Sir, - It was with utter shock and disbelief that I read the recent article by Eoin Neeson on the verification of the Black Diaries of Roger Casement.

The diaries, which contained descriptions of Casement's homosexual activities, had been disputed for years by those who claimed they were forgeries made by the British in an attempt to assassinate Casement's character.

Now that the diaries had been conclusively verified I expected that the issue would be put to rest and that Casement would be celebrated as a national hero who happened to be gay. However, Mr Neeson was unwilling to accept this view. Describing Casement's homosexuality as a "sexual perversion", he then went on to say that nevertheless he can still be celebrated. The inference was that Casement's homosexuality was shameful and should be brushed under the carpet.

Neeson even went as far as to say that he feared that "Casement would be portrayed as some kind of homosexual icon rather than the great man he was", as if to say that his homosexuality somehow degrades him or that a homosexual icon cannot be a great man at the same time.

The fact is that Casement was gay and that is no blight on his character; it is another side to him which we must appreciate if we are to understand the man. Casement deserves to be celebrated as a national hero and a champion of human rights. If people wish to celebrate him as an icon of what gay people can achieve, well than all power to them.

The overriding tone of Mr Neeson's article was one of contempt for gay people and the gay community in Ireland. Such views are completely unacceptable. The article was extremely insulting and insensitive and I was shocked that such a grotesque display of bigotry was published in this newspaper. - Is mise,



Dublin 4.