Your program will enlighten many Americans-including myself- about the violent
political realities of the Irish situation since 1969. Our normal sources of
information (misinformation) consists of two minute bomb clips on the networks
and/or sketchy wire services stories. Your account places in dramatic focus the
complexity of political and military forces in Ireland that most of us on this side
of the Atlantic do not understand. The savage acts of violence carried out by all
sides and graphically portrayed in the program are powerful statements that the
pursuit of a peaceful solution is worth the political risk by all interested
Your coverage was very one sided and still did not speak to the root of the problem.
You should follow up with a show on the History of Ireland and Show how the English
first stole all Irish land of value then tried to kill off the native population
i.e. penal laws,the cromwellian days, the genocide in the mid 1800's that most pass
off as a famine. Lets show the whole truth and mention how the loyalist
paramilitarties have p until the 1990's have killed more Catholics that the IRA. If
you were not so closley aassociated with the BBC I might actually think you would
I don't see peace coming to Northern for Ireland many year. I am of Irish decent and
raised a protestant, my best friend (Irish also) was raised a Catholic. We both
agree that Religion has brought Ireland much saddness. The British should get out
and stay out, they have brought much untold misery and suffering to the world since
they became a nation. I depise the British for their attitudes, arrogance and
As someone who lived in the UK between 1982 and 1992 I cannot
believe all the IRA attrocities omitted from the broadcast that hardened the
British against the IRA. By Concentrating on soft targets such as pub bombings, the
Harrod's Christmas bombing and the most outstanding attack at a memorial service on
Rememberance Sunday in Enniskillin, murdering both Catholic and Protestants alike
the IRA showed themselves for the cowards they are. After the attack in
Enniskillin, I thought maybe this will be the time Jerry Adams will show himself to
be a man of integrety, condemning the shedding of innocent blood, but no, he called
it a legitimate target.
I watched your program covering the IRA struggles in Northern Ireland. I
found the program very informative. This aspect of Irish history, along
with studies of Irish culture in general, interests me. I often feel at a
disadvantage (or perhaps advantage, depending on how one views it) as a
member of the younger generation -- I am 27. Of course, I have become
increasingly aware of the ongoing conflict in Ireland as I have grown
older, but I had not understood many of the details about the political
forces behind it. Your program helped to bring together some of the major
events and figures involved in this war. Thank you.
Tonight's episode, The Secret History of the I.R.A., was the most biased peice of
"news gathering" I've seen in several years. Your "documentary" on the history of
the IRA was slanted, incomplete, and at times bordered on Orwellian propoganda.
Your description of the IRA and Sinn Fein casts them as, at best, misguided
villians, at worst as sinister blood-hungry monsters. You make no mention whatever
of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the fatalities in Northern Ireland
have been suffered by the Catholics at the hands of British supported 'Loyalist.'
The frequent use of the phrases " Catholics 'feel'" or " the Catholics perceive
themselves to be" casts intentional doubt on the truth of their position. That
these phrases were ubiquitous in your narrative is too glaring to be passed off as
an oversight. What agenda are you trying to put forth ?
The use of gerrymandering to disable a segment of the popluation from voting, the
invocation of the "Special Powers Act" to strip that population of it's rights,
Britain's continuing military occupation of a segment of a neighboring country, the
underhanded and disingenuous 'diplomancy' of the British government in this matter
are facts. Not perceptions. They are a necessary part of the story. To give them
short shrift is sloppy newgathering. To omit them entirely, as you have done,
creates a powerful and misleading lie.
When the credits rolled I wasn't suprised to see the letters BBC as the author of
the peice. What saddened me was that PBS was right beside them.
I would like to point out that I am an American of predominantly African descent. I
am not a Catholic. I have no personal stake whatever in the outcome of the Irish
conflict. I simply wish, if you're going to tell these stories, that you be
responsible enough to tell them in a balanced and truthful way.
G. Alden Thorne
Whether there will be peace depends on two things: one is the readiness of the
hardline loyalists to end the harassment of the nationalist community, as is still
going on with the blockades of Catholic churches in County Antrim, and the other is
the readiness of the British government to take as seriously the assaults on
Catholic civilians as it has attacks by the IRA against members of the police and
Los Angeles CA
Thank you so much for providing a deep look into a much superficially covered
conflict and its most publicized protagonist/ antagonist: Sinn Fenn and the IRA.
