By Ray O’Hanlon
The CNN documentary series “The Seventies” is stuck in a time warp of misinformation with regard to Northern Ireland.
This is the view of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in regard to the much touted lookback at the decade in which the North Troubles were making worldwide headlines.
In a statement, the AOH said it was “both disappointed and saddened” that CNN, a major news network, would, in a recent episode of the series entitled “The Golden Age of Terrorism” “continue to perpetuate a sadly dated, skewed and inaccurate depiction of the struggle for freedom in Northern Ireland.”
It was hoped that the episode (aired July 30th) would take advantage of the forty years that have transpired between those dark days in Irish history and today to bring fresh perspective and analysis to the human tragedy that was the Troubles, said AOH Political Education Chairman, Neil Cosgrove, in a statement.
“Unfortunately, CNN's segments concerning ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland presented viewers only the same highly bowdlerized depiction of events as originally offered by the British state-run BBC which were accepted uncritically by the American media of the 70s and which CNN promulgates fresh again in 2015,” said Cosgrove.
And he continued: “CNN continues the sad media tradition of presenting a highly censored depiction of the conflict in Northern Ireland, completely omitting the ‘loyalist’ paramilitaries such as the UVF and UDA who committed numerous atrocities in collusion with the British State.
“It was particularly reprehensible and inaccurate to describe the proximate cause of Bloody Sunday, a massacre which the Saville Inquiry held the members of the British Parachute Regiment fully accountable and vindicated the innocence of the Irish victims, as a reaction to ‘the Internment of terrorists,” when history shows that due to faulty British intelligence many of those interned without charges, nor trial, had no terrorist connections.
“The true root of the Troubles in the 70s grew out of rampant discrimination in hiring and housing, the violent suppression of peaceful civil rights marchers who were attempting to emulate America’s civil rights movement, and a military sent in as ‘peacemakers’ who instead became active and partisan belligerents.”
Cosgrove said that the AOH was taking note that the series did not cover incidents such as the shooting without provocation of innocent civilians by members of the same parachute regiment in Ballymurphy in August 1971, the invasion and bombing of the Republic of Ireland by loyalist paramilitaries supported by members of the British military and intelligence forces in the Dublin/Monaghan Bombings of May 1974, or the murder of innocent civilians by members of the UVF and UDR in the Miami Showband Massacre in July 1975, “an event which we note with sad irony occurred one day shy of forty years prior to CNN’s airing this skewed depiction of the Troubles.”
He said that though well within the remit of the show, CNN was being “conspicuously silent” on acts of loyalist and state terrorism.
“We also note that unlike other groups covered in the program, there was no contemporary analysis, nor present day interviews, with people who had actually experienced the Troubles first hand.
“At a time when fresh revelations are showing that the British government was an active and willing participant in furthering the violence of the Troubles, when weapons used by loyalist paramilitaries to commit murder previously declared ‘lost’ by the RUC and PSNI are ‘found’ on display in the Imperial War Museum in London, CNN’s coverage of the conflict in Northern Ireland as depicted in ‘the Seventies’ is as dated as its title, and instead of bringing illumination to that conflict, merely parrots the flawed, and now discredited, sound bites of forty years ago.”