"We hope there will be a great crowd of people to welcome Santa and
to enjoy the spirit of Christmas."

Switch-on takes place at 7pm.


The War of Independence 1919-2004: What Is The Dispute About
Kilmichael And Dunmanway Really About?

by Niall Meehan Friday, Dec 3 2004, 3:31pm

Battles Continue Over the Interpretation of Irish History

(An Indymedia Volunteer has asked me to introduce and to try and
summarise the basis of the dispute over aspects of Irish history
which has made some appearances on the site recently. This I
attempt to do below – apologies in advance for the length of the

After simmering along on Indymedia for a number of weeks, a dispute
over the actions of legendary guerrilla commander Tom Barry and the
IRA in Cork during the 1919-22 period boiled over into print in The
Village, the BBC, The Irish Examiner and The Sunday Times. The
controversy relates to research by historians, Meda Ryan and Brian
Murphy, criticising claims first put forward by former Queens
history lecturer, now Memorial University Newfoundland academic,
Peter Hart.

The dispute centres mainly on two areas:

1. Peter Hart's attempt to overturn the long held and widely
accepted view that British Auxiliaries fired on and killed three
IRA soldiers after the Auxiliaries had called a surrender during
the Kilmichael ambush in November 1920.

2. Peter Hart's suggestion that the post-Truce killing of
Protestant males in the area surrounding Dunmanway in April 1922
was part of a sectarian war being pursued by republican forces.
Point 1 is related as it formed Hart's launching pad into his
thesis that the Anglo-Irish war was in reality a squalid battle for
ethnic supremacy, and that the two states in Ireland are an
expression of a mutually exclusive ethnic sectarianism (except that
Hart is accused of under-reporting unionist sectarianism and
British responsibility for using sectarianism as a method of
government in Ireland).

In other words it is suggested that Hart sees Irish politics in the
context of balkanisation, rather than in the context of colonialism
and imperialism.

Kilmichael Critique

The critique of Hart on Kilmichael centres on the following

- His two sources for the Kilmichael ambush are anonymous (now
over 80 years after the event) and therefore difficult to test and
to validate. Peter Hart says he carried out his interviews in 1988
and 1989 but, according to the records consulted by Meda Ryan, only
one battle survivor was alive at that stage, but too infirm to
repeat his account. Reportedly, none were alive on 19 November
1989, the date of Hart's interview with the scout 'AF'. According
to Ryan, the last scout died in 1967, while the last survivor, Ned
Young, died on November 13 1989. This is an anomaly that needs to
be addressed – and for which there may be a simple explanation. As
of yet, it has not been proffered.

- Hart accepts British inspired reports of the engagement, reports
that Dr Brian Murphy demonstrated recently were produced by a
sophisticated British propaganda unit run by Basil Clarke and Major
CJC Street. Hart also accepts British documentation claiming to be
the unsigned typewritten report of the battle by Barry to his
superiors. Again, this is disputed, not least because of glaring
errors of detail that it is suggested Barry would not have made.
For instance the report says that two IRA soldiers died later and
one on the spot. The opposite is the case (see Ryan, pages 59-60).

- Hart claims that Barry did not make the "false surrender" claim
until the 1940s. Ryan showed that it was published in the 1920s.
Hart's apparently clinching point about Barry failing to mention in
it in a major 1932 Irish Press article was refuted by showing that
it had been edited out of the story, and that Barry himself had
protested in writing. Ryan produced information to the effect that
open discussion on the false surrender was common parlance among
survivors of the ambush.

The Dunmanway Critique

On more than one occasion Hart quotes from original documentation
in a way that seems to diminish British responsibility for
promoting and provoking sectarianism, while appearing to highlight
republican responsibility. For example, Brian Murphy pointed out
that in order to portray the Dunmanway killings as sectarian, Hart
quoted half a sentence from British intelligence documentation
suggesting that Protestant farmers as such did not engage in active
informing on behalf of the British during the War of Independence.
Hart ignored the other half of the same sentence, where the British
say that the one exception was the Bandon area (which includes
Dunmanway). Bandon was unique in witnessing the promotion of
unionist sectarianism in support of the British presence. The
atmosphere surrounding Bandon is indicated by two well-known
phrases describing the place: "the Londonderry of the South" and
"even the pigs were Protestant".

- While Hart's researches were not apparently thorough enough to
uncover this, he also did not report on the exceptional
organisation of loyalist paramilitary activity in association with
British forces, that saw the use of extra-legal retribution
alongside those forces.

- Meda Ryan reported on the above and she also reported new
information relating to the killing of Protestant males in April
1922, after the Truce. Ryan reported that the surnames of all of
those shot, in defiance of an IRA amnesty for spies and informers,
were on a list of "helpful citizens" left behind by the Auxiliaries
when they evacuated Dunmanway Workhouse. In other words those shot
were targeted because of their alleged association with sectarian
paramilitary violence –and immediately after two individuals on the
Dunmanway list had shot and killed an IRA officer. Sectarianism as
a motive for the killings would not appear to have been paramount,
or indeed a factor at all.

