To the Editor -The Irish Times
(Re article by Ronan Mc Greevy -President condemns War of Independence execution -27/5/2021)
**I have added a few lines to my original letter-marked *
I refer to the above and wish to set the record straight in regard to a number of points made in this article.
Three attempts were made to save the lives of Mary Lindsay and James Clarke, and those of the five captured volunteers. The first was by the 6th Battalion, Cork No.1 Brigade IRA., the second by Mary Lindsay herself, both in letters to the British Military, in (then) Victoria Barracks , Cork. The third was an appeal from prominent Cork citizens including the Catholic Bishop of Cork to spare the lives of the captured volunteers who had been sentenced to death, which would have also resulted in the sparing of Lindsay’s and Clarke’s lives. Unfortunately , all were ignored by the British.
Furthermore, had Fr. Shinnick told the IRA himself (he sent a messenger)who had informed the British of the planned ambush at Dripsey I would suggest they would have called it off and no lives would have been lost. Mrs. Lindsay was a known loyalist and had connections with the military.
Frank Busteed (then V/C of the 6th Battalion/O/C of the attached Flying Col.)claims that his mother Mrs Norah Busteed was visited by four Auxiliary officers within days of the executions.
(Lindsay and Clarke were executed by a firing squad ,on the orders of but not by Frank Busteed himself).
*Without verifying it President Higgins casually remarks that Busteed ‘most likely shot them himself’, inferring a less than orthodox military execution. (this was almost a direct quote from a previous article by the notorious Eoghan Harris in The Sunday Independent , incredibly) To be fair to that paper they DID publish my reply. . I was surprised and disappointed at such lack of care in verification from our president , whom i generally respect and indeed concur with on many issues.
Nor were any of the above attempts at saving all involved from execution even mentioned in his speech. Nor indeed was the alleged attack on Norah Busteed even mentioned, odd for a speech which seemed concerned with violence against women among other things. One would have also thought that The Irish Times might have checked their facts too, in reporting on same.. So much more up to date information is now thankfully available, than was even in the relatively recent past. Shoddy at the least., biased and most unfair too.
Context and narrative are most important if one is to maintain accuracy.*
Finally, Frank Busteed mentions in the 1974 book on these events ( Execution) and in his testimony to Ernie o’ Malley over 20 years earlier, that his mother Norah Busteed was interrogated by four Auxiliary officers within days of these executions, on the night of March 14th 1921.
She died the next day. Her death cert states ‘Heart failure ‘
War can indeed be terrible.
Brian o’ Donoghue (grandson of Frank Busteed)