Author: mcdermottj

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday (Hells Kitchen/Granada, 2002), directed by Paul Greengrass, was inspired by Don Mullan’s book, ‘Eyewitness Bloody Sunday’. Mullan was co-producer and, at the request of the director, had a cameo role as a Bogside priest.

The movie went on to win several international awards including Sundance and the Berlin Golden Bear.

Following the success of Bloody Sunday, Greengrass asked Don to work with him on the movie Omagh.

Bloody Sunday launched Paul Greengrass into a successful Hollywood career.

Official Trailer

Bloody Sunday on Wikipedia

Don Mullan discusses Bloody Sunday at DePaul University, Chicago, USA

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Omagh

Omagh

(Hells Kitchen/Channel Four Films) 2004

On the 15 August 1998 a Real IRA car bomb exploded in the busy market town of Omagh, Co. Tyrone. Its intention was to destabilise the fledgling Northern Ireland Peace Process. 29 people perished, including a mother pregnant with twin, with hundreds maimed and injured in what remains the greatest loss of life in a single incident related to the ‘Troubles’.

The suffering of the families was compounded when they discovered the intelligence services had been informed that Omagh was being targeted. The movie explores the role of the Omagh Support Group in pursuing the perpetrators and holding the authorities accountable for a tragedy they might have stopped.

The decision to make the movie Omagh was based on a 105-page report which Don Mullan wrote at the request of director Paul Greengrass and Tiger Aspect Films (London), based on his encounter with all of the families bereaved in the horrific bombing. The writing of that report remains one of the most harrowing tasks ever undertaken by Mullan.

Mullan was co-producer of the movie which also won several international prizes including the San Sabastian and Toronto Film Festivals.

Official Trailer

Omagh on Wikipedia

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The Titanic Parable Society

The Titanic Parable Society

“No longer looking back and down – but forward and up!

Inspired by James Cameron’s ‘Final World’

The Titanic Parable Society is inspired by the National Geographic Chanel’s documentary ‘Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron’ (Broadcast April 8, 2012).

The Society is inspired by two important snippets from James Cameron’s ‘final word’, spoken at the conclusion of the documentary and aims to harness these as the inspiration for this initiative:

1. “It is time to pass the baton… For me it is so much more than simply an exercise in forensic archaeology…”

2. “Part of the Titanic parable… is to make it a microcosm for the world… you’ve got 1st Class, 2nd Class, 3rd Class, while in our world now you have developed nations and underdeveloped nations; you’ve got the starving millions who are going to be the ones most affected by the next iceberg we hit, which is going to be climate change.”

As a new generation of Titanic enthusiasts emerge it is hoped they will take the baton from James Cameron and will prove him correct in showing that Titanic is “so much more than simply an exercise in forensic archaeology.” The aim is that they will take the ‘Titanic Parable’ and make it relevant, as he does, to the challenges that face humanity today.

However, we cannot allow James Cameron to simply walk away by saying ‘We can see the iceberg (Climate Change) ahead of us right now but we can’t turn… until our lives are put at risk by the moment of truth, we don’t know what we would do. And that’s my final word.” Surely it was not intentional, but there is no hope in this final word of James Cameron. There is no call to the young generation who might wish to take the baton from Mr. Cameron and to, at least, try and change direction and avert the disaster he appears to think is inevitable.

What will the new Titanic Parable Society seek to do?

The first initiative of the Society will be to create a life-giving memorial to the only black man on board Titanic, Joseph Laroche, a native of Haiti. The Titanic Parable is so full of heroic and inspirational stories and Joseph Laroche is one such hero who saved his pregnant French wife and their two daughters, before dying in the tragedy.

We will do this by partnering with a humanitarian organization to build 1512 houses in Haiti – one for every human being who perished in the tragedy.

How?

The aim is to engage with students in schools, colleagues and universities throughout the world to raise US$2,500 each

Joseph Laroche and family

to build a basic house in Haiti with the assistance of a Humanitarian organization engaging local Haitian craftsmen and women.

Each educational institution will be invited to establish a partner Titanic Parable Society and to commit to building a house as a life-giving memorial to one of Titanic’s 1512 victims.

Joseph Laroche suffered racism in France and was returning to his native Haiti with his young family to begin a new life. He was just one of hundreds of immigrants on board Titanic who dreamed of a better future. We have chosen Joseph Laroche as our first inspiration because of the current suffering of the Haitian people, following the devastating earthquake in 2010 that left millions homeless.

But we are also inspired by Joseph Laroche’s native Haiti. Haiti was the first Black Republic, achieving its independence from France in 1803. Haiti was the inspiration for the ending of slavery worldwide. Yet, Haiti was punished by great powers whose economies were being fuelled by slavery. Haiti has had to carry a very heavy burden for over two centuries. Today it is the poorest country in the Western World. The Titanic Parable Society wishes to help ease the suffering of Haiti and offer transformative hope by making the world realize the great debt of gratitude we owe to a nation that played a pivotal role in ending slavery.

Challenge

As our efforts build momentum, we wish to create a double effect by challenging James Cameron and all who benefited from the US$2 billion box office takings from the movie ‘Titanic’ to match us dollar for dollar. This way we will demonstrate that Titanic can, indeed, be a powerful parable and, as we enter a new century of Titanic remembrance, continue to save and improve lives, especially of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

No longer looking back and down

As an inspiration to our Titanic Parable Society, our 2nd initiative will be to invite James Cameron to DePaul University, Chicago in 2022, where the idea of the Society was first conceived, to give a final lecture on Titanic in which he encourages new generations of Titanic enthusiasts to – at least – try and change course and avert the disaster he has predicted. James Cameron’s ‘Final Word’, as it stands, has no hope. There is not even a call to lower the life boats.

We believe that James Cameron has an important message of hope to

Not even a call to lower the life boats

offer to a new generation that wishes to take from him the baton and whose motto is: ‘No longer looking back and down – but forward and up!’

We look forward to being inspired and know that our Titanic Parable Society can be a legacy James Cameron will be proud of in the future.

Don Mullan
4 July 2012

 

Transcript of James Cameron’s ‘Final Word’ follows:

“I’ve been working on Titanic for nearly 20 years. I’ve planned this investigation to be my final word. It’s time for me to pass the baton and move on to some new challenges. But I’ll never stop thinking about Titanic. For me it is so much more than simply an exercise in forensic archaeology.

Part of the Titanic parable is of arrogance, of hubris, of the sense that we’re too big to fail. Well, where have we heard that one before?

There was this big machine, this human system that was pushing forward with so much momentum that it couldn’t turn, it couldn’t stop in time to avert a disaster. And that’s what we have right now.

