I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Proof or Imagination?

Frank MacGabhann
Roger Casement: The Black Diaries – with a study of his background, sexuality, and Irish political life, by Jeffrey Dudgeon, Belfast Press, 728 pp, ISBN: 978-0953928736 Roger Casement was the sixteenth and last Irishman executed by the British following the Easter Rising in 1916. Casement’s reputation as a humanitarian and as a critic of imperialism has been overshadowed since the British government, concerned over the effects of an international campaign for clemency as he awaited execution, showed versions of what they claimed was his diary to journalists. These Black Diaries, which contained a record of predatory homosexual activity, were finally produced and made available for examination in 1959. Many believe that the Black Diaries are forgeries. Many, including Jeffrey Dudgeon, do not. Dudgeon states at the beginning of his book: “Of course the diaries are genuine and authentic.” He does not, however, offer much in the way of proof apart from reliance on questionable handwriting analysis. My own view is that the authenticity question could have been settled when the diaries were first revealed through the use of readily available fingerprinting technology. Addressing this question previously I wrote: Fingerprinting in criminal trials in England began in 1902. By 1916 it was well established there. In fact, fingerprinting in 1916 was the DNA of its day. Why did Basil Thompson and Reginald Hall, spymasters that they were, not test the Black Diaries for Casement’s fingerprints? If they had found Casement’s prints on the Black Diaries, it would have been game, set and match for them. The clear inference to be drawn from this failure (and what any defence lawyer would be delighted to put to a jury) is that they knew that Casement’s fingerprints would not be on the Black Diaries – for the simple reason that they were forgeries – their own forgeries. The unbiased reader might feel, as this reader did, that Dudgeon allows too much scope to his imagination. The entry for October 22nd, 1903 in the Black Diaries has Casement writing, after dinner, “I left at 11. Straight home.” Dudgeon comments “that going straight home was worthy of comment indicates a cruise around Loanda before turning in was Casement’s norm.” Really? Maybe he just said he went straight home the way another person might say they went straight to bed. In the chapter entitled “Millar Gordon”, Dudgeon contends that Casement had a “boy friend”, Millar Gordon, who…



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