The remarkable story of Fr Padraig Ó Máille, a humanitarian priest from Louisburgh, who was deported from Malawi during the reign of the brutal Banda regime and has since become Honorary Consul for that country in Ireland, is told in a documentary which will be broadcast on Midwest Radio over Christmas.
Born in 1931 in the village of Doughmackeown, Louisburgh, Fr Ó Máille is a missionary priest with the Kiltegan Order. After his ordination in 1957 he went to Nigeria and taught there until the outbreak of the Biafran War in 1962 when he was deported.
After returning home to Ireland for a short period in 1970, where he was active in the Irish language civil rights movement, he returned to the missions, this time to Malawi. Sixteen years later, because of his political activities, he was deported from the central African state. Malawi gained independence from Britain in 1963 and became a one-party state, ruled by dictator Dr Hastings Banda, a man who appointed himself “President for life”. Fr Ó Máille is recognised as having played a significant role in Dr Banda’s eventual downfall and in the development of multiparty democracy in this landlocked country of about ten million people.
In the documentary, Fr Padraig Ó Máille—Deportee to Honorary Consul, which will be broadcast on December 28 at 9am, the Mayo priest’s role in helping those imprisoned and persecuted during that time is recalled and appreciated by some of those who were affected.
Amongst those interviewed by the presenter/producer Teresa O’Malley for the 40-minute documentary are Fr Ó Máille himself; the renowned national poet of Malawi, Dr Jack Mapanje; Malawi’s High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Francis Moto; as well as Jim Loughran of Amnesty International Ireland.
It is part of a series of four programmes produced and presented by Teresa O’Malley, entitled “Mayo Abroad”, looking at the impact of Mayo people on the international stage, which has been commissioned by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI ) as part of its Sound and Vision initiative.
The other Mayo people who feature in the series are: former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson; former EU Commissioner, Padraig Flynn; and Foxford-born Noel Dorr, who gave immense service to the nation over a long and distinguished period as a diplomat.