Within that human system on board that ship, if you want to make it a microcosm for the world, you have different classes: you’ve got 1st Class, 2nd Class, 3rd Class, while in our world now you have developed nations and undeveloped nations; you’ve got the starving millions who are going to be the ones most affected by the next iceberg we hit, which is going to be climate change.

We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now but we can’t turn. We can’t turn because of the momentum of the system: political momentum, business momentum. There are too many people making money out of the system, the way the system works right now. And those people, frankly, have their hands on the levers of power and aren’t ready to let them go. Until they do, we’re not going to be able to turn and miss that iceberg and we’re going to hit it.

When we hit it, the rich are still going to get their access to food, to arable land, to water and so on. It’s going to be the poor; it’s going to be the steerage who are going to be impacted. And it was the same with Titanic. And I think that’s why this story will always fascinate people; because it’s a perfect little encapsulation of the world and all social spectra. But until our lives are really put at risk by the moment of truth, we don’t know what we would do. And that’s my final word!”

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The Pelé Peace Medal

The Pelé Peace Medal

In my life I have scored over one thousand goals.

But the goal that people remember is the one I never scored!” He was referring to an iconic World Cup moment during the clash of the World Champions, England and Brazil, in the 1970 Mexico tournament.
It occurred shortly after midday on Sunday, June 7th as tens of millions of fanatical fans crowded around their television sets in Brazil and the UK.

In the British and Irish Isles we are used to the measured excitement of our television football commentators.
But the incident Pelé is referring to was accompanied back home in Brazil by near hysteria in the voice of a Brazilian commentator.

It can be appreciated in this video:

The commentator’s voice undulates as a pass from Brazil’s captain, Carlos Alberto, is struck with supreme accuracy, long and hard, into the path of Jairzinho.

From England’s backline Jairzinho lifts the ball over four English defenders and onto the head of Pelé who delivers an unstoppable downward projectile from the edge of the six yard box.

By now the commentator’s voice is sounding like a Gatling-gun, spewing out Portuguese adjectives with hardly time for a breath.

His tone reaches a frenzied crescendo as the partisan crowd in the packed Guadalajara Stadium rise in unison to celebrate Brazil’s first goal against the World Champions.

Instantaneously the commentator’s voice becomes a prolonged pain-filled gasp of disbelief.

Somehow, Gordon Banks has raced from the far post and, with a gravity defying lunge, manages to harness the power of Pelé’s header to safely steer the ball over the bar.

The cheering gives way to a thunderous applause of respect for Banks and a real friendship between Banks and Pelé is born.

Thirty-eight years after ‘That Save’ and two-weeks after Pelé’s story to the Press, Banks is standing in Stoke City FC’s Britannia Stadium and apologising to Pelé for having made it: “People all around the world are still amazed by that save.

If only I had known how important that goal would be today – I wouldn’t have saved it.

It’s still in the back of my mind today… I just don’t know how or why that happened.

Sorry Pelé.

Sorry!” On the YouTube link, the reader will realise that Banks, of course, is speaking to camera with tongue-incheek.

For any goalkeeper – especially one of history’s greatest – to lament not having allowed an adversary to score against him would be a blasphemy.

It’s all part of a clever marketing ploy to help promote a campaign spearheaded by Pelé called Gols pela Vida – Goals for Life.

The origin of the campaign goes back to an evening almost 40 years ago in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium, when – literally – all of Brazil stopped to watch a moment of history.

It was November 19, 1969.
The world’s biggest stadium was packed to capacity for a game featuring Santos and Vasco da Gama.
Pelé entered the game having already scored 999 goals in his career.
‘O Milesimo’ – The Thousandth – was eagerly anticipated.
When Santos was awarded a penalty and it became clear that Pelé was going to take it, Brazilian television stations interrupted their transmissions and immediately took a live-feed from Maracanã Stadium.
On cue, as the ball hit the back of the net, firecrackers exploded around the stadium and a spontaneous fiesta, as only Brazilians know how to do, erupted across the nation.
Decades later Pelé recalled: “I ran straight to the back of the net and picked up the ball and kissed it.
The stadium was erupting with firecrackers and cheers.
All of a sudden I was surrounded by a huge crowd of journalists and reporters.
They put their microphones in my face and I dedicated the goal to the children of Brazil.
I said we needed to look after the ‘criancinhas’, the little children.
Then I cried.
I was put on someone’s shoulders and I held the ball up high.
Play stopped for twenty minutes as I did a lap of the pitch” In 2005 Pelé’s dedication of his 1000th goal to the children of Brazil reached another dimension.
That year he teamed up with the biggest children’s hospital in Latin America, Hospital Pequeno Príncipe (Little Prince Hospital), in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.
The Hospital was established in 1919 and its services grew and expanded with each successive decade.
At first it was primarily dedicated to treating sick and injured children who were carried to its doors.
Later it established itself as one of Brazil’s top teaching hospitals, enabling it to grow its services to outpatient care and preventative medicine.
Incredibly, the hospital today reaches over quarter of a million children per year, 70% of whom are amongst Brazil’s poorest.
As the new millennium approached, the hospital recognised the need for a dedicated on-site research centre where advanced diagnostic care would be assisted by persistent medical research aimed at finding cures.
Learning of the hospital’s ambitions and needs, Pelé agreed to assist.
With his enthusiastic support, in September 2005, the Little Prince Hospital established the Pelé Pequeno Príncipe Research Institute.

“It is,” Pelé declared at its opening, “the accomplishment of a dream that started in 1969”.
With Pelé’s name and prestige, the research institute is set to grow and has the ambition of becoming one of the world’s leading research centres in combating children’s diseases.
The research institute, however, must find an annual income of £1 million.
The partnership between the Little Prince Hospital and Pelé was given a major lift in 2007 with the assistance of the Brazilian Mint.

Using pioneering lazar technology they devised and launched a campaign called ‘Gols pela Vida’ – Goals for Life.
Their aim is to commemorate each of the 1283 goals scored by Pelé in his career with a gold silver and bronze medal, and in doing so, help create a financial life-line for the Hospital’s work of bringing health, healing and hope to the thousands of Brazilian children it serves daily.

The campaign is a simple but brilliant concept and despite the harsh economic times, could, in addition to helping a good cause, prove to be a worthwhile investment for owners.

Quite apart from being a limited edition of 1283 sets, each coin, and set of coins, are unique in that they each carry an individual number, associated with a specific and verifiable goal scored by Pelé during his illustrious football career.

