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New school history book derided for inaccuracies and 'airbrushing' past

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The Making History textbook

The Making History textbook

The devastation caused by a bomb in Monaghan

The devastation caused by a bomb in Monaghan

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The Making History textbook

A new history textbook for schools has come under fire for getting its facts wrong.

Published earlier this year, Making History by renowned Irish historian Dermot Lucey is aimed at pupils aged 12-15 studying history in schools across the Republic of Ireland.

In perhaps the most glaring error, the textbook's 'Chronological Awareness' timeline lists that the Downing Street Declaration was signed in 1981 - 12 years before it was actually agreed in 1993.

The joint declaration issued on December 15, 1993 by Prime Minister John Major and Taoiseach Albert Reynolds paved the way for the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

According to the publication, IRA prisoner Bobby Sands lived until 1982, rather than dying on hunger strike on May 5, 1981.

And schoolchildren are being told the McGurk's Bar bombing, in which 15 people were killed on December 4, 1971, happened two years earlier in 1969.

Margaret Burns, publishing director at Gill, said: "We will have those inaccuracies checked out and if there are any issues we will have them corrected as soon as practical."

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She added: "Making History is written in line with the new Junior Cycle specification and includes content which fulfils the learning outcomes that will ultimately be examined."

Asked about the publisher's process for checking school books for inaccuracies and omissions in the absence of any statutory oversight, Ms Burns said the information was commercially sensitive.

"We cannot comment on content that is, or is not, required by the specification, that would be a matter for the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)."

The NCCA, though, said there is no body or agency in the Republic charged with vetting textbooks.

"There is an open market in textbook production," added chief executive John Hammond.

"The NCCA briefs educational publishers a couple of times a year on curriculum developments under way at the time; usually these meetings focus on new or revised specifications that will be available in the following year or two.

"The NCCA advises the Department of Education on curriculum and assessment for early childhood, primary and post-primary schooling. Its statutory brief does not cover either textbook production or vetting."

The publication has already been criticised over 'airbrushing' the single deadliest atrocity in the history of the State - the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 17, 1974 - out of history.

Margaret Urwin, of Justice for the Forgotten, which represents survivors and families of the victims, said it is "absolutely incredible" the book makes no mention of the loyalist no-warning, rush-hour bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, which killed 33 people.

"They don't include it at all," she said. "They have literally airbrushed it out of history."

Making History is described by leading Irish publishing house Gill as "providing everything you need" for secondary students taking Junior Cycle history.

Author Dermot Lucey was unavailable for comment.


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