“We Maybe Should Reconsider These Commemorations” [Updated]

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From top: members of The Black and Tans ; Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, right, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, centre, with Minster for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation Heather Humphreys, left, and Minister for Rural and Community Affairs Michael Ring (second from right) at a Fine Gael ‘think-in’ last September; a tweet from the taoiseach this morning.

This evening.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has released the following statement:

“As a Government, we have at all times sought to have a national programme of commemorations that is authentic, sensitive and inclusive.

“We very much support the recommendation that there should be specific State-led initiatives to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP).

“However, given the disappointing response of some to the planned event on 17th January, I do not believe that the event, as planned, can now take place in an atmosphere that meets the goals and guiding principles of the overall commemorative programme.

“Therefore, I am announcing its deferral.”

“I know that, regrettably, this decision will be a cause of hurt and upset to many people. I commit to proceeding with an alternative commemoration in the months ahead.

“As a next step, I will consult further with the expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemoration, with the all-party consultative group on commemoration and with other stakeholders, with a view to organising an event that is inclusive and fully respectful of all the traditions and memories on this island.”

Govt defers RIC commemoration event (RTÉ)

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Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin released the following statement in respect of the controversial ceremony to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police on January 17 in Dublin Castle…

“Over the last twenty years a model of inclusive commemoration has been developed and implemented by successive governments. Central to this has been the role of public consultation and expert advice.

“The government has caused an unnecessary controversy around this RIC/DMP event by abandoning this approach.

“Recommendations on the commemoration of the War of Independence and Civil War were submitted to government by an all-party and expert group two years following a widespread public consultation.

“These recommendations were accepted by government. While these recommendations included the sensible view that the role of the RIC should be remembered in some way, there was no discussion involving the most appropriate method of doing so.

“An all-inclusive event, remembering all who died during the War of Independence is already scheduled and it was understood by all involved that this would be an appropriate moment to demonstrate that we also remember those who did not support the struggle for national independence which was secured by the men and women who are the focus of many other events.

“It is important to explore every element of this period and use this time as an opportunity to properly discuss every aspect of a complex history.

“It is also undeniably true that many decent people joined the police force of the day for legitimate reasons but found themselves on the wrong side of history. Indeed, elements of the RIC worked closely with those fighting for Irish freedom at great personal risk.

“I am acutely conscious also of how this controversy, and some of the language being used in the debate surrounding it, will be received by different traditions in Northern Ireland.

“We need to have a calm and mature discussion. In my view, the event organised by the Justice Minister is not the appropriate vehicle to explore such complex themes.

“It was an error of judgement compounded by the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and their reaction to those who have decided not to participate.

“They should withdraw their accusation that, to quote Minister Flanagan, those who choose not to attend this event are abandoning “mutual understanding and reconciliation”.

“The years ahead will have many anniversaries that will pose difficulties and confront us with challenging questions about the country’s journey to independence.

“It is critically important that we come through this process in a spirit of honesty and reconciliation.

“We need to rediscover the generosity that informed the 1916 commemorations and return to the open engagement and consultation of that process.

“This event will go ahead, and those who wish to participate in it should be fully respected in doing so.

“However, I also believe that the special cross-party committee on commemorations should be reconvened to consult on future commemorations and that it be asked to look again at the question of how we appropriately appraise and remember the activities of the RIC and the DMP over the course of the coming years.”

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From top: Dublin City Council Fine Gael councillor Anne Feeney; How Dublin City Councillors voted last night on the motion to boycott the RIC commemoration service;

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke, presented by Cormac Ó hEadhra.

Fine Gael councillor on Dublin City Council Anne Feeney spoke to Mr Ó hEadhra about last night’s vote by the council to boycott the national commemoration service for the Royal Irish Constabulary.

The motion to boycott the event was passed by 38 votes to ten.

Ms Feeney was one of the ten councillors to vote against it.

This morning, shetold Mr Ó hEadhra:

“Firstly, what I want to say, I want to acknowledge the great job that state and the country and Government, and all parties involved, did, in relation to the commemoration of the 1916 patriots and events.

“We did that with great respect and with great dignity.

“And I think people generally felt part of that. And many of us remember the relatives who fought and sacrificed in relation to that.

“We’re now heading into much trickier water with the forthcoming commemorations around the War of Independence, the Civil War and various others.

“And I’m not sure we’re ready for this.

“My personal view is that we maybe should reconsider these commemorations in terms of what we’re trying to achieve. And are we just opening up division and derision which I’d hoped we were leaving behind in relation to how Irish we are.”

Asked if she’ll stay away from the commemoration or if she’ll attend, she said:

“Well I wasn’t invited, so that hasn’t arisen at this point. But, you know, I prefer to look forward and I prefer to…”

When she was asked if she thinks it’s a “good thing to commemorate the RIC”, she said:

“It depends on the commemoration really. And it depends on the appetite for it in the country. You know, I think we have to listen to people, we have to listen to the public and certainly there were very decent people in the RIC as well as rogues.

“And, you know, I think, for a family of deceased members of these, some form of commemoration that would be apt for them, at least appropriate. But I think we need to take, you know, take on board the temperature and listen to people.

“A lot of people feel it’s not appropriate at this point.”