The medals can be purchased individually or as a set.
Each medal costs £900 (gold); £550 (silver) and £350 (bronze).
A full set costs £1650 (all prices include delivery).
As to be expected, medals numbered 1, 10, 100 and 1000 are not for sale as they are for auction.
The purchaser, in addition to the medal(s) will also receive a Certificate of Authenticity which will bear his or her name, or the name of a designated person who may receive them as a gift.
The certificate also carries details of the opposition Pelé scored the goal against, as well as the date of the game.
Pelé’s decision to partner with the Little Prince Hospital was explained at the launch of the research institute in 2005.
“I only play in a winning team,” he declared, and cited the hospital’s technical-scientific excellence allied to its compassionate assistance to Brazil’s children.
José Álvaro Carneiro, a member of the hospital’s board, states: “In this team there is always space for new solidarity partners.

Individuals and companies can become supporters of the projects of the Little Prince Hospital, which works to guarantee to all the children in our care their primary Human Rights: life and health.” Anyone interested in helping Pelé with his campaign to assist the Pelé Little Prince Research Institute can contact the author of this article for further details at the following address, giving their name and an address to which information can be sent: dmullan@hpp.org.br In recognition of that moment of magic, between Pelé and Banks in Mexico 1970, the Brazilian Mint agreed to add one more set of medals to its Goals for Life collection.

It is numbered 1284 and represents Gordon Banks’ wonder save.
So the great Banksy need not worry for his miracle save is doing more good today than the goal that Pelé “never scored”.

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The Fans World Cup

The Fans World Cup

“Football without fans is nothing”
– John ‘Jock’ Stein CBE

The Fans World Cup is a trophy I hope will become a feature of all World Cup Competitions in the future. It is a simple idea that can easily be extended across other sporting disciplines and eventually be developed at Continental and National levels.

Gordon Banks, Don Mullan, Archbishop Desmondd Tutu, Andrew Edwards (Artist), Pele and Terry Conroy with the Fans World

It is hoped that The Fans World Cup will be presented for the first time at the closing ceremony of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, to the fans of a participating team who are considered to have been the most sporting, friendly and respectful of the games and their hosts.

The aim is to create a trophy that fans aspire to achieve on behalf of their country and it is hoped fans from all participating nations will go to the games wishing to win it. Even if a country’s team fails to win the World Cup, The Fans World Cup would be a trophy every nation would also hope to win and it would be returned with great pride and joy to every successive winning nation.

The prototype of the trophy, designed by myself and Andrew Edwards, was presented to Archbishop Tutu, in the presence of Pelé and Gordon Banks, at the unveiling of the Gordon Banks Monument on 12 July 2008. All three were supportive of the concept, contributed their thoughts and ideas, and were happy to be photographed with the prototype as a sign of their approval and desire to see the idea progress.

The prototype is currently in Brazil and will be presented for consideration to the former FIFA President, Dr. João Havelange, in early 2011. Responding to the idea of a Fans World Cup the Football Association of Ireland commented in July 2008:

… The Football Association of Ireland believes that there is considerable merit to the proposal given the contribution that fans from many countries have made to the overall success of past World Cup tournaments.

An important dimension of the new World Cup is to harness the unrealised potential for good that fans possess and to harness this potential with a view to leaving behind in each host nation a major legacy project.

In the case of 2014, it is my hope The Fans World Cup might contribute to the establishment of an international endowment fund to benefit The Pelé Little Prince Hospital Medical Research Institute in Curitiba, Brazil, serving the biggest children’s hospital in Latin America.

I am in discussions with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pelé about the possibility that they might draw up an aspirational list – a code of conduct – that fans would adhere to in the pursuit of winning the trophy during the 2014 Brazilian World Cup Finals.

There is a simple psychology behind the idea. Fans of the Republic of Ireland pride themselves on being the best fans in the world. When they travel abroad, therefore, to support their national team, they are conscious of the reputation they have of being respectful, good humoured, kind and sporting – win, lose or draw. They regularly leave a good impression and it is not unusual for hosts to express admiration at their behaviour or delight at the prospect of Ireland’s participation in a game because of the reputation of Irish fans. Conscious of this heritage, fans actually look out for each other and, very often, will intervene to diffuse a potentially troublesome situation.

The Fans World Cup – Prototype

Inspiration:

The inspiration was drawn from the following sources, and in keeping with the aspirations of the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace:

(1) The 1914 Christmas Truce story – when German, French, Belgium and British soldiers crossed no-man’s land to sing carols, exchange gifts and play football during the first Christmas of World War I;

(2) A sheaf of wheat: symbol of feeding the world and the UN World Food Agency;

(3) The office of the UN special adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace.

 

Gordon Banks with 3 World Cups

Design:
The base of the trophy will include stone taken from:

–    the site where the Christmas Truce football match was played in 1914, near Mesen-Ploegsteert, Belgium;
–    the football field on Robben Island, where President Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners played football on Saturday afternoons during their long incarceration under the apartheid regime;
–    the site of Pelé’s birthplace, Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Around the base will be coloured bands reflecting the rainbow, and calling to mind Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s hope that following the apartheid era, South Africa would emerge as a Rainbow Nation and inspire the possibility of creating a Rainbow World celebrating the rich diversity of all humanity.

The middle section is a globe, representing the Earth, around which is a circular disc on which rests a football, suggesting the universal appeal of soccer. This disc also evokes ‘other-planetary’ ideas of our vast universe.

The third section is a series of five upturned WWI Lee Enfield rifles (each representing a Continent). An upturned rifle is a symbol of ceasefire and the end of conflict. The rifles are planted into the Earth. Emerging from the rifle butts are sheaves of wheat, a symbol of sustenance and the symbol of the UN World Food Programme. Together these symbolise Disarmament and Development (Development and Peace).

The upturned rifles and sheaves of wheat support a long elegant chalice. While it appears to have a vast capacity, the bowl is modestly shallow, reminding us that the Earth’s resources are there to sustain us all, providing we only take what we really need.

When completed, the trophy will represent the UN hope of harnessing Sport for Development and Peace.

Recognising the Potential of Fans

The Fans World Cup is a simple yet powerful concept.

Soccer is a spectators sport. Those who attend the games provide the electric atmosphere that brings the game to a higher dimension. Amazingly, the governing bodies of international soccer, including FIFA, have so far concentrated exclusively on rewarding the players of the sport, and failed to see the wonderful opportunity to maximise the potential of fans.

In addition to the World Cup, presented to the winning team, there are six other awards presented at the World Cup Finals: (1) The Adidas Golden Boot – awarded to the top goal scorer (2) The Adidas Golden Ball – for best player (3) The Yashin Award – for best goalkeeper (4) The FIFA Fair Play Award – for the most sporting team (5) The Most entertaining team and (6) The Best Young Player. In addition, there is the MasterCard All-Star Team, comprising the best players of the tournament in their respective positions.

The important role of fans has yet to be properly recognised. The Fans World Cup will change this.

Global Viewing Figures – FACTS!

FACT:
The FIFA World Cup Finals are the most-watched sports event in history.

