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Public reps hit out at government decision to commemorate RIC this month

Imelda Munster, Declan Breathach, Ruairi O Murchu
Imelda Munster TD, Declan Breathach TD and Cllr Ruairi O Murchu.

A number of TDs and councillors have aired their opposition to the government’s plans to hold state commemorations for the Royal Irish Constabulary today, with one labelling the decision “an insult to those who resisted the brutal and bloody oppression of British rule.”

A Decade of Centenaries commemoration for the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police, which is scheduled for January 17, is being hosted by Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan who yesterday described the event as “an acknowledgement the historical importance of both the DMP and the RIC, and is in no sense a commemoration of the “Black & Tans” or the “Auxiliaries”.

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However, that has done little to soften the stance of those who staunchly oppose it. An emergency motion has been tabled by Independent councillor Maeve Yore for tonight’s Dundalk Municipal District meeting, calling on the government to cancel plans for the event.

And Sinn Fein’s Ruairi O Murchu has tabled his motion for this month’s Louth County Council meeting in which he calls on the government not to organise State commemorations for British forces of occupation. Speaking today, the councillor and General Election candidate lashed out at the basis for the commemoration.

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“The decision of the government, instigated by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, to hold a State commemoration on January 17 for members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police is an insult to those who resisted the brutal and bloody oppression of British rule,” he said.

“The RIC maintained and enforced British misrule in Ireland.  They acted as the eyes and ears of the British Empire, operating out of Dublin Castle. They used brutal and bloody means to uphold the British occupation and to suppress the will of the Irish people for self determination and national independence.

“These deeds should certainly not be commemorated in any official way by the Irish state.

“Everyone has a right to remember their dead as they see fit, however it is unheard of for a State which continues to struggle for national freedom and self determination to honour those who worked to deny this,” O Murchu continued. “This latest decision by Fine Gael is a reminder although they may pay lip service to Irish freedom and reunification, their actions do not inspire confidence.

His Sinn Fein colleague Imelda Munster called the event an affront to those who resisted British rule in Ireland during the Tan War and that citizens who suffered at the hands of those that enforced British rule in Ireland are who we should be
commemorating.

“This State commemoration should be cancelled outright,” she said. “In no other State would those who facilitated the suppression of national freedom be commemorated by the State and I am calling on the government to cancel this proposed
State commemoration.”

Munster also called out Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd and Fianna Fail’s Declan Breathnach to speak publicly as to their stance on the matter. “The State’s revisionism will leave them on the wrong side of history,” she said. “If this commemoration goes ahead it will undoubtedly be met with dignified protest and Sinn Féin is organising for that eventuality.”

Just over 60 minutes after Munster issued her statement, Deputy Breathnach did respond.

“In no other State would those who facilitated the suppression of national freedom be commemorated by the State.”
  • Imelda Munster
  • Sinn Fein TD

“If Fine Gael or indeed any party, group or individual wish to commemorate the RIC they of course have the right to do so. However, I have an issue with there being a State led commemoration of the RIC,” Breathnach stated.

“The State is commemorating a force that was the strong arm of the British State in Ireland and worked to suppress Ireland’s fight for independence.

“Many men from The Louth Brigade took part in the 1916 Rising and fought in the War of Independence, added to the fact that Louth voters rejected British rule in the 1918 General Election.

“The RIC was on the wrong side of history by supporting British rule and working hand in hand with the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries in senseless and barbaric murders of people in Louth and across Ireland.

“Every year I attend the commemoration in Ardee of Sean O’Carroll and Patrick Tierney, two IRA volunteers who were killed by the Black and Tans one hundred years ago. It would be hypocritical of me and indeed an insult to these men and the many others who gave their life for Irish freedom if I supported the State’s RIC Commemoration this month,” he continued.

“We must be aware of our complex past, but it is inappropriate for the state to commemorate a force who brutally opposed the movement for Irish Freedom. I hope the Government reconsider this proposed State commemoration.”

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the murders of Tierney and O’Carroll by the Black and Tans with special tributes planned to coincide with the annual commemoration held at the Tierney monument in the town.

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