The stories of prominent modern historic events can be frustratingly distorted. Sure, the sensational news of the event gets reported, but the critical behind-the-scenes early information is too often not portrayed by presenters. Movies and even some documentaries, as well intentioned as researchers and writers may be, simply have to rely on a lot of biased and one-sided information.
My grandfather, his friends and neighbors talked about the genocide and injustice they faced in Ireland and even when they came to the United States, things that were hardly ever mentioned in our schools or statehouses. The same could be said of immigrant Italians, Pols, Lithuanians, Jews and other maligned ethnic minorities.
Unfortunately, we haven’t done a good job explaining the real stories over the years. It’s only recently that our own government has told us about the Armenian or Rwandan genocide and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. But one soon-to-be-released movie, “In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America” about The Troubles in Northern Ireland, will be of interest to many of us who have been passionate about peace and justice there.
Among the many opponents of British oppression of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland over the years who stood with Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume and other Irish heroes are Irish-American peace champions like Boston attorney John Macklin, Red Murphy, Jim Cook, John Curran, the Rev. Walter Martin, Jim Hayes of the South End, Johnny Hurley of Charlestown, Mike Flannelly and especially Paul O’Dwyer of New York City. These dedicated Irish-Americans haven’t received the recognition they deserve.
They were courageously speaking out, demonstrating, attending Easter Sunday Mass at St. James in Chinatown and getting involved before it was politically popular in the United States. Yes, we had our share of early political heroes and supporters like Tip O’Neil, Bill Bulger, Jewish-American congressman Henry Waxman and Italian-American congressman Mario Biaggi — early champions for justice for the people in Northern Ireland.
I hope they are given the credit they deserve. I have learned over the years, there are always unsung heroes who never get the credit from current media or academia. But I’m hopeful this movie will finally tell the true story about the courage of the Catholic people in Northern Ireland, Boston and New York City.
Raymond L. Flynn is a former mayor of Boston and former U.S….