FACT:
The FIFA World Cup Finals is the greatest sports event in the world, with over 140 countries competing for a place in the final 32 slots.

FACT:
Television coverage of the 2006 games was the most extensive ever.

FACT:
–    376 channels aired the event compared to 232 in 2002
–    There were 43,500 broadcasts across 214 counties and territories
–    This amounted to a total coverage of 73,072 hours
o    an increase of 76% on 2002 games (41,435 hours)
o    an 148% increase on the 1998 games.
–    If the 2006 coverage were shown on just one channel, it would take over eight years to broadcast non-stop!
–    A staggering 26.29 billion cumulative viewers watched the 2006 tournament, making it the most-watched sports event in history.

FACT:
Viewers are growing in both established and new markets. For example, the cumulative audience in Brazil increased from 1.35 billion in 2002 to 1.72 billion in 2006 (+27.8%) despite the fact that Brazil won the competition in 2002 and were knocked out in the quarter final stages in 2006. The cumulative audience in North America and the Caribbean was 829.1 million – representing a 76.8% increase over the 2002 total.

Source: FIFA.com, 6 February 2007

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First Night of Freedom

First Night of Freedom

56th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre

Introduction

In 1982 I invited Bishop Desmond Tutu, who was then Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches, to address an international conference on World Peace and Poverty in Dublin, organised to mark the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis of Assisi. He accepted my invitation but was unable to attend as his passport had been confiscated by the Apartheid Regime because he had begun to call for international sanctions against South Africa.

Two years later, just three months before he was declared the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, he fulfilled his commitment to me and came to Dublin. It was the beginning of a friendship which has endured for over three decades.

In 1985 I was denied entrance into South Africa and had my non-visa requirement as an Irish citizen withdrawn because of my anti-apartheid activities. I had been invited by Bishop Tutu, then the first ever black bishop of Johannesburg.

Don Mullan, left, with Leah and Desmond Tutu, lead the 1992 Famine Walk

In 1992, Archbishop Desmond and Mrs Leah Tutu accepted my invitation to lead the 5th annual AFrI Great ‘Famine’ Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, which I had conceived and started in 1988.

In 1994, I was the guest of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Anglican Primate of Southern Africa, at the historic inauguration of President Nelson Mandela. During that visit he invited me to speak at a symposium on Robben Island, where Madiba had spent the majority of his 27 years incarceration, convened to consider its future use.
I have since returned several times to South Africa, most recently on two occasions in 2013, as the guest of the Tutu family, to create a major photographic exhibition for the France/South Africa Season, publicly displayed at Place du Palais Royal, beside the Louvre Museum, Paris. The second visit was to attend the funeral of President Mandela.

Nelson Mandela’s Release

Nelson Mandela walks free, accompanied by his wife, Winnie.

The world held its breath on 11 February 1990 as we awaited our first glimpse of Nelson Mandela following his release. My eldest daughter, Thérèse, will turn 29 on 26 April 2016. One of our most treasured memories is when she was just three-years-old, sitting on my knee, before our television set in Dublin. I wanted her to be a witness to history. It was one of the great and noble days in the history of humanity when Madiba was released from Victor Verster Prison in South Africa.

“Why are you crying Daddy?” my little girl asked.
“I hope you will remember this day, Thérèse”, I replied, “because today the man you see waving and smiling is walking free from prison where he was held by unfair and unjust people for more than 27 years.”

We had yet to comprehend the colossus who filled our screens. Here was a son of Africa, the most abused continent on earth, who elevated the human condition and breathed hope into a tired world – and all because he refused to hate and seek revenge.

Origin of Idea

Nelson Mandela arrives at Bishopscourt, Cape Town, for his first night of freedom, as the guest of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

It had escaped me, as it has escaped most people, the fact that Nelson Mandela spent his first night of Freedom at the residence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Just before returning to Ireland after attending the inauguration of Madiba as the first democratically elected President of the new South Africa on 10 May 1994, I visited the Archbishop at his residence in Bishopscourt, Cape Town. During a tour of the residence he brought both myself and a colleague to a bedroom and informed us that it was here that President Mandela and his wife Winnie had spent his first night after his release from prison. This fact had entirely escaped me.

Over the years the significance of this historical detail has exercised my curiosity and interest. It is the origin of my idea and concept for a stage play, destined for Broadway and the Westend, as well as a book and a major documentary film, simply entitled:

FIRST NIGHT OF FREEDOM

Concept:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is one of the great global icons who bridges the 20th and 21st Century. His fearless commitment to justice and racial equality during the South African apartheid era permanently placed him in physical and moral peril.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu holds aloft the hand of Nelson Mandela in triumph after he was proclaimed State President of South Africa (PHOTO: Dudley Brooks, 10 May 1994)

It is an overlooked but crucial fact of history that it was at the residence of Desmond Tutu Nelson Mandela chose to spend his first night of freedom in Cape Town. It was South Africa’s political leader meeting South Africa’s moral leader who, during the apartheid era (when black political leaders were either in prison, in exile or, like Steve Biko, sent to an early grave) had fearlessly confronted the Apartheid Regime with the doctrine of active non-violence.

While security was a factor, to stay with Tutu was a very deliberate decision by Mandela who was already charting South Africa’s future and the need for a process of truth and reconciliation which he believed Tutu could deliver. It was also Mandela’s recognition and ‘Thank You’ for the seminal role that Desmond Tutu had played in his absence.
Where Mandela spent his first night of freedom, therefore, was both strategic and a statement of intent.

Because of the momentous events that were unfolding around his release, this important moment of South African history has been largely overlooked and the encounter between Mandela and Tutu, its meaning and outcome, has yet to be explored in depth.

Stage Play:
The primary concept is that of creating a four-person drama for stage.
The four characters are: Nelson and Winnie Mandela; and Desmond and Leah Tutu.
The play begins at midnight and ends at dawn, symbolising the transition from darkness to light – from oppression to freedom.
The play offers four major roles for black actors.
The setting is a spacious and comfortable sitting room with a fireplace in the Anglican Archbishop’s residence in Cape Town. The conversation is animated.
The conversation explores the past, present and future hopes for the new South Africa.
All four characters tell many stories of their respective experiences.

Mandela recounts his 17-months on the run, some lucky escapes and the night of August 5th 1962 when the luck of the ‘Black Pimpernel’ ran out at a police roadblock on R103 near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal. He reflects on key historical events, such as Sharpeville, which forced him to change the ANC’s policy of non-violence. He speaks of his frustrations, learning of the unfolding tragedies in his prison cell on Robben Island.

