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.
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.
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.
The aim is to engage with students in schools, colleagues and universities throughout the world to raise US$2,500 each
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.
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.
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
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.
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!”
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!” 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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”.
“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.
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
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.
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!
The FIFA World Cup Finals are the most-watched sports event in history.
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.
Television coverage of the 2006 games was the most extensive ever.
– 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
In response to a question from Mandela, Tutu recounts the afternoon at Duduza in July 1985when, 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.
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.
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.
“Mullan’s approach to photography is very exciting and revealing a technological and cultural change. For the great activist/humanitarian that he is, it’s a new way to express his commitment. I love that!”
– Agnès Grégoire, Editor-in-Chief, PHOTO Magazine, Paris
Mullan had no training in photography but his interest was awakened one Saturday afternoon when he heard his son Carl and daughter Emma playfully running through their home. When asked what they were doing, he was informed they were taking pictures. Mullan was confused as he could not see a camera.
“With what?” he asked.
“Our mobile phones,” he was informed.
“Your phones?” he queried, confused.
“Yes,” Emma replied, “there is a camera in our mobile phones.”
Reaching for his own cell phone, Mullan asked, “Is there a camera in my phone?”
“Yes, Dad!” his children answered, somewhat incredulous at their father’s ignorance.
Up until that moment, Mullan was only interested in using the phone for making and receiving calls, and for texting. However, he began to experiment with the camera on his phone, a NOKIA 6131, and an idea began to emerge. Throughout 2007 and 2008 he would be travelling to Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe and the Mediterranean on various projects. So, he decided to approach NOKIA with the idea of testing the dexterity of their mobile phones, including their imaging capabilities.
With the support of RTE’s John Murray, Mullan was welcomed to NOKIA (Ireland) by a young executive, Aoife Byrne, NOKIA’s Marketing Manager. Mullan had just turned 50 and in the new corporate world of high flying young executives, he was feeling ‘old’. However, Aoife Byrne was hugely respectful and enthusiastic about his proposal. She championed the idea amongst her colleagues, principle amongst them her line manager, Sian Gray, Head of Marketing, and Alan O’Hara, NOKIA’s General Manager.
In April 2009, NOKIA hired Gallery Number One in Dublin for what they proclaimed as the World’s 1st Photographic Exhibition by an amateur photographer, based entirely on cell phone photography.
The exhibition, entitled, A Thousand Reasons for Living, comprised 60 images which Mullan had captured on the NOKIA N73 (3.2 megapixel) and NOKIA N97 (5 megapixel) taken during Mullan’s travels. Not only was the exhibition a pioneering adventure in its own right, it was also clear that Mullan recognised how this new technology could be used as a campaigning tool.
One of Mullan’s photographs showed an elderly woman signing her autograph. The subject was Millvina Dean, the last remaining survivor of the 1912 Titanic tragedy, who, following an accident in 2005, was forced to spend the remainder of her life in a private nursing home close to her rented accommodation in Southampton.
Despite her advanced age she was forced to sell her personal Titanic memorabilia, and her autograph, to pay for her nursing home bills. Mullan considered this situation to be unjust, especially given the money that had been generated through the billion dollar franchise associated with the James Cameron blockbuster movie ‘Titanic’. In 2007 Mullan had written to James Cameron asking his help in supporting Millvina. He received no response. Consequently, he decided to use the opening of his 2009 exhibition as an opportunity to challenge the stars of ‘Titanic’to match him dollar for dollar with the sales of a framed photograph he had taken, detailing Ms. Dean signing her autograph.
A young journalist, Alison O’Riordan, first published the story in Ireland’s Sunday Independenton 26 April 2009. Two days after the article was published, Mullan received a call from Ken Sunshine of Leonardo Di Caprio’s publicity agency, Sunshine and Sachs, New York. After a 15 minute conversation, Sachs informed Mullan that he would speak with his client. The following day he called Don to say that Mr Di Caprio would donate an initial US$10,000 but assured him he was ‘pushing an open door’ if more funds were required. With that, Kate Winslet also donated US$10,000, followed by Cameron, Celine Dion and Sony.
