Official histories and public histories

Official histories are an important part of any national discourse

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – Further to “Official histories and public histories” (Letters, May 11th), what exactly are opponents of the proposed official history of the Troubles history proposing? Institutional silence? Official histories are an important part of any national discourse. Consider, for example, Ronan Fanning’s extremely valuable history of the Department of Finance which was commissioned by minister for finance George Colley and supported throughout by the secretary to the Department of Finance, CH Murray. Before accepting the commission, Dr Fanning was required to sign a declaration under the Official Secrets Act. Rather than being some kind of whitewash, what resulted was a fine history of the Department of Finance which has stood the test of time.

Consider also the British government’s official history of the first World War. While historians continue to debate the merits and accuracy of the that record of the war, there is no question that the British government’s official history is an extremely important historical source.

The proposed official history of the Troubles will be written by extremely well qualified and methodical historians. Why not hear what they have to say rather than immediately reaching for the mute button? – Yours, etc,

PETER MALONE,

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Clifden,

Co Galway

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