Dr Regan and Professor Fitzpatrick

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2012), Letters, Revolutionary Period 1912-23, Volume 20

Sir,—In the last issue (HI 20.5, Sept./Oct. 2012) Professor David Fitzpatrick writes, ‘Dr Regan urges me … to unveil the identity and religious affiliation of those responsible for the Macroom or “Bandon Valley” massacre’. David Fitzpatrick misrepresents me.
In the May–June issue Professor Fitzpatrick wrote: ‘The fact that names [of those responsible for the massacre] included in Hart’s thesis were dropped from the book does not betoken suppression of relevant facts, but enhanced prudence and rigour in the use of evidence’ [my emphasis]. Conversely, I argue that only Frank Busteed’s name was redacted when Peter Hart’s thesis was published as a book in 1998. This deletion enhances Hart’s reductive narrative of a sectarian-inspired massacre perpetrated by Roman Catholics inside the IRA. (Busteed was an atheist and the son of a Protestant father.) In the July–August issue I replied: ‘It is of course possible that hastily re-reading Peter Hart’s doctoral thesis I have overlooked the named “reputed perpetrators” of the massacre David Fitzpatrick now draws our attention to … But if these [redacted] names can be identified, David Fitzpatrick can furnish History Ireland with a list of them’. I suggest that Professor Fitzpatrick is unable to identify any name dropped from Hart’s thesis, when published as a book, other than Busteed’s because only Busteed’s was removed. Anyone doubting this can consult Hart’s thesis in TCD’s library or by inter-library loan (for which a digital copy is available).
Fitzpatrick’s responses divert us from a central point I raise in this debate: ‘what we witness in Hart’s interpretation [of the massacre] is a reawakening of a species of religious propaganda many believed was long extinct’. Professor Fitzpatrick says nothing to dispel my claim. Meanwhile, all of us now look forward to reading his promised fuller response in the journal History.—Yours etc.,
JOHN M. REGAN
University of Dundee
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