The crowd from which Tutu rescued the alleged police informer

In response to a question from Mandela, Tutu recounts the afternoon at Duduza in July 1985 when, following a funeral, he came upon a crowd about the ‘necklace’ an alleged informer. With a blazing car in the background, the petrol filled tire was already around a young man’s neck, when Tutu risked his own by weighing into the crowd to save the young man’s life.

Leah Tutu recalls her experience at the funeral of Steve Biko in September 1977 and the lies told by the authorities concerning his murder, and questions whether or not Biko was already dead before being placed in a cell in Pretoria after enduring a 1000 kilometre drive on the floor of a South African police Landover, despite a fatal head trauma, inflicted during his torture in East London, that required urgent medical attention.

Winnie Mandela is, at times, belligerent and militant and one senses the anger that she has nursed over three decades of targeted harassment, abuse, house arrest and imprisonment. Truth and Reconciliation is a far cry from the justice she wants exacted on the supporters of apartheid. There is clear tension and disagreement between Nelson and Winnie, evidenced by a heated exchange, over the unexpected tone of reconciliation and forgiveness that Madiba wishes to discuss with Tutu. She doubts if Steve Biko’s family, as an example, will be willing to follow her husband’s direction.

The conversation turns to the present and all that needs to be done, not least organising and campaigning for South Africa’s first democratic elections, the writing of a new constitution, and the transition to an ANC Government.
And then the future, not just Mandela’s request that Tutu act as Chairperson for his proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but also for the time when he and Father Tutu, Winnie and Leah will be no more and future generations, who are the first to be born into freedom, must take responsibility for the country and carry forward their hope of a multi-racial, ethnic, religious rainbow nation.

Desmond Tutu hand President Mandela the TRC Reports

As Dawn breaks and the couples prepare to retire, one hears echoes of the inspiration that filled Madiba’s inauguration speech in May 1994 and Tutu’s opening remarks in 1996 as Chairman of the TRC, all aimed at promoting national unity and reconciliation.

The audience has been witness to an intimate and unique glimpse at history and the personal lives and insights of key historic players in the epic struggle to rid South Africa of the tyranny of apartheid. We are uplifted and left hoping, that this miraculous and marvellous moment of hope, is forever honoured, through humane justice and the politics of integrity, as an epitaph to all who suffered and died for the birth of a new Republic of South Africa.

Interviews, Playwright, Documentary and Book:
There is urgency to record interviews with the key witnesses to Nelson Mandela’s first night of freedom. The key witnesses are advancing in age and it is imperative that we record their memories and reflections as soon as possible. These include Desmond and Leah Tutu, Winnie Mandela and Mandela’s third wife, Graça Machel.
In addition to being primary research material for a playwright, the interviews will also form part of a major international television documentary with the working title: ‘The Making of ‘First Night of Freedom’’.
The recorded interviews will also be essential material for a book entitled ‘First Night of Freedom’ which I propose to do.

With Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 85th birthday in October 2016, we have an opportunity to revisit the significance of Nelson Mandela’s First Night of Freedom which he chose to spend with Tutu.

Desmond Tutu has given me permission to develop this idea and has agreed to co-operate.

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Five Minutes of Heaven

Five Minutes of Heaven

(BBC/Element Films/Bord Scannán na hÉirean) 2009

Five Minutes of Heaven  is the third of the trilogy of international award-winning movies which Mullan played influential roles in producing about the beginning (Bloody Sunday 1972), end (Omagh 1998), and aftermath of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ (Five Minutes of Heaven, 2009). The latter explores the complex issues associated with reconciliation and forgiveness in a post-conflict society.

The screenwriter of Omagh, Guy Hibbert, recommended that the makers of Five Minutes of Heaven engage the services of Don Mullan. Mullan was Associate Producer, playing a key role in securing the cooperation, and retaining the confidence, of Joe Griffin, played by James Nesbitt in the movie. Griffin, as a 10-year-old boy witnessed the murder of his 19-year-old brother, Jim, at the hands of 17-year-old loyalist, Alistair Little in 1975. Little, played by Liam Neeson, also co-operated in the making of the movie.

Mullan clashed with director Oliver Hirschbiegel at the conclusion of the filmmaking process, objecting strongly to the director’s ending. Despite the fact that Mullan had been invited to view a ‘locked’ version of the movie at Ardmore Studios, Co. Wicklow, his intervention forced a change of emphasis before the movie was released. Mullan, in a letter written to the movie’s Producers and Executive Producers, argued that Hierschbiegel’s ending would be a betrayal of the trust that Joe Griffin and Alastair Little had invested in the filmmakers, as well as a skewed understanding of the nature of reconciliation in a post-conflict society. The German director’s ending suggested that the victim was, in this instance, liberated by the perpetrator, a conclusion that Mullan knew neither Little nor Griffin would ascribe to.

While Alastair Little was prepared to meet Joe Griffin during the process of making the movie, Joe Griffin found himself unable to meet his brother’s killer. Referring to the psychological damage the murder did to his mother, who later blamed her young son for not stopping Little, Griffin told Mullan, “I can forgive Alastair for what he did to Jim. But I can’t forgive him for what he did to my mother and what my mother did to me.”

Five Minutes of Heaven premiered at the 25th Sundance Film Festival, winning the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award and the World Cinema Screenwriting Award.

Official Trailer

Five Minutes of Heaven – Insider Briefing

Five Minutes of Heaven on IMDb

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2009 – A Thousand Reasons for Living

2009 – A Thousand Reasons for Living

Fire over Dublin
Sunrise from my attic window, Dublin, Ireland
27 November 2007
Nokia N95
“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”
– Bern Williams
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Hope Initiatives International

Hope Initiatives International

Hope Initiatives International Logo

Hope Initiatives International (HII) is the brand name under which Don Mullan has chosen to develop a series of projects over the next decade. They are:

Africa’s Great Green Wall and The ‘Laudato Tree’ Project

WWI Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project

WWI Mercy – Trócaire Monument Project

Toussaint Louverture and Hope for Haiti Project

Ireland – USA: Race Amity Project

The name was chosen because it evokes the transformative power of hope in achieving lasting and empowering change.

Logo

 

July 2013. Bogside Artists Mural, Rossville Street, Derry

The logo of Hope Initiatives International (printed in United Nations blue), depicts a dove soaring skywards from within an oak leaf. The oak leaf is the symbol of Mullan’s native Derry, Ireland, and the dove represents his lifelong commitment to the cause of Peace, Justice, Human and Environmental Rights.

Mullan first saw the symbol as a wall mural in Derry’s Bogside, painted by the world famous Bogside Artists and immediately sought permission to use it. The mural reminded him of a Matisse drawing with its continuity and fluidity. It’s power is in its simplicity.

Mullan was particularly moved by the mural as it overlooked an area that was occupied by the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972, and from where they killed and wounded several of the Bloody Sunday victims.

