I challenge anyone to persuade me of one or all of the following propositions –
1. That Roy Foster is honest.
2. That by occupying a Chair of History in Oxford University he adds lustre to that seat of learning.
3. That his work redounds to the glory of God or the honour of Ireland.
A caveat: Neither the use or threat of the use of electrodes or other means of torture is permissible for such persuasion.
My challenge arises from the review of a book on Eamon de Valera which appeared recently in The Spectator attributed to Professor Foster.
When I think of de Valera I think of ballots and elections from 1917 to 1966. When Foster thinks of Dev he thinks ballocks and erections and his starting point is a campaign for the legalisation of the sale of contraceptives in the Republic in 1971.
I prefer to start in 1935 when Fianna Fail, led by Dev, had won two General Elections in a row, and Dev had also been elected President of the General Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva. In Geneva Dev said that the League should oppose Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia and in Ireland he addressed his fellow citizens telling them he would commit the Irish Army to support the League in opposing the Italian Dictator. Supporting Mussolini were Pope Pius XI, Winston Churchill, William Cosgrave and Fine Gael. Anthony Eden described Dev as a firebrand for his commitment to the Covenant of the League which had been established by the imperialist
victors of the Great War. In 1935 the sale of contraceptives was banned in Ireland and a poll in 1977, when Dev had been buried two years, found only 47% of those polled favoured the ban’s removal.
In 1936, through the agency of the British intelligence agent Hugh Pollard, General Franco was flown from the Canary Islands to Spanish Morocco whence he launched his attack on Spanish democracy. Siding with the mutineer were the Pope, the Spanish hierarchy, the Irish hierarchy, the Irish Independent and the Fine Gael Party, which mobilised an armed Irish contingent in support of Franco. Ireland, led by de Valera, continued to recognise the Spanish Republic for three years until Franco was installed in Madrid. Hugh Pollard became MI6 Station Chief in the British Embassy there. Pollard had a dishonourable record in Ireland in 1920-1921.
Both the Sunday Times and the Spectator suggest that de Valera, Franco and Salazar were cut from the same cloth. That is arrant nonsense, But it is nonsense with Professor Foster’s imprimatur.
Who’ll take up my challenge? Blackshirts? “Hitler Shirts?” Blue Shirts? Come on ye Black ‘n’ Tans!