- Ryan reported extensively on the denunciation of the wave of
killings by pro and anti treaty forces, on energetic efforts to
stamp them out and to provide effective protection measures for
those thought vulnerable to attack. Tom Barry was actively engaged
in providing this protection, which included, according to Manus
O'Riordan, denouncing some individuals seeking to take advantage of
the atmosphere by stealing Protestant owned livestock. Peter Hart
either ignored, was uninterested in, or just failed to uncover,
this information.

- Ryan reported on Protestant support for the independence
struggle, Hart largely ignored this point. Ryan reported on British
and Protestant church comment on the absence of sectarianism in the
fight being waged by those trying to achieve Irish independence.
Again, Hart ignored this information.

Pseudo History

While Hart accuses his critics of a "faith based" and "pseudo"
history, he has refused to comment on criticism based on matters of
fact uncovered by both Murphy and Ryan. The re-emergence of this
debate was sparked by the repetition of Hart's view in Diarmaid
Ferriter's new survey of Irish history, without any reference to
the substantive published critique of that view. Also sparking re-
interest was John Bruton's repetition of the Kilmichael and
Dunmanway allegations in a review of Ferriter's book in the Irish
Independent. It would appear that Hart's view was not subject to
considered refutation. This raised the hackles of those who feel
that the cogently argued alternative account was effectively
censored out of academic and media existence.

After a long silence, and as a result of this recent renewed
interest, Peter Hart committed himself on to
responding to Ryan and Murphy, though where or when has not been

Some sophisticates are apparently unnerved by the specter of West
Cork rustics laying claim a peoples' history and by historians who
do not politely tiptoe through, or unquestioningly accept the
wisdom of those who inhabit, the groves of academe.

Faith in Hart

They suggest that this dispute is uninteresting, or that the
Kilmichael ambush is unimportant to the extent that the Dunmanway
killings are more worthy of attention. They forget that Ryan and
Murphy tackle both events without hesitation. Some of this
commentary may undoubtedly be blinded by the sectarian failings of
the state that emerged out of the Civil War, but history is read
backwards in seeking an original sectarian sin within the War of
Independence. This is what makes such observers susceptible to
accounts such as those promoted by Peter Hart, and why, ironically,
they may be accepted largely as a matter of faith.

Then again Peter Hart may be right and his critics largely
incorrect in their assessment. If so Hart has been reluctant to
engage with them. This stance may puzzle those who are neutral on
the matters in dispute. Is this a matter of disdain? No, because
Hart says he "respects" Meda Ryan and Brian Murphy. Is it
disinterest? No, because Peter Hart has continued to write on the
subject. Is it lack of confidence in the validity of his research?
Peter Hart appeared confident of his position in his interview on
the BBC. Peter Hart can answer this question. It is to be hoped
that he will, soon.

Revisionism, Post-Revisionism

On a more general point, this debate reflects a continuing
interest in Irish history. It also indicates the continuing
relevance of the debate on "revisionism". Many historians express a
wish to move on to a "post revisionist" view of the field, and this
latter term assumes a defeat for the original revisionist project
of undermining Irish nationalism per se.

As one historian remarked to me recently, the revisionists were
really commenting on the politics of the 1970s and 1980s, while
ostensibly researching a more distant past. It was really a
negative view of the violent explosion of discontent in the North
post 1968. This point seems eminently sensible, since history is a
reflection of the concerns of the present imposing themselves on a
view of the past. The politics of the present in relation to the
National Question are still very much an aspect of contemporary
politics. Efforts to put the power-sharing executive in the North
back together dominates the news agenda as I write.

A view of the National Question that relegates British
responsibility for sectarianism and which elevates instead an
indigenous ethnic sectarianism is highly contentious and is in
itself political. It is a view of the conflict which is congenial,
whether Peter Hart is aware of it or is concerned by it or not, to
a unionist and pro-British view of the conflict. For unionism it is
a reason for separation and for Britain a justification for
adopting the role of neutral facilitator. This view of the conflict
has been promoted over the course of the recent 'Troubles'. Peter
Hart has introduced the point as a defining characteristic of the
original 'Troubles', the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21.


In contesting the empirical or factual basis of Peter Hart's view,
Brian Murphy and Meda Ryan have furthered our understanding of the

Ryan's meticulous examination of the minutiae of the Kilmichael
ambush, the Dunmanway killings and the Crossbarry ambush (in which
up to 40 British soldiers died), and her account of British
treatment of prisoners, suspects and the civilian population
generally helps to re-create the atmosphere of the period and the
motivation of those taking part. As she is concerned with detailing
the events at Dunmanway, Ryan brings us more detail on the
interaction of Protestants and Catholics, differences of opinion
within the Protestant community, and the peculiar situation in that
part of Ireland than has traditionally been afforded.