Bloody Sunday 1972. Paratroopers by the gable wall which, today, has the mural that inspired the HII logo.

The symbol was created by a local teacher, Fr. Neil McCarron, who taught at St. Columb’s College, a local school which produced two Nobel Laureates of Peace and Literature: John Hume and Seamus Heaney.

Mullan has been granted permission to use the logo from St. Columb’s College who pointed out that the logo is also used locally by the Derry Diocesan Directory, and it is embedded in marble on the floor of the Diocesan Office at St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry.

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Student Years and Early Work Experience

Student Years and Early Work Experience

Youth & Community Work Student

Don Mullan (24) is welcomed by an Indian family, Fathima Nagar, Tamil Nadu, India, 1977

While studying Youth and Community Work at the University of Ulster (formally the Ulster Polytechnic) between 1977-79, Mullan spent his 1979 summer holiday’s in India, where he visited Mumbai (formally Bombay), Bangalore, Thiruchirapalli, and the Holy Family Hansenorium at Fathima Nagar, Tamil Nadu, in the deep south of the Indian subcontinent.

There he met a young doctor, Dr. Jacob, who invited Mullan to observe and photograph a series of operations he was conducting on various patients.

What impressed Mullan most was that Dr. Jacob could have chosen a lucrative position in a Western hospital, yet he chose to remain in India where he literally performed miracles is helping young leprosy suffers regain the use of their limbs, especially their fingers and hands.

Before Mullan left the Hansenorium, a young married couple who had met at the hospital, and who had been cured by Dr. Jacob, presented Don with a painting which the husband had painted. It depicted a deer standing by a brook in a tranquil valley. Across the painting, in Tamil, were the words from Psalm 23: 2-3: “Near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit.” Mullan retains and cherishes the gift to this day.

While in India Mullan purchased a copy of the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, “The Story of My Experiments

Gandhi: “My Life is My Message”

with Truth”. Mullan was deeply moved by Gandhi’s fortitude and commitment to non-violent change, particularly his emphasis on active non-violence over pacifism.

In 1999, on a return visit to India to interview His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Dharmsala, Mullan, before returning home, visited the site of Gandhi’s assassination on 30 January 1948. Mullan was particularly taken by Gandhi’s saying: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

By coincidence, Mullan was in India when the IRA killed Lord Louis Mountbatten on 27 August 1979. He was deeply moved by the outpouring of grief and sadness  with which the Indian people greeted the news. As Britain’s last Viceroy to India, who had overseen India’s Independence, it was clear from newspaper coverage and his conversations with Indian people that Louis Mountbatten was remembered with deep affection and respect.

Parkmore Youth Club, Ormeau Road, Belfast

Joseph Bratty

While studying Youth & Community Work at the Ulster Polytechnic Mullan was required to work at a youth club in Belfast. As a Catholic, he was assigned to a Catholic youth club in the sectarian divided city. Mullan, however, asked to be placed in a Loyalist youth club, as he wished to cross the divide and encounter the common humanity of youth from ‘the other side’. There was considerable risk associated with this decision as the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ were still at their height, and a

Scene of Sean Graham’s Bookmakers Massacre, February 1992

Catholic youth worker had been assassinated the year before, less than a mile from his preferred Youth Club, on Belfast’s Ormeau Road. One of his assignments was an essay on a group of students he worked with. Amongst these was a youth named Joseph Bratty, who was latter assassinated by the Provisional IRA just weeks before the 1994 IRA ceasefire, in retaliation for his involvement in the murder of Catholics living in the vicinity of Lower Ormeau Road. Bratty was suspected by security forces of playing a role in, or at least orchestrating, around 15 killings, including the Sean Graham’s Bookmakers Massacre, in February 1992.

Following a presentation at Bologna University, Italy, Mullan was asked to contribute his 1978 essay to their media archives, detailing his experience, which can be accessed by clicking here. In 2015 Mullan was contacted by one of the youth mentioned in the essay, ‘Sammy’, who had found the essay on-line, and both he and Mullan have rekindled their friendship.

Early Work Experience:

Don Mullan began his working life, aged 19, as a successful insurance salesman for Canada Life. However, he quietly resigned his position on ethical grounds. He also worked as a night porter at the Everglades Hotel, Derry, and as a clerical officer at Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry, responsible for coordinating hospital maintenance, before resuming full-time studies at the Ulster Polytechnic (University of Ulster) Jordanstown, in 1977.

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Associated Press (2010)

Associated Press (2010)

Don Mullan, a human rights activist… brims with ideas, big ones, about combating hunger and poverty and injustice — and about the power of history and symbolism to do so. And he gets things done. He counts Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sister Helen Prejean and Pelé as friends… “Don has this genius for how the lessons of the past can be used to achieve real change in the present.”

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AFrI Years and Legacy: 1979 – 1994

AFrI Years and Legacy: 1979 – 1994

Fr. Sean McFerran SDB, founder of AFrI (Action From Ireland) who recruited Mullan as the agency’s first full-time Director

Don Mullan was Director of AFrI (Action from Ireland) for 14 years (1979-1994), a responsibility he assumed at the age of 24. He spearheaded the transformation of the organisation from an ‘aid’ agency into a dynamic justice, peace and human rights organisation. It was here his skills as a concept developer, including re-imagining symbolism, began to find expression.

Fr James O’Halloran SDB

AFrI was founded by Fr Sean McFerran, SDB, in 1975. While studying at the Development Studies Centre, Dublin, Mullan met Fr James O’Halloran SDB, a confrere of the founder. Fr. Jim, as he is affectionately known, spent most of his life working as a missionary in South America during which he became interested in the phenomena of Basic Christian Communities. He is the author of a series of acclaimed books which have been translated into several languages. In later life Fr. Jim became a much sought after lecturer on the subject, travelling extensively in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe to speak on Basic Christian Communities. An insight into Fr. Jim’s rich life, dedicated to the gospel of the poor, and his global contribution to the development of such communities, may be accessed by clicking here. 

Fr. O’Halloran recommended Don to Fr Sean McFerran and following a number of meetings McFerran offered Don the role of Director, adding that his main reservation was Don’s age, but nonetheless, decided to hand the reigns to him.

Joe Murray

Mullan invited Joe Murray to join the AFrI Executive Committee and later brought him on board as his assistant. After Mullan left AFrI in 1994 to take up a position with Concern Worldwide, Murray assumed responsibility for the organization. He remains in that position today and continues to develop and manage many of the legacy projects and concepts that Mullan introduced.

