Judging Dev

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Devalera & Fianna Fail, Issue 4 (Jul/Aug 2008), Letters, Letters, Volume 16

Sir,

—I read Tim Pat Coogan’s review of Judging Dev by Diarmaid Ferriter (HI 16.3, May/June 2008) as an inevitable response to a state-sponsored coup in seeking to peddle a particular version of history. When one party is in government so long, it is natural that it elicits actions, which aim to please, from a wide variety of quarters with different interests. The phenomenon of the ‘Judging Dev project’, which saw at least three state organisations combine in a choreographed fashion, was spectacular. The lavish production by the publishers at the Royal Irish Academy, the blanket coverage of the book on so many radio and television programmes by RTÉ, and the ‘advice’ by the History In Service Team, gratefully accepted and acted upon by the Department of Education, to distribute two copies of the book to every second-level school in the country, took the breath away. It offered a good example of how history is written for and by the long-time victors. For the record, when Minister Mary Hannifin offered to distribute ‘a suitable book from the other side’ I sent her a copy of my 2006 W. T. Cosgrave 1880–1965, Founder of Modern Ireland. I was later given one excuse why this would not be done, and in the Dáil Brian Hayes TD got a completely different answer. When my John A. Costello 1891–1965: Compromise Taoiseach came out in the winter of 2007, the author of Judging Dev was introducing a ten-part series on his book on RTÉ Radio One. RTÉ, the broadcaster with a public remit towards impartiality, did not give any airtime to my books on either Cosgrave or Costello. However, Newstalk and the print media did.
ANTHONY JORDAN
Dublin 4

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