Sunday 18 November 2018

Unfounded claims about killings

RTE doing us a great service

Sir -- For some weeks now a small group of people have kept up a sustained attack on the RTE documentary The Killings at Coolacrease. Chief amongst them is Dr Pat Muldowney, a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Ulster. In his letter to your paper last weekend, Dr Muldowney accuses the documentary of omitting vital information contained in a British Military Court of Inquiry into the murders of the Pearson brothers in 1921. He alleges that an RIC investigation concluded that the Pearsons were targeted by the IRA because they shot at two members of Sinn Fein.

Dr Muldowney is quite wrong on two counts -- firstly, this information was contained in the programme, and secondly, there was no RIC investigation.

The document Dr Muldowney cites as evidence of an RIC investigation is actually British army correspondence (5th Division Curragh Camp) that speculates on the reasons for the Pearson killings. It was filed after the Court of Inquiry had deliberated on July 2 in Birr. Titled 'The Coolacrease Murders 30.6.21 -- Possible Motives', the first part of the document speculates that the Pearsons were targeted for their land. Part two then states: 'It is said by the CI (County Inspector) Queen's County that the two Pearson boys a few days previously had seen two men felling a tree on their land adjoining the road. Had told the men concerned to go away and when they refused had fetched two guns and fired and wounded two Sinn Feiners, one of whom is believed died.' Crucially the very next sentence reads: 'It is further rumoured when the farm house was burning two guns fell out of the roof.' In other words, the army was simply collating the rumours surrounding the deaths of the Pearsons (in fact nobody died that night). Not only were these rumours never investigated, the 'Possible Motives' document did not even form part of the Court of Inquiry.

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