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25 October 2007 Edition

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TV REVIEW

‘Hidden History’ hides the real story

 

TV REVIEW
The Pearsons of Coolacrease
RTE One
Tuesday
Directed and presented by Niamh Sammon
ReelStory Productions


Reviewed by Dick Ireland

ON MAY 4 1922, Bertram C Wells, BA, TCD, incumbent, St Thomas’s Church, Dugart, Achill Island, County Mayo, wrote in the Irish Independent that he wised to thank: “our Catholic neighbours and friends for their kindness and help” in making the “dance in aid of the Dugart National School a success”. He continued, “To the officers and members of the IRA and volunteers who were present and came to my assistance in more senses than one on that night, I desire thus publicly to express my warmest thanks. In these days when there is so much foolish talk going on, I feel it my duty, as well as privilege, to state that nothing but the greatest kindness and courtesy has always been shown us by our Catholic neighbours”.
That is typical of what Protestants said about the IRA during and after the Tan War in the south, west and east of Ireland. It is far from exceptional. It only seems so because it is today’s hidden history.
On Tuesday last, Fianna Fáil-nominated Senator Eoghan Harris said: “They shot them very deliberately in the genitals, in their sexual parts....”. Why? According to TV presenter Niamh Sammon on Radio One’s Tubridy Show on Monday last: “because they were Protestants”. With those words revisionist history, an invented Irish history, became a parody of itself.
It was supposed to be an analysis of the execution of two loyalists, members of the Pearson family, in June 1921 by the IRA, in Cadamstown, County Offaly.
RTE One’s Hidden History on Tuesday last was a vehicle for atrocity propaganda. It was made by Sammon and heavily featured Fianna Fáil seanad nominee, Harris, together with unionist historian, Richard English, Big House historian Terence Dooley, and Alan Stanley, son of a Black and Tan collaborator, William Stanley – who escaped when the Pearsons were shot.
Local historian, Paddy Heaney and historian of the Offaly IRA, Philip McConway were also interviewed. They did well, but they were only allowed to tell part of the story. This ‘ReelStory’ was not the real story, which was well and truly hidden. Harris’s hysteria was the driving force.
There is nothing ‘hidden’ about what actually happened to the Pearsons.
Cadamstown historian Paddy Heaney told the story of the execution of the Pearsons in 2000, in his book At the Foot of Slieve Bloom. He told it as it was. The Pearsons fired on an IRA party felling a tree to block British forces, on a roadway beside Pearson land. They wounded two IRA volunteers, one of them so severely in the stomach that he died a few years later. The contemporary RIC report confirmed this. A surviving Pearson family member described himself as an ardent loyalist. It was well known that the Pearsons were collaborating with Crown forces. They took sides in a war in which the vast majority supported Dáil Éireann. They had no support in the area from other Protestants.
Heaney’s history was not hidden, it was simply ignored when it was written.
What about the evidence the programme makers dropped?
Niamh Sammon interviewed Pat Muldowney from the University of Ulster. Unlike the other interviewees, Muldowney was aware of the programme makers’ agenda. He knew that the Pearsons died from blood loss from superficial wounds and incompetent medical attention from the British military. He had the RIC report on the Pearsons shooting of the IRA volunteers. He had the medical reports showing that the truly moronic fantasy of shooting in “the genitals, the sexual parts” was bogus. The programme’s sectarian ‘land grab’ theory is also bogus. The abandoned Pearson land was given at first to ex-British soldiers.
The programme makers could not handle Muldowney’s evidence. They dropped his interview. Censorship pure and simple – this was the real hidden history. Hidden agenda more like. There is another part of this story. When Harris wrote about it originally in the Sunday Independent, he launched a vicious attack on Fianna Fáil TD Martin Mansergh. He called Mansergh a “rotten role model for young Irish Protestants”. Why, because Mansergh says today what most Protestants said then: the IRA were non-sectarian. Harris and Sammon did not repeat this lie. It is another part to the real hidden history, part of another hidden agenda.
The real story, Muldowney’s story, is available on Indymedia at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/84547. Read it, and don’t be taken in by the melancholy mood music – don’t be fooled no more.

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