Brian O’Donoghue, I.V.C.O. member and grandson of Frank Busteed, has written two letters to the Irish Times in response to Stephen Collins’ article on Frank Busteed. Neither have been published, so we publish them here.
- IV page on Frank Busteed
Stephen Collin’s article, on eligibility for War of Independence pensions, suggested that Frank Busteed’s execution of the loyalist informer Mary Lindsay in 1921 forms part of the wider historical/academic debate on sectarianism.
As a result of Lindsay’s information six young men were sentenced to death and executed, despite a public outcry and appeals from public figures. A seventh volunteer died later of his wounds. Much has been written on Frank Busteed’s activities during the War of Independence, in books, newspaper articles and historical journals. It seems clear that religion was certainly not a motivating factor. Frank was the product of a mixed marriage. His father was Protestant and from a unionist family, while his mother was Catholic and from a nationalist background.
Frank was a self declared Atheist and appeared to have little interest in anyone’s religious persuasion. He was on good terms with both sides of his family and had regular contact with them, before during and after the war. Some time after he returned to Ireland from the United States in 1935 (where had been successful in business since 1924), Frank resumed contact with both sides of his family. During the period from 1941, when he also served as a Lieutenant in the Irish Army, Frank was in regular contact with his father’s family.
It is thus odd, and to my mind and from my knowledge of the family also unfair, to attempt to contextualize such a person in a sectarian light.
This debate will continue, but it should be said that a significant amount of information exists (much of which was actually written and available at the time, but has not been adequately publicized in my opinion) from representatives of Southern Protestantism, including from the Cork area, disputing IRA sectarianism allegations. These emerged during the late 1990s from the pen of Peter Hart and are now largely discredited.
Brian O’Donoghue (grandson of Frank Busteed)