Donegal Journalist and former Language Commissioner, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, is leading a campaign, supported by President Michael D. Higgins, to secure posthumous pardons for innocent men hanged or imprisoned for life for the infamous Mám Trasna murders in 1882, which is set to receive a significant boost, with the screening of a major new drama-documentary on TG4.
In a feature length docu-drama, Murdair Mhám Trasna (The Mám Trasna Murders), to be aired on TG4, at 9.30pm, on April 4, President Michael D. Higgins reveals that the Government has appointed an expert to examine the case for granting posthumous pardons to Maolra Seoighe and the innocent men convicted of the historic murders.
Murdair Mhám Trasna is based on the book ‘Éagóir’, written by former Language Commissioner and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta journalist, Seán Ó Cuirreáin who hails from near Gortahork in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
The film includes contributions from President Higgins, Senior Counsel Luan Ó Braonain, Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, relatives of the deceased and many more.
The President says he is looking forward to hearing the expert’s opinion and the Government’s advice on one of the most famous miscarriages of justice in British and Irish legal history.
“At that stage, I will be returning to this issue to see what I can do. If it were up to me, the formalities aside, I would be happy to accept that the injustice which occurred should be recognized. My view is that the moral issue is clear,” the President says.
“Everything that happened at the level of the State was horrendous. There was bribery involved. The accused didn’t get a proper chance to defend themselves. There wasn’t an atmosphere of equality and there was no equality as regards legal processes at that time.”
Murdair Mhám Trasna, centres on an infamous event in Irish history, the brutal slaying in 1882 of a family of five in the remote village of Mám Trasna in the west of Ireland.
A swift and severe response from the British authorities led to the conviction of innocent people, the hanging of some and the imprisonment of others as a result of perjured evidence and bribery.
The events were described by the prominent British historian Robert Kee as “one of the most blatant miscarriages of justice in British legal history”.
As the miscarriage of justice began to unfold and the perjury was admitted in the press, both nationally and internationally at the time, a refusal by Gladstone’s government to allow a public inquiry contributed to the fall of that government in Westminster in 1885.
The innocent victims have never been pardoned by the authorities but this feature length production moves that prospect significantly closer.
Murdair Mhám Trasna, which has recently been selected to represent Ireland in the history category at the Celtic Media Festival, is produced by Galway based production company ROSG for TG4, with support from theBroadcasting Authority of Ireland.
You can see the full account of the events that unfolded, when Murdair Mhám Trasna is broadcast, on April 4 at 9.30pm on TG4.
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