Sadly, Ms Dean died on 31 May 2009, less than five-weeks after a total of US$50,000 was donated by DiCaprio, Winslet, Cameron, Dion and Sony.
The bulk of the money raised by Mullan’s appeal was used to help fund a Millvina Dean Memorial Garden in Southampton, the city from where Titanic’s maiden voyage began and within which Ms Dean had lived most of her life.In addition to the Titanic story, there were a number of other off-shoots of the Mullan/NOKIA exhibition including what Mullan believes is the first full-colour illustrated book, reproduced from his mobile phone photography.
In addition to the Titanic story, there were a number of other off-shoots of the Mullan/NOKIA exhibition including what Mullan believes is the first full-colour illustrated book, reproduced from his mobile phone photography.
And So This IS Christmas
Mullan was asked by a friend, Irish author John Scally, to assist him in publishing an illustrated children’s book, ‘And So This Is Christmas’, through Mullan’s small publishing house, a little book company. The book had been illustrated by the acclaimed Irish artist, Don Conway. Royalties and profits from the book were being donated to an Irish Hospice.
The manuscript that John Scally produced would have required a highly professional studio to photograph the illustrations, or the removal of the illustrations from the manuscript for the purpose of scanning. Mullan, however, decided against both options. Instead, he decided to photograph the illustrations with his NOKIA N95 (5 megapixel) handset, using weights and the natural light of his back garden conservatory.
Initially his designer and printer were incredulous when he said he would provide the images from his mobile phone. They suggested Don Conroy, the artist, would be furious, as they were expecting images of an inferior nature. However, when they saw the quality of the images they were, quite simply, amazed.
Subject to correction, it is the first illustrated colour book ever produced where the images, including the cover image, where taken by a mobile telephone. The cover image formed part of Mullan’s exhibition, ‘A Thousand Reasons for Living’.
REACTIONS TO THE NOKIA/MULLAN EXHIBITION
The exhibition was featured on national television and newspapers and also by El Pais, Spain. Reactions to the exhibition included the following:
“You can get ideas and inspiration [at the] exhibition… Don had no training. Only the phone. It’s hard to believe that these moments of magic were captured on a mobile.”
– RTE National Television News
“They really are remarkable pictures, un-PhotoShopped, and full of incredible moments.”
– The Sunday Tribune
“Amazing! We must get this exhibition to New York and LA.”
Oscar winning director – Jim Sheridan
“What makes [the] exhibition even more interesting is the fact that photographs are neither enhanced, nor edited. This turns the exhibition into what we would call “The world’s most beautiful camera sample gallery”.
“Due to the demand around the Don Mullan show we will be running it up to WEDNESDAY 28th of April!”
– Gallery Number One
“Several people came into the gallery and began to look at the exhibition. They then approached me and ask, ‘But where is the mobile phone exhibition?’ They were amazed when I told them, ‘You are looking at it!'”
– Jen O’Dwyer, Curator, Gallery Number One
“I’m going to get rid of my expensive camera and buy a mobile phone.”
– Written in gallery comment book
Don Mullan was commissioned to produce two other major mobile phone photographic exhibitions for the 2013 UK City of Culture and the France/South Africa Season in Paris. In addition he produced smaller exhibitions on the theme of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s ‘Le Petit Prince’; for an on-line magazine, ‘About Place Journal’; and as part of a re-imaging project associated with the city of Madison, New Jersey – ‘The Rose City’, which also included a book, based on his concept and photography. He was also invited to exhibit at the prestigious Paris Photo Exhibition, and did so alongside the photography of Yann Arthus-Bertrand; and was featured in the French photographic magazine, Paris PHOTO.
“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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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
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:
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.
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;
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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2013 – France/South Africa Season, Paris: “Images of the Heart”
The power of Mullan’s book lies in his meticulous research, which is of the quality you’d expect from the author of Eyewitness Bloody Sunday… de Róiste’s case would appear to underline something we already know: that the defence of freedom and justice requires eternal vigilance. We’re lucky to have people as vigilant as Don Mullan.