Aside from its impact on our views of Kilmichael or Dunmanway,
Brian Murphy's research on media manipulation is fascinating. It
adds to our understanding of the development of propaganda as a
weapon of war. What also fascinates is Murphy's research
demonstrating that sophisticated British propaganda played a role
in attempts to define the conflict then, and that it has re-emerged
in contemporary historical accounts of the period. The revelation
of persistent British attempts to define their enemies as
sectarian, while themselves promoting sectarian allies, may inform
our view of the present as much as it may help our understanding of
the past.

While I am sympathetic to the view put forward by Ryan and by
Murphy, it is clear that Hart's industriousness was a stimulus for
the production of alternative accounts of the period. It may be
that positive aspects of Hart's research have become obscured by
the dispute. If commentary has become polemicised, this may be due
to the absence of a reaction from Peter Hart to the criticism put
forward by Ryan and by Murphy. It would appear to be the case that
making a loud noise has more chance of eliciting a response.

And, despite Peter Hart's somewhat negative view of the
contributions, the debate on Indymedia has perhaps rekindled an
interest in History among the many who are less and less likely to
take it as a subject in Irish schools. Why is history in decline as
a school subject? Is it due to lack of interest in history? Between
1,500 and 2,000 attended the Kilmichael commemoration on November
28th and heard Meda Ryan's oration, so popular interest in aspects
of Irish history appears intact. Or is it lack of interest in the
written history that is presented to them that switches modern
students off?

The historians may say that it is not their task to provide
partisan accounts of any particular period. It is possible that
partisanship from another direction may silently intrude, however,
especially when grappling with historical events with pressing
contemporary parallels – the terms IRA, violence and conflict being
highly charged in current circumstances. Ideology takes many forms,
the denial of its presence being merely one. Objectivity may inform
the historical method but it is never an end in itself and never at
an end, just like the historical journey.

While there are clear differences in overall view between Ryan and
Murphy on the one hand and Peter Hart on the other, the
practicality of explicating the differences boils down to the
interpretation and acceptance of documentation and other important

A more objective view may arrive during the course of debate. And
debate is what we are waiting for.


Family's Lucky Find Could Fetch €150,000

A Dublin family is hoping for a windfall of at least €100,000
this Christmas following the discovery in the back of a cupboard in
their home of one of the rarest documents relating to the
foundation of the State - an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation
of Independence of the Irish Republic.

The copy of the proclamation, now one of only 20 known to still
exist, had remained tightly folded in an envelope in the cupboard
since it was acquired by the father of the family, long deceased,
in the 1930s.

The family was unaware of its rarity or value until they brought it
in for valuation to Adams's auctioneers in Dublin earlier this

The copy is being sold at an auction next Wednesday at Adams's in
Dublin, and is expected to fetch between €100,000 and €150,000.

The copy, authenticated by staff at the National Library, which has
a copy itself, has all the typographic idiosyncrasies of an
original copy, of which a maximum of 500 were printed. Most of them
were destroyed during the rebellion.

However, with thousands having been reprinted in the early 1920s
following independence, many people who believe they have an
original are often disappointed, according to Adams's staff.

"We'd have maybe 10 people come in off the street every year
thinking they have an original," said auctioneer Mr Stuart Cole.

An original copy can be identified by a series of features. The
printer, Mr Christopher Brady, and his two compositors, produced
the poster-sized document from an old press in Liberty Hall on poor
quality poster paper.

Operating in secret and with limited resources, they ran out of the
letter e in its original metal typeface, and had to use a gothic e.

They ran out of type entirely half way through and had to print it
in two stages.

Originally 2,000 were to be printed but this was then limited to
1,000 because of a shortage of paper. Many of these were destroyed
when Liberty Hall was raided by British troops. It is estimated
that as few as 500 were actually printed and distributed around the

One copy was famously placed at the foot of Nelson's Pillar on
Easter Monday morning as Pádraig Pearse, who wrote the declaration,
read it aloud from the steps of the GPO.

With only 20 known to exist, three of which are owned by Irish
State bodies - including copies in Leinster House and the National
Museum - private sales happen only every five to 10 years. There
has already been one sale this year, however. A copy, signed by the
printer, Mr Christopher Brady, was sold for £100,000 sterling in

Most of the 201 lots at the auction are Irish paintings. A total of
€2.5 million is expected to be raised. Forty of the pieces are
being sold by the Jefferson Smurfit Plc collection.The most
expensive lots are three oil paintings by Jack B. Yeats and a
reclining nude by Irish post-Impressionist painter, Roderic
O'Conor, all valued at between €200,000 and €300,000. One of the
Yeats paintings, Nothing is Changed, is the most expensive with a
value of between €280,000 and €300,000.

Mr James O'Halloran, an auctioneer with Adams's, said there had
been considerable interest in the copy of the proclamation, both
from private individuals and American academic institutions.

"It would appeal to people who might buy a Yeats, people who would
have a very strong personal sense of their Irish identity," he

© The Irish Times

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