Paul Hyde’s controversial book
A book about Roger Casement, executed for treason by the British authorities in 1916, was initially taken out of circulation after warnings to the publisher.
The dispute indicated the continuing force of debate over Casement, a human rights hero and Irish patriot.
Anatomy of a Lie by Paul Hyde was published in April 2019. The official launch was due to take place at the Roger Casement Summer School, held in Dun Laoghaire, at the end of September. However the launch was cancelled at the last moment after the publishers, Wordwell, received objections from another Casement expert, William McCormack.
Hyde says his interest in Casement’s story was aroused some five years ago when he started to research the controversy over the Black Diaries. These are attributed to Casement and recount his work to expose brutal treatment of natives in the Belgian Congo and in South America. The police typescripts first shown in 1916 also contain many references to homosexual behaviour, and the scandal destroyed the possibility of a reprieve for the condemned man.
But the authenticity of the Black Diaries has long been questioned.
In 2002, William McCormack, then professor of literature at Goldsmiths College London, commissioned document expert Audrey Giles to examine the Diaries, and her opinion was that they were genuine. Hyde’s book, as the title indicates, takes an opposing view.
Casement remains an emotive figure. A statue of him by Mark Richards will grace the pier at the new shorefront development on the site of the old Dun Laoghaire baths. It’s expected the statue will be unveiled in spring 2021.
But a previous statue, sculpted by Oisín Kelly in the late 1960s, was considered too politically insensitive to have either at Glasnevin or anywhere frequented by British visitors, according to Dr Angus Mitchell of the University of Limerick. Mitchell, a distinguished Casement scholar, says the previous statue languished in a basement for years until a businessman from Ballyheigue, Co Kerry, suggested it be moved to that location, close to Banna Strand. Local TD Dick Spring unveiled the statue there in 1984.