A number of Don Mullan’s AFrI initiatives can be accessed by clicking the following links:

1982: International Conference on World Peace and Poverty

1983: St Brigid’s Peace Cross Campaign

1983-84: Olinda-Recife, Brazil: Dom Helder Camara

1984-87: The Dunne Stores Strike

1984: Fr Niall O’Brien and the Negros Nine Campaign

1984: Wedding Day – AFrI HQ burned down

1985-87: Fr Rudy Romano and the movie ‘Missing’

1986: ‘Just a Second’ Campaign

1987-1994: The Great ‘Famine’ Project:

1988: The Annual Doolough Famine Walk

1989: The Choctaw-Ireland Great Famine Connection

1990: Famine Graves and Markers

1992: 500th anniversary of the ‘discovery’ of America by Christopher Columbus

1992: Tom Hyland and East Timor

1993: White Paper presented to Irish Government

1993-1994: The Grosse Ile Campaign

1993: Don Mullan discovered he is dyslexic

1994: Inauguration of President Nelson Mandela

1994-1996: Concern Worldwide

1995: The Carrigaholt Collection

1996: Concern Universal – Children in Crossfire

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eyewitness Bloody Sunday – The Truth

Eyewitness Bloody Sunday – The Truth

“There were several notable television documentaries, mainly from British channels, and some influential books and newspaper articles. Parfticularly important was the publication of Don Mullan’s book, Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, in 1997. This was a collection of eyewitness contemporaneous accounts of the events of Bloody Sunday that had been gathered by NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association) and lain unnoticed for twenty-five years…”

– Bishop Edward Daly, ‘A Troubled See’

Eyewitness Bloody Sunday – The Truth  (Wolfhound Press, Dublin 1997; Robert Rinehard Publishers, USA 1997; Merlin Publishing, 3rd edition, 2002) was Mullan’s first investigative book which became a bestseller in Ireland and has been described as ‘politically influential’. It is officially credited as a major catalyst in the establishment of the longest running and most expensive public inquiry in British legal history – The Bloody Sunday (Saville) Inquiry. Don Mullan was a schoolboy witness to the tragic events of Bloody Sunday and vividly recalls the shooting dead of Michael Kelly.

Eyewitness Bloody Sunday was based on 100 of 700 eyewitness accounts of the Bloody Sunday massacre, including his own. The book was produced in collaboration with the Bloody Sunday families and wounded and the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign. Mullan has always stated that his work built on the work of others before him and that the main credit for the historic achievements of the Campaign was the Bloody Sunday families and wounded.

The book created a sensation when Don Mullan offered a plausible hypothesis that three of the Bloody Sunday dead were shot by a British Army sniper firing from the vicinity of the Derry Walls. A strong supporter of his hypothesis was Dr Raymond McClean, a local GP and former SDLP Mayor of Derry who initially set out to disprove Mullan’s theory but eventually concurred. Dr McClean had attended a number of post-mortems of the Bloody Sunday dead and had noted that the three whom Don Mullan suspected had been shot by a sniper, had almost identical 45% downward trajectory wounds.

After careful investigation, Mullan’s theory was seized upon by Britain’s Channel Four News who produced their first of a series of Bloody Sunday specials based on his hypothesis. The book was headlined in The New York Time World News section on the 30 January 1997, the 25th anniversary of the massacre, which recorded: “The atmosphere has been roiled in recent days by the province-wide debate on the new book [by] Mr. Mullan…”.

Don Mullan and Dr Raymond McClean later authored ‘Bloody Sunday: The Breglio Report’ (Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign 1997), based on an independent investigation carried out by a US based ballistics expert, Robert J. Breglio. Mullan had been directed to Breglio by his friend, Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY). Breglio made it clear from the outset that “I will call it as I see it.” Bluntly asserting his independence which is exactly what Mullan and Dr McClean wanted. Robert J. Breglio concluded that Michael McDaid, John Young and William Nash had been shot from the vicinity of the Derry Walls

Prior to the publication of Mullan’s book, Bloody Sunday was seen by the Irish establishment as having been hijacked by Sinn Fein and violent Republicanism and was, therefore, kept at arm length. However, Mullan’s humanitarian and human rights background created a space for the Irish Government to engage.

Mullan was contacted by officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of An Taoiseach shortly after the publication of his book in January 1997 and for two years, in the lead-up to the new Bloody Sunday Inquiry, he was the conduit between the Irish Government and the Bloody Sunday families and wounded. During that period he played a key role in organising a number of visits to Dublin, Belfast and London, to meet British Secretary’s of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew and Mo Mowlan; Irish President Mary Robinson; and the first meeting ever between an Irish Taoiseach and the Bloody Sunday families and wounded.

A major outcome of the meeting with An Taoiseach John Bruton was the announcement that he would instruct Civil Servants to critically evaluate all of the new evidence coming forward, including Mullan’s theory of three victims having been shot from the vicinity of the Derry walls.

Mullan was entrusted by the Irish Government to read the penultimate draft of its dossier ‘Bloody Sunday and the Report of the Widgery Tribunal – The Irish Government’s Assessment of the New Material’. For two days in June 1997, he was given a room within the Department of Foreign Affairs and given privileged access to the highly sensitive dossier. His comments and observations were incorporated into the final draft which was presented to the new Labour Government of Prime Minister Tony Blair MP, in June 1997. The impact of Irish Government’s Report increased momentum towards persuading the British Government to establish a new Inquiry.

On the 30th January 1998, the 26th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, little more than a year after the publication of Eyewitness Bloody Sunday, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, announced the setting up of a new Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

On 3 April 1998, the new Bloody Sunday Inquiry opened at the Guildhall in Derry. It became the longest running and most expensive Public Inquiry in British Legal History.

What was, in fact, the 2nd Bloody Sunday Inquiry, published its report on 15 June 2010. It concluded that all of the dead and wounded were innocent. A statement read on behalf of the Families and wounded declared: “The victims have been vindicated. The Parachute Regiment has been disgraced. The truth has been brought home at last. Widger’s great lie has been laid bare.”

The most remarkable and unexpected outcome was the statement made by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who, in accepting the findings of the Saville Report, described the brutal events of Bloody Sunday as ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’ before making an historic apology on behalf of the British Government. It was a moment of healing in the festering wound of British Colonialism in Ireland.

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Actor Gabriel Byrne

Actor Gabriel Byrne

Don Mullan’s work, as an investigative journalist and humanitarian, stands in its own way as a guiding light and inspiration for those who would aspire to a better world.

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The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings – The Truth, The Questions and the Victim’s Stories

The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings – The Truth, The Questions and the Victim’s Stories

“This book is a major work of investigative journalism, which contributed significantly to the creation of the Barron and MacEntee inquiries into the bombings. The Barron Report in particular vindicated much of Mullan’s analysis, although the truth about the full extent of collusion in the attacks remains elusive.”
– Conclusion of book review by journalist Tom Griffin

The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings is Don Mullan’s 2nd major best-selling investigative book.

