Wednesday, May 21, 2014

History is hidden by the victors

Writing in the Irish Times a few weeks ago, Ireland's leading blinkered nationalist Martin Mansergh contrasts the supposedly disruptive agenda of the Boston College tapes with the 1940s-1950s project by the Bureau of Military History in the Irish Department of Defence --

The Boston tapes project may have been modelled on the Bureau of Military History statements collected 50-60 years ago from survivors of the independence struggle, which only became generally available after everyone’s death. With a broad consensus behind the independence struggle, no one faced prosecution by the State for their part in it. Those collecting the statements acted impartially.

The most prominent participant in the Irish independence struggle not to speak to the Bureau was Eamon de Valera, who clearly didn't share Mansergh's view that there was a consensus about the struggle. Mansergh has to attack the Boston College tapes and the fallout from them, because they threaten the Immaculate Conception view of the 1999 Good Friday Agreement in which the only progress on Northern Ireland happened because of Fianna Fail leaders advised by, er, Martin Mansergh. But for people just as cynical as Mansergh, but less delusional -- like De Valera, and Gerry Adams -- they knew that history can be an awkward thing and is probably best not talked about at all, and certainly not with a recording device running. As Ed Moloney says in yesterday's Irish Times, partly responding to Mansergh, he wants to dictate how Irish history should be told.