Mullan was first contacted by De Roiste while he was campaigning and researching The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings book. He was a friend of De Roiste’s sister, Adi Roche, whose unsuccessful campaign for President of Ireland he had supported in 1997. It was during that campaign he first learned of Donal De Roiste’s ‘retirement’ from the Irish Army in 1969, as it was used to undermine and damage his sisters presidential bid.
De Roiste sent Mullan a number of letters and enclosed supporting documents in the hope of encouraging Mullan to take up his case. Mullan was initially reluctant as he was dealing with a number of projects in development, including Dublin and Monaghan campaign and the Bloody Sunday movie.
However, one day in 2002, while searching his filing cabinet, he pulled the file on De Roiste he had opened and began to read its contents. He was perturbed and immediately called De Roiste and informed him he was willing to support his campaign.
Over a four year period, Mullan researched the puzzling case, trying to understand why De Roiste had been ‘retired’ by the Irish President. Over that period he invested a full year and a half of his time. His only funding was a £20,000 stg grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.
Mullan could not find a plausible reason to justify the determined speed with which Irish Army top brass moved to have De Roiste ‘retired’. The speed instinctively made him suspicious, especially when he discovered the young Irish Lieutenant had been denied his Constitutional rights to face his accusers and challenge their accusations, through the use of a loophole in the Irish Defence Act.
After more than a year of following leads that took him to dead-ends or cul-de-sacs he recalled a conversation with a Commandant Patrick Walsh, an officer in De Roiste’s graduating class, who retired after a distinguished career which included serving as a UN Peacekeeper. Walshe remained supportive of DeRoiste throughout his career, believing he had suffered a grave injustice.
Commandant Walshe told Mullan he recalled a phone call from De Roiste as a young officer, in 1968. He said De Roiste was distressed because senior officers were pressurising him to lie about a vehicle collision in Tipperary, involving a young female teacher who had been seriously injured. De Roiste was one of three passengers in a vehicle driven by a senior officer whom De Roiste claimed was drunk when his vehicle collided with the young teacher.
Mullan eventually tracked down the young teacher who gave him the legal documents related to the car accident.
Upon careful examination Mullan discovered that just two weeks before De Roiste’s difficulties began in the Army, lawyers representing the young women issued a plenary summons against the senior officer. The proximity of the summons and De Roiste’s expulsion seemed suspect.
Mullan proposed the hypothesis that the rush to expel De Roiste under a cloud of suspicion, invoking a Defence Act loophole, was directly related to the summons served upon the senior officer, Commandant Sean T O’Kelly. The stakes were now raised with the case heading to the High Court. Irish Army top brass knew that De Roiste had already refused to lie internally and, most likely, would not do so under oath. Consequently, O’Kelly, a senior Transport Officer, was facing the probable termination of his career, having already perjured himself in relation to the serious injuries sustained by a civilian due to his intoxication.
On 29 June 2002 the Irish Times ran a two-page article by Don Mullan which rocked the military establishment. On the day of publication Mullan received a phone call from a relative of Commandant O’Kelly who suggested Mullan’s hypothesis had validity due to a meeting and conversations he had been privy to.
Sr. Helen Prejean, author of ‘Dead Man Walking’, who was portrayed in an Oscar winning performance by Susan Sarandon, was in Ireland at the time of publication, and was staying with Mullan and his family. She agreed to attend a press conference to voice her support of De Roiste and his call for the restoration of his good name.
Mullan also secured the support of Irish actor, Gabriel Byrne, who helped launch a USA campaign at the New York Irish Arts Centre.
The controversy created by Mullan’s Irish Times article lead to the then Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, ordering an internal investigation by the Judge Advocate General, Una McCrann SC, on 1 July 2002. McCrann’s report was deeply flawed and was eventually quashed by the High Court after De Roiste’s lawyers challenged its fairness.
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2014 – Galerie Articube, Paris: “HOMAGE Antoine de Saint Exupéry 1944 – 2014”
And it was not as if Mullan was a sentimentalist: this was a tenacious investigative journalist whose working life was intrinsically linked to the events and enquiry into Bloody Sunday in Derry. He was no stranger to fame and his ferocious work as a human rights campaigner took him into the company of global figures like Rosa Parks, Bill Clinton, Mick Jagger, even the Dalai Lama. But with Banks it was different. This was the person to whom Mullan had attached all his childhood ambition and fears growing up as a child in the Creggan, just as the nationalist movement in Derry was about to combust.
