Thursday 18 January 2018

Eoghan Harris: From Archive to 'Amber' in the search for closure

Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris

These past two weeks we learnt a lot about memory and missing persons: the Military Service Pensions Collection released the first tranche of documents, Barry Keane launched a new book on the Dunmanway killings of April 1922, Amber got healthy audiences on RTE. But there was cold comfort for those seeking closure.

Let me start with a salute to the Military Archives project. Back in 2006, Bertie Ahern asked for the archives to be made available to the general public. The small staff have done prodigious work and the website works perfectly. But my joy is not unconfined for two reasons.

First, oral testimonies are notoriously fallible. The same facts look different, depending whether you are an IRA man pointing a pistol, or an RIC man staring down the barrel. So it was wise to bring on board professional historians like Professor Eunan O hAlpin, Charles Townshend and Diarmaid Ferriter.

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