Irish fiction speaks truth

Les Reid's letter criticising Ronan Bennett (29 January) is littered with historical inaccuracies. First, Sinn Fein has always insisted that it has no argument with Protestants in the north of Ireland, but wants to see the British leave. This line has been consistent from the days of Michael Collins - the era when Rebel Heart is set - to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness today. What's more, it is a line stretching back to the United Irishmen movement, which included many Protestants.

Second, the criticism of Bennett's treatment of northern Protestants does not stand up to scrutiny. If anything, Bennett has understated much of what was going on in this period. What, for example, of the brutality of the Black and Tans?

It is a sad indictment of the media coverage of events in Northern Ireland over the past 30 years that it has fallen to the field of drama and films such as Michael Collins, Some Mother's Son and now Rebel Heart to offer a glimpse of history to a public that has been largely hoodwinked.

Paul Donovan
London E11

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Laughing all the way to No 10?