It is an utter shame that the coverage of a thirty year hell of human stupidity,
treachery, hypocracy, and tragedy has been lacking in any discussion of motive or
reason. Until now, I do not believe that many Americans have seen anything of this
conflict outside of the bombings and shootings. The charting of the initial
independance movements, Bloody Sunday, and to current times alone did more to at
least give an idea of how these types of war occur than the lackluster information
one gets from the news and from school.
Most certainly in a conflict this heated, some people close to the "troubles" on
either side may find exception with the focus and believe that there is a possible
bias with this program. Very well, but for the rest of America, we are glad at
least to see a keyhole look into the minds of some of the major players, these
peacemakers and peacebreakers. I do wish that, at the same time, that some more
emphasis and information on how exactly groups like this, even anywhere else in the
world, get their funding. The American/ British funding connections to either side
of the war would have been a very intriguing subject. Possibly a subject for a
Frontline has tempered pictures of gutted buildings and bloodied victims with
background detail in a way that so profoundly cries for a peaceful solution way
more than any of the sensationalist coverage from the "info-tainment" types. After
this program, I do not fathom how people in America, at this time or considering in
the future, can fund ANY group, organization, or government that at all picks up
arms to secure its freedoms or policies. It is not a game, it is not some
Hollywood fantasy, it is not a way to augment their nationalist or religious
loyalties. These Americans are not investing in freedom, they are merely paying
for death. Hopefully, these aforementioned people, will reconsider: for the sake
of themselves and for the sake of the Irish people, on either side, who will be
victimized by such gifts..
Thank you again for broadcasting this program and may you have many more successes
with such programs of depth and illuminating coverage.
I have just finished watching your latest program on the IRA issue.
I must say that I was appaled at the lack of full coverage of the issue.
First of all what of the majority of the Nothern Irish people? Why wasn't
their point of view explored? I must say that you portrayed them in a poor
light and mention them so little one would think that they didn't even
exist! No only this but why are the IRA portrayed as hard fighting heroes?
Is it because they are a minority that they are protrayed in such a good
manner or is it because the Irish American lobby is so great? The main issue
is why should the majority of Northern Ireland have to be forced into a
union at gun point if this isn't their democratic choice? Why wasn't this
aspect look at? This program has needlessly glamourize the IRA and vilified
both the British and the majority of Nothern Ireland. I am ashamed that this
biased view is supposed to inform anyone. I honestly believe that the reason
why the IRA is and was so well equiped in arms and funds is due to programs
such as yours who portray them as heroes to the general public! After all it
seems that all their supplies are saddly coming from our nation! Why doesn't
that bother us? I suppose you wouldn't consider a program on Timothy Macvey
as a freedom fighter? So why portray ths IRA as such? Terrorism is wrong!
Didn't such men as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
prove that point. Shame on Frontline for making a bunch of minority
extremist into heroes!
The role of Irish-Americans in supplying aid and comfort to a bunch of sociopathic
murders makes me sick and disgusted. I've spoken to Irish Catholics both in
Ireland itself and those living in England. They are also appalled by the
ignorance of Irish-Americans who romanticize these thugs.
My family and I lived in London for year and were subject to IRA terrorism there:
terrorism bought and paid for in the good old USA. The IRA doesn't care who iT
kills or maims, including women, children or visiting Americans, in order to get
its way. How can setting car bombs on busy streets, railway platforms at rush hour,
aboard Tube trains running in underground tunnels, and incendiary devices planted
in crowded London department stores be called the act of soldiers?
The people of Northern Ireland need peace,democracy and religious equality more
than they need to be part of the Irish republic, but the "hard men" will never
(underlined) give it to them.
My surname is Irish and I am Catholic.
Tonight's Frontline was a model of unbiassed objective reporting allowing the
viewer to make up his, or her, own mind about a complex situation. It
demonstrated the blunders and miscalculations of both sides over the past,
almost 30 years.
The question to Mrs MacKearney at the end of the program relative to what the
sacrifice of three sons has accomplished brought out the sheer futileness of
This was by far the best PBS documentary of the past year.