Keith Duggan, Irish Times ‘Saving Grace during Troubled Times’
Over dinner at an Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan in 2004, Don Mullan told Irish actor, Gabriel Byrne, about the positive influence the great English goalkeeper, Gordon Banks, had on his growing up in war ravaged Northern Ireland. The story also included Mullan’s fondest memory of his father, who somehow managed to arrange for his teenage son to meet Gordon Banks just six weeks after Banks had pulled off what many consider the greatest save in World Cup history from Brazil’s Pelé during the 1970 Mexico World Cup.
Byrne listened attentively and at the end he the meal he encouraged Mullan to write a book about his experience. “That’s one of the most moving sports stories I have ever heard, Byrne told the Irish author and humanitarian.
And, so, in the lead-up to his 50th birthday, Mullan decided to write a boyhood memoir on how, his hero, the 1966 World Cup winning England goalkeeper, had filled his childhood and adolescence with the magic of dreams.
For the cover of the Irish edition of the book, a photograph of Gordon Banks in full flight was illustrated by the accomplished English sports artist, Alan Damms. “As a child, this picture filled me with awe,” Mullan says. “To me, it portrayed Banks as Superman!”
To Don Mullan, his boyhood memoir is important as it offers a unique insight into the period immediately preceding the outbreak of the Northern Ireland troubles:
“Derry’s Creggan Estate where I was born and grew up, was a peace loving community. Our neighbours were the most decent and caring one might ever wish to live amongst. Yet, in the 1970s many in our community turned to violence. The question is ‘Why?’ Was it because we had a genetic defect that made us prone to violence? Or, because we were violent by nature? Of course not! The root of violence is systemic injustice of which there was plenty in Northern Ireland.
“When I played for my street soccer team, I was the England goalkeeper. I wore a yellow top with three lions, blue shorts and white socks, the same colours worn by Gordon Banks when he played for England. No one ever told me I shouldn’t or that I was betraying Irish nationalism or republicanism or my nation. In fact, adults enjoyed my boyhood enthusiasm for Gordon Banks, a sportsman they too respected for his humility and decency, as well as his mastery of the art of goalkeeping. Indeed, many of the articles and photographs in my famous scrapbook were given to me by adults who knew about my boyish fantasy.”
Mullan’s memoir places the role of sport within the developing crisis, including his own struggle with violence in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday when he seriously considered following his best friend into the IRA. One fascinating insight is of an aggressive raid on his home by the British Army which ended with him holding court before several soldiers in which he had them agreeing that they too would be angry if the shoe was on the other foot and Irish soldiers were doing to them in England what they were doing to in Derry.
Don Mullan, did not follow the path of violence. He sought to achieve systemic change through non-violence.
His memoir was optioned by the BBC in 2006. It was also republished by the British publisher, Legend Press, in 2013, as “The Boy Who Wanted to Fly” with a foreword by Pelé and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The book is currently being translated into Portuguese in Brazil and all royalties will be donated to Hospital Pequeno Principe (The Little Prince Hospital), Brazil’s largest pediatric hospital.
The foreword by Pelé and Tutu may be read by clicking here.
The following two reviews of Mullan’s memoir can be accessed by clicking:
The political and journalist world can boast of very few heroes who compare with Father Damien of Molokai. It is worthwhile to look for the source of such heroism.
– Mahatma Gandhi
The Prophesy of Robert Louis Stevenson – Damien of Molokai – The Leper Saint (a little book company, Dublin, 2009).This book was published to commemorate the canonization of Fr Damien on 11 October 2009 and the fulfillment of Robert Louis Stevenson’s prophesy.
Damien of Molokai, the leper priest, was ‘no saintly philanthropist’ according to a Rev. Hyde in 1889. Damien was, in Hyde’s words, ‘a coarse, dirty, headstrong bigot – not a pure man in his relations with women’, a man whose own leprosy was ‘due to his vices and carelessness’. Damning accusations.