Following the impact of ‘Eyewitness Bloody Sunday’, Irish Artist, Robert Ballagh, suggested to Don Mullan that he consider doing a book on the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, which remain the biggest unsolved mass murder case in the history of the Irish Republic. Ballagh had previously invited Mullan to collaborate with him on an illustrated history of Ireland for the Club House, Druids Glen, Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow, which Mullan wrote and called, ‘IRELAND: 5000 years in 20 minutes’.

After some consideration, Mullan launched himself into two years of research, including a determination to tell the story of each of the 33 people who had been murdered across the Irish capital and the border town of Monaghan on 17 May 1974.

Mullan was particularly impressed by Angela and Denise O’Neill who lost their father, Edward, and whose two younger brothers, Edward and Billy, were seriously wounded in the first of the three bombs, which exploded on Parnell Street.

The two sisters founded the organisation Justice for the Forgotten in 1996 with the active support of their mother, Martha, who was pregnant at the time of the attack and whose baby daughter, Martha, was stillborn three months later. At their invitation, and that of veteran campaigner, Nora Comiskey, Mullan joined the Justice for the Forgotten Campaign.

Mullan’s involvement provided impetus to the Justice for the Forgotten Campaign and he played a key role in achieving the first ever meeting of the victims with an Irish Taoiseach. On 22 April 1999 he accompanied some 40 relatives of the deceased, and wounded, to a meeting at Government Buildings to meet with the newly elected Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, whom Mullan had worked closely with in the lead up to the 2nd Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

At the meeting, Mr Ahern asked the Campaign to work with his officials to explore a way forward. After several meetings with Government officials, and the Irish Attorney General, Michael McDowell, the campaign eventually agreed to cooperate with an Independent Commission of Inquiry, robustly rejecting the offer of a Private Inquiry.

Mullan’s book: ‘The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings – The Truth, The Stories and the Questions’was another bestseller and was reviewed on RTE One’s ‘The View’ whose panel agreed Mullan had made a compelling case for a Public Inquiry.

There were three primary elements to Mullan’s Book:

  1. It sensitively recounted the stories of all of the murdered and many of the wounded, including Italian restaurant owner, Antonio Magliocco (37); and Simone Chetrit (30) a French Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who had been born in 1944 to a mother hidden by Catholic nuns during the Nazi occupation of Paris.
  2. It raised serious questions about the forensic handling of the bomb debris and the failure of An Garda Siochana to establish a chain of custody for the debris which disappeared three weeks after the explosions;
  3. With the support of Congressman Joe Crowley, Mullan met at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Ed Komac, a former US Military Ordinance expert who, on examining material Mullan brought to him, concluded that the synchronicity and efficiency of all three explosions in Dublin pointed to a military operation beyond the capabilities of Loyalist paramilitaries at the time.

Komac’s conclusion added weight to the long standing suspicion that while Loyalist paramilitaries delivered the bombs to Dublin, the bombs had been assembled with the collusion of British Military personnel.

The back cover of ‘The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings’ carries the following quotation from Mullan:

‘The suspected involvement of British military intelligence in assisting Loyalist paramilitaries to place no-warning bombs, dwarfs Bloody Sunday in its implication.’

After the resignation of key members of the Justice for the Forgotten Campaign, including the founders, Denise and Angela O’Neill, removed from the Executive Committee by a secret ballot, Mullan also resigned. The O’Neill family and other key families asked Mullan to introduce them to Derry solicitor, Desmond J. Doherty, who was instructing Michael Mansfield QC in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the Omagh Bombing Inquests. Doherty continues to represent those families.

Eventually retired High Court Judge, Mr Justice Henry Barron, conducted an investigation into the bombings which Mullan assisted. However, there was confusion and shock when Barron stated in the introduction of his Report that he had been asked to conduct a ‘Private Inquiry’.

On 19 January 2004 Mullan submitted to an Oireachtas sub-committee, set up to examine the Barron Report, a detailed 24 page document entitled “A Trust Betrayed – Again? – Submission to the Sub-Committee on the Barron Report”. He declined an invitation by the Oireachtas Committee to appear before it on the basis that it did not have the powers of compellability which only a properly constituted Public Inquiry would have.

Mullan concluded his submissions as follows:

“Without wasting any further time or public expense… the Oireachtas Committee should simply recognise there is only one fair and just outcome. Recommend a Public Tribunal of Inquiry immediately and use whatever influence they have to ensure the Government accedes to their recommendation.”

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, 2014, Don Mullan was interviewed by RTE journalist, Miriam O’Callaghan, on her popular Sunday morning show, ‘Sunday with Miriam”.

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1983: St. Brigid’s Peace Cross Campaign

1983: St. Brigid’s Peace Cross Campaign

St. Brigid’s Cross

Inspired by the generosity of five young boys from his hometown neighbourhood, who made and sold St. Brigid’s Crosses to support his work with AFrI, Mullan developed with them the St. Brigid’s Peace Cross Campaign. The five boys were brothers Eddie and James Doherty, Peter and Maurice McGowan and their friend Neil Mahony. The Nobel and Lenin Peace Prize winner, Sean MacBride SC, travelled to Derry to launch the initiative in 1993.

With Sean McBride SC – sitting: Neil Mahony; standing; James Doherty, Maurice and Peter McGowan, Eddie Doherty

Taking the ancient tradition of making St. Brigid’s Crosses on 1 February, the first day of Spring in Ireland, Mullan helped AFrI reinterpret much of its ancient symbolism in a 20th Century context. Of primary interest was the discovery of the story of Brigid giving away her father’s sword to a poor man. Mullan saw in this story a Celtic parable of disarmament and development.

His research also lead him to the site of St. Brigid’s Fire Temple in Kildare Town, which had burned perpetually for over 2000 years before it was extinguished during the Reformation. Only women could be keepers of the fire. Mullan became determined to help rekindle the ancient flame.

The St. Brigid’s Peace Cross Campaign became the seed of several other ongoing initiatives, including the rekindling of

Sr Mary Teresa Cullen rekindles Brigid’s Fire in 1993

Brigid’s Fire and the annual Feile Bride Festival, Kildare (1993), and greater involvement by the Brigidine Sisters in Justice and Peace initiatives, including the establishment of Solas Bhride Centre and Hermitages. Mullan developed a strong relationship with the Irish Brigidine Sisters and invited Sr. Eileen Deegan onto the AFrI Executive Committee, a role she fulfilled for several years.

Working with Mullan, Youghal Carpets, Cork, designed a hand-woven carpet depicting St. Brigid giving away her father’s sword to the mendicant. Two carpets, containing over 100,000 individual woolen pieces, were made by Irish school children and presented to the peoples of the USA and the former USSR.

 

 

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