Ethnic Cleansing, Ethical Smearing and Irish Historians



Do most academic historians of twentieth-century Ireland conform to a ‘constitutional narrative’, driven by a moral imperative to subvert republican interpretations? Has their shared political agenda led to widespread distortion, suppression, ‘elision’ and falsification of the evidential record? Is it high time to root out ‘the insidious influence of Irish public histories presented as objective historical evidence'? In the view of John M. Regan, the answer in all cases is an emphatic ‘yes’. This riposte to his recent article in History examines the credibility of Regan's critique, with particular attention to his claim that the late Peter Hart was guilty of ‘academic fraud’ in his controversial analysis of republican sectarianism and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the Irish revolution. When closely examined, Regan's analysis seems perverse and untenable, implicitly relying on a reductionist conspiracy theory which ignores the rich variety and sound scholarship displayed by several generations of historians of modern Ireland.