I think that until there is a total withdrawl of the British and a complete
unification of Ireland, that the prospects of a lasting peace are not good. In my
opinion the Brits are not going to relenquish their grip on Northern Ireland if
they think that the military offensive is no longer a threat and until they realize
that their days of colonialisim are over they will no leave. Just look how long it
took them to give up Hong Kong, and they still haven't even considered leaving
Gibraltar or The Falklands. It is like an open wound for them to give back what
they have taken from others. I fully support the efforts of the IRA and Sinn Fein
and I pray for the day when Ireland is once again united.
Las Cruces, NM
Thank you for the report on the
IRA. It was a little extrodinary in its integrity. The role of the Brithish as
occupiers and oppressors was not too deeply hidden under "anti-terrorist" rhetoric.
I believe it is obvious that the IRA does nothing more or less than can be expected
of people with dignity when confronted with bald imperialistic agression and
domination. How many times must this lesson be learned?
I wish that the report could have mentioned that the meaning of Sinn Fein in Gaelic
is "Ourselves Alone". British gov't tricks and lies over literally hundreds of
years have taught these soldiers well. They have advanced the cause of a united
Ireland which is the foundation of peace there.
Terrrence Finnerty Burke
I was sickened to see the criminal waste committed by the IRA. I was
shamed to think it bankrolled by the U.S. This struggle is about power,
not human rights. I see no Irish republican cause worthy of American
support or interest.
Here in America why should anyone resident more than a generation feel
loyalty to any other country? America would condemn German-Americans for
supporting neo-Nazism in a united Germany, or, in fact, any cause that
differed from Americaís direct interests. How can we classify this as
anything but hatred?
I am astounded at our governmentís mishandling of this situation and for
turning its back on our closest ally: the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland. We have no business in funding these miseries or in
adjudicating their outcome.
Thank you PBS for airing a program that would never even surface as a sounbyte on
other networks! I have a strong response to viewing "Behind the Mask". John Major
demonstrated that he was just as foolish as Margaret Thatcher in underestimating
the IRA, Sinn Fein, Irish-Americans, and the consequence of arrogance. How are
peace talks, or even negotiations of peace talks ever going to be constructive
unless you invite all of the parties involved? It is presumptious to assert that
Sinn Fein should cripple themselves before trying to attempt a resolution. When
you shoot people during peaceful protests, such as Bloody Sunday, you loose the
right to make such demands; you loose the trust of a people. I found his
impatience and pompous behavior startling and offensive, NOT diplomatic. As far as
his disgust with President Clinton's decision to grant Gerry Adams a Visa, I am
equally offended. Ian Paisley not only has a Visa, but that animal is allowed to
come and go as he pleases. The least Clinton could do is offer a Visa to Gerry Adams. Once again thank
you for airing the program.
Because of my Irish heritage I have always had
an interest in developing an understanding of
the "troubles." An understanding that many Americans
really don't have. I am currently at university
attending St. Bonaventure and I am working on
a paper for my political science class. I decided
to do it on the troubles (more specifically the
British reactions to them). The Frontline special
was extremely helpful, especially in regards to
the developments of the peace process today. All
I can say is that I have always been in favor of a
united Ireland (even though it seems to be an
impossibility). I do feel that a British withdrawal
will futher the process. Compromise is the key.
If any thing can be learned it is that violence only
breeds more violence. This must be kept in mind at
Pretty good show. I think it missed the point of the use of force by loyalist and
crown forces and how many have died at their hands. The first bomb and the first
dead member of the RUC came from the loyalist. It serves to inform people that the
IRA isn't the military force conducting bombings etc. in Ireland. Some authors
place the number of dead by their hand as higher than the death toll from the
For years the British Conservative Party have tried to convince the British public
and the world
that no bargaining could ever be done with the IRA and Sinn Fein. The British people
made there opionion heard with a new Labour Party in government that actualy has
intentions for real
and lasting peace. At this point it would have been fatal for the IRA not to declare
a cease-fire and
settle for some type of compromise that could benefit all parties involved.
While I do not consider myself an I.R.A. supporter, the program made clear the
reasons for the escalation of I.R.A. violence in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
The Catholic minority in the six counties was economically and politically excluded
from society. To expect anything but a violent response to this situation was
naive at best. The consensus seems to be that the Unionists are no longer in a
position to block progress toward a united Ireland. I pray that it is so. I also
pray that the members of the Provisional I.R.A. have come to realize the futility
of bloodshed in this conflict.