Maamtrasna and a presidential pardon


Sir, – TG4 is to be congratulated for the most interesting and captivating programme Murdair Mhám Trasna, screened on April 4th.

The programme depicted the circumstances of the infamous murder of a family in the village of Maamtrasna in 1882, the circumstances of the subsequent trial, and the clearly wrongful “conviction” and subsequent hanging of Maolra Seoighe – Myles Joyce – for the crime. The programme concluded with the account of the recent presidential pardon extended by President Michael D Higgins, following the advice of the Government through the Minister for Justice Charlie Flannagan (“President signs pardon for man hanged for Maamtrasna murders”, News, April 4th).

It is always heartening to see a wrong “righted”, no matter how late. But it does raise an interesting question. Is it the responsibility or duty of our President to extend a pardon to anyone wrongfully convicted of a crime, committed before Irish independence? There must be many occasions where an apology is due for actions of the State since 1922, but surely before that, any apology or pardon is a matter for the British crown. Indeed on her visit to Ireland in 2011, Queen Elizabeth expressed regret for many occurrences in the relationship between Britain and Ireland, which, as she put it, “might have been done differently or not at all”.

If we are to express our regrets for events prior to 1922, where does it start or end? The Norman Invasion, the Penal Laws, the Act of Union, or even, some may say, the Famine? – Yours, etc,



Co Laois.

Sir,– The granting of the presidential pardon to Myles Joyce must now give rise to the question of compensation. Whether to sue the crown or the Irish state, coupled with the fact that the event occurred in 1882, could prove a little problematic but is not beyond the wit of some enterprising lawyer. Where there’s a fee, there’s a way. – Yours, etc,