SIR – May I make three points about Tom Cooper’s tantrum of a letter in last week’s Southern Star in which he made wild accusations about the 2012 RTE film, An Tost Fada, presented by Eoghan Harris and produced by me for Praxis Pictures ?
First, Cooper is a serial complainer to editors of national newspapers on issues which offend his extreme nationalist politics, including attacking the SDLP for commemorating the Irish dead of WW1.
Second, Cooper’s complaint about alleged bias in An Tost Fada was rejected by the Broadasting Authority of Ireland.
Third, An Tost Fada is the personal testimony of Canon George Salter and not a polemic by Eoghan Harris or myself, as Cooper implies.
Canon Salter told a story that was both tragic and redemptive: how in April 1921, the IRA intimidated his father and mother to leave their family farm near Dunmanway at few hours’ notice – but how they later returned to West Cork and resumed farming.
Cooper, having lost his case at the BAI, falls back on neurotic nit-picking. He calls it ‘a serious error’ when Canon Salter conflates the date of the shooting of two innocent Protestant farmers, Matthew Connell and William Sweetnam, in February 1921, with the shooting of 13 Protestants in the Bandon Valley in April 1922 – a slip of memory by an elderly man in his late eighties, which has no bearing whatsoever on the core issue of IRA intimidation.
Cooper is less interested in the dates than in denial. He claims Connell and Sweetnam were shot ‘for reasons that were not sectarian.’ That’s not how it seemed to Protestants at the time.
As producer of the multi award- winning film Close to Evil, featuring Bergen- Belsen survivor, Tomi Reichental, let me put Cooper’s campaign to explain away IRA crimes in a European context.
Recently, I returned with Tomi Reichental to film in Eastern European countries where ethnic cleansing of Jews had taken place. Everywhere we met a few good people who were willing to face what their grandfathers had done. But mostly we met nationalists and neo-fascists in deep denial.
Canon George Salter’s testimony in An Tost Fada is a contribution to the truth that sets us free, and we are proud to present it as part of the West Cork History Festival.
Blackrock, Co Dublin.