Updated: 07/03/13 : 09:30:41
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Sligo documentary criticised in leading history magazine

Special Report

THE RECENT television documentary by ex Tanaiste Michael McDowell on the slaying of Sligo's Nobel Six during the Civil War has been criticised in a leading history magazine.

McDowell ''overlooked (a) key source'' contained in Military Archives which confirms that five of the six named killers were natives of Co Longford, says History Ireland magazine.

'Main Culprit'

The article by Philip McConway, a former Trinity College doctorate student on the Civil War, also names whom he terms ''the main culprit'' in the incident on Ben Bulben in September 1922.

This individual and another officer ''decided to shoot their prisoners,'' who had earlier been ''disarmed and identified,'' says Mr McConway.

The Army unit involved in the incident had 56 troops but, says Mr McConway ''most of the troops refused to volunteer for a firing squad.''

Neither the Army nor Cumann na nGaedhael -- now Fine Gael -- has yet formally apologised for the slayings. See Sligo Today 20/9/2012.

In a further criticism, Mr McConway said the recent RTE documentary had ''a chilling ambivalence towards excesses by a government professing to uphold law and order while permitting troops to flout it.''

Worse atrocities

Observers Mr McConway in History Ireland: ''Turning a blind eye to the harrowing misdeeds at Benbulben, where the son of a minister and an elected TD were callously cut down by machine-gun fire while prisoners, ensured that worse atrocities would follow, with soldiers knowing they would not face punishment.

The author also says that McDowell unravelled ''a web of duplicity.''

''He persuasively argues,'' says the History Ireland article ''that there was a cover-up by senior officers, who lied and fabricated evidence to conceal a premeditated atrocity.''

The documentary ''The Lost Son'' showed ex Tanaiste Michael McDowell revisit the scene where his relative Brian MacNeill was killed while opposing his father's government.

Mr MacNeill, whose mother supported his actions, is commemorated by the Noble Six memorial in Sligo Cemetery but he is not buried there.

The article is published in the March/April issue of ''History Ireland'' magazine, priced 7 euro.