In a powerfully impassioned response, Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and other great books, upholds Fr Damien and accuses his fellow Presbyterian of unjustly maligning a man of virtue and humanity who would one day, he prophesized, be canonized a saint.
Stevenson, in this virtually unknown text, composes a powerful work of evidence-based humanitarianism, about compassion, ecumenism and reconciliation, about human failings and the importance of justice.
The forward, introduction and afterword by Mullan, Burns and Drury highlight the relevance of Stevenson’s text, and the life and witness of Damien, for our times.
In his introduction to this book, Don Mullan writes:
“Children need heroes. My mother understood that. She understood that strong role models can inspire and motivate children to grow into respectful and caring citizens; citizens who try to make the world around them a better place; citizens who recognize that family extends beyond the confines of one’s home and includes the downtrodden and marginalized.
It was at my mother’s knee that I first learned of Fr Damien, the Belgian priest who died from leprosy on the island of Molokai. It was the early 1960s in Derry, Ireland, and I was only seven or eight years old. But the stories she told me of Fr Damien left a lasting impression…”
That impression might be seen in the causes and concerns that Mullan subsequently dedicated his life to.
On Easter Sunday 2001 the relics of St. Therese – a small casket containing a thighbone and foot bone – at the start of an eleven-week pilgrimage. Among those who turned out for the event was Don Mullan, a bestselling Irish author and media producer. Mullan had mixed feelings about the whole affair. Advanced publicity for the relic tour had promised the arrival of an anonymous “she” who would be bigger than U2 and draw larger crowds than Madonna. When the “she” turned out to be the bones of a nineteenth-century saint, Mullan and others wondered if the organisers had lost their minds. They were predicting that a million people might come out to see the reliquary as it made its way across the country.
As it turned out, the reliquary drew nearly three million people. And Mullan, who from childhood had a deep interest in St. Therese, was so impressed that he decided to do a book about those who came to pray before her earthly remains. The tour attracted devotees, of course, but also doubters and cynics, many of whom found themselves nevertheless strangely and profoundly moved. More than one hundred of them submitted their personal accounts and reflections. The resulting book, A Gift of Roses, disoriented Mullan’s previous readers. “I was gaining a reputation of a hard-nosed and impactful investigative journalist. Then I do a respectful book about a box of bones, and some saw me as losing my marbles,” he said.
What struck Mullan was not only the size of the crowds who came to see the relics but also the atmosphere of prayerful reverence. There was no triumphalism about this relic tour, he explained, no “bishop bandwagons” to proclaim victory over secularism – only thousands of people, whether the elderly, middle-aged couples, teenagers or young children, lining up to pay their quiet respect. They would wait for hours, often in pouring rain or cold wind, in order to stand in front of Therese’s reliquary for a few seconds. For many of them, St. Therese was a figure planted in their spiritual memory by their mothers.
From ‘The Vatican Prophecies: Investigating Supernatural Signs, Apparitions, and miracles in the Modern Age’, by John Thavis (New York Times bestselling author of ‘The Vatican Diaries’); Viking, New York, 2015.
In 2011, in advance of the visit to Ireland of the USA’s first African-American President, Barack Obama, Don Mullan re-published the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – an American Slave to mark the historic occasion, in both softback and as a limited edition hardback.
The foreword to this edition was written by the President of Ireland, Her Excellency, Mary McAleese, with an epilogue by the Chief Executive of Concern Worldwide, Tom Arnold.
Mullan’s introduction charts key correspondence between Douglass and the head of the American Abolitionist Movement, William Lloyd Garrison, following his encounter with O’Connell one evening in September 1845.
Mullan demonstrates how Douglass’s thinking was influenced by O’Connell’s address that fateful evening. He argues that the greatest gift Ireland gave to Douglass wasn’t simply welcoming him as an equal human being, but the fact that having arrived as a single issue campaigner, Douglass departed a determined internationalist. For the rest of his life, Douglass fought, not just for the ending of slavery in America, but, like O’Connell and Ireland, for the oppressed worldwide.
Mullan’s 2011 edition of the Douglass Narrative was awarded a 2012 Nautilus Book Awards Silver Medal.
Mullan’s introduction to the edition may be accessed by clicking here.
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