Dr Regan and Professor Hart

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 5 (Sept/Oct 2012), Letters, Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 20

Sir,—Any reader not yet stupefied by recent exchanges on the late Peter Hart’s academic integrity is invited to consult my detailed and footnoted riposte to John Regan’s charges in a forthcoming issue of History. His latest contribution to History Ireland restates familiar accusations without offering fresh evidence. One specific challenge should, however, be declined forthwith. Dr Regan urges me, presumably in my capacity as an omniscient supervisor, to unveil the identity and religious affiliation of those responsible for the Macroom or ‘Bandon Valley’ massacre of April 1922. I regret to advise readers of History Ireland, along with the 500 expectant auditors of Regan’s lecture in Cork, that I am as ill-informed as he on this matter. Hart himself, as stated in my letter to History Ireland, knew the names of several alleged perpetrators identified by his informants or by Kevin Myers but did not consider the attributions sufficiently reliable to merit publication. Though naming Frank Busteed in his thesis, Hart admitted serious reservations about the reliability and meaning of Busteed’s ‘cryptic remarks’ when interviewed by Ernie O’Malley. Busteed had stated that ‘we shot five to six loyalists, Protestant farmers, as reprisals’, without giving a date or indicating whether ‘we’ referred to Busteed’s own unit ‘or to the IRA in general’. Hart’s subsequent exclusion of Busteed’s name from The IRA and its enemies is surely attributable not to mendacious ‘elision’ but to ‘enhanced prudence and rigour’.—Yours etc.,
DAVID FITZPATRICK
Trinity College, Dublin
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