Ryan slandered

September 14, 2011

Frank Ryan and John Robinson. Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives ALBA Photo 011, 11-0759

Manus O’Riordan, Ireland Secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, alerts us to the resuscitation of charges in relation to Irish IBer Fran Ryan that have already been refuted.

On 11 September 2011, the Irish edition of News International’s Sunday Times carried the following report by  Lorraine Wemyss:

The campus of Queen’s University Belfast was festooned with Nazi insignias last week, when it was recreated as wartime Berlin for filming of a docudrama. Queen’s is one of the locations being used in the making of The Enigma of Frank Ryan, which will chart the career of the Irish republican who fought in the Spanish Civil War, was sentenced to death by Franco, and died in Germany in 1944. The documentary is being produced by Professor Des Bell whose Queen’s colleague, Fearghal McGarry, is the historical consultant. Bell said: “With the right attention to design and period detail, Belfast with its fine mix of 1940s buildings in neo-classical style can create a believable picture of Berlin of the time.”

McGarry said Ryan is a fascinating subject for a documentary because he remains a divisive figure. “On the one hand, he is widely admired by Irish republicans because he led the Irish contingent of the International Brigade in the fight against fascism in Spain. On the other, after his release from jail he ended his days as an adviser to German intelligence in wartime Germany.” “Ryan’s supporters argue that the IRA’s alliance with Nazi Germany was purely tactical, and that he remains one of the greatest heroes of the Irish socialist republican tradition,” said McGarry.

Bell said: “What we are really trying to do is to present to the audience the kind of enigma that Frank Ryan was (both editions) — how he started out on the left and ended up working for fascism.” (1st ed. only) Filming will take place in Spain, France and Germany and the documentary is intended to be released in time for next spring’s festivals. Among the actors taking part are Dara Devaney, Barry Barnes, Arthur Riordan and Mia Gallagher.

The project received funding from TG4, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Irish Language Broadcasting Fund of NI Screen and will be shot in Irish and English.

Manus adds: See herehere, and here for my detailed refutations of Fearghal Mc Garry’s “Collaborator” charge in his book Frank Ryan (2002).