It was put to Ms Feeney that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who supports the initiative, suggested that councillors or mayors who do not wish to attend should “at least allow someone in their stead”.

Ms Feeney said:

“Well I think they should allow them go. But I think, you know, it’s up to individuals to make up their own mind in relation to it.

“And what Minister Charlie Flanagan has stated is, is that this commemoration is to commemorate the role of Irish men in the RIC police force in Ireland, not the black and tans, not the rogue ones, not the dysfunctional ones.

“Now that’s the official line on that but we just need, we all need to be sensitive and respectful of each other as we go forward.

“I think as a nation, we should have matured that much.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: “Obscene”

Pic of votes: Claire Dunne

37 thoughts on ““We Maybe Should Reconsider These Commemorations” [Updated]

  1. Clampers Outside

    Can I get a side by side of the vote for white water rafting?

    For fun, of course…. or maybe we could have an RIC white water rafting procession.

    On a more serious note…. did she seek to know the public’s “appetite for” white water rafting? I wonder.

    Reply
  2. Ben Redmond

    Maybe we should seek the expert opinions of linguists on the different nuances of meaning of such words as Rememberance, Commemoration, Celebration. Should we commemorate some things and simply remember others? The Royal Irish Constabulary was a police force in its time and the Dublin Metropolitan Police were an area-specific force also. Should their past existence be ‘marked’ by relatives and descendents of past members by means of private religious and civil liturgies? Should university academics remember these forces by partaking in historical seminars to which the media and public are invited?

    Reply
    1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

      Concur – I would have merrily gone to a lecture on either of these outfits without wishing to light any candles, and avoiding all wreaths.
      I think the 1916 casualty wall in Glasnevin was a good idea. A dry chronological list of all fallen combatants, 1919-23, would have been more appropriate.. but perhaps might have required very long wall. Could be a natural, decorative solution if Boris erects a very hard border : )

      Reply
      1. Ben Redmond

        @ shuldorff: I agree with the suggestions in your concurrence. I think many citizens under the age of 50 today would prefer the events of the period 1919-1923 to be ‘marked’ more than celebrated. As for public ‘commemorations’, the general public under a certain age group glances at television reports and newspaper accounts of such events, without being interested in participating in such ritual events. Historians should regularly be invited to ‘discuss’ in a professional manner the causes, courses and short term/long term consequences of all events from the 1916 to 1923 period.

        Reply
  3. Spaghetti Hoop

    Flanagan is back-tracking. He’s now stressing that this is about the Irish people who served the RIC and DMP. Leo is now comparing it to the tributes paid to the Irish soldiers who fought in the Great War. The commemoration on Jan 17th is actually focused on honouring the institutions. A very good historian stated that this was the government’s big mistake; placing institution over individual, because the former represents power and oppression.

    We honoured our Irish WW1 veterans without honouring the British Army – which was successfully done from the many events I went to between 2014 and 2018 – and it healed a gaping wound in terms of the harsh treatment the soldiers received on their return. This revisionist show is nowhere near healing and reflection – it is honouring the instruments of war and hatred and an oppressive foreign force. Being the first event of 2020 also smacks of stupidity of the organisers.

    Reply
  4. White Dove

    If we’re not ready to reconcile 100 years after, when will we be ready?

    Any time there isn’t a general election coming up?

    Reply
  5. scottser

    I have written a few songs for the commemoration, boul Oliver Cromwell, darling of erin and me own sweet black and tan boy

    Reply
  6. Iggy

    There’s forgiveness and reconciliation but this sort of nonsense rewrites history. The British presence in Ireland was one of brutal occupation. These events suggests some level of benign intentions on the part of the empire. There weren’t any. 100 years later, it is indeed time to move on but truth should never be sacrificed for a photo op. Lay out the facts and walk away.

    Reply
    1. GiggidyGoo

      The rewriting of history has been going on for 9 years now. For what reason I don’t know because all of these rewriters will be dead in the next 4 decades or so, so they won’t benefit from it. They are raping our history.

      Reply
  7. Ringsend Incinerator

    With a perspective on the RIC and DMP check, out “Half-drunk, whole-mad and one-fifth Irish” (the Black and Tans, not the Pogues).

    Politics versus profession. Let them be.

    “the police should be treated as persons who having been adjudged guilty of treason to their country are regarded as unworthy to enjoy any of the privileges or comforts which arise from cordial relations with the public”.

    “When we joined the police force, we joined with characters second to none and we refused to co-operate or work in any capacity with the British military, men of low moral character who frequented bad houses, kept the company of prostitutes and generally were unsuitable and undesirable characters”.

    Reply
    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      I knew Ferriter couldn’t be behind this. So it’s mainly supported by Drew Harris and Charlie Flanagan (who’s da was a vocal Nazi-supporter). All makes sense now.

      Reply
  8. Spaghetti Hoop

    Had it been a low key event to pay respects to the Irish members of the RIC and DMP (and many of the G-men were double agents don’t forget) you could consider it a respectful gesture for the families. But Flanagan wanted to trumpet-blow for the institutions themselves, which includes all their disgustingly horrible deeds and their stamping out of any rebellious spirit. Is he in Harris’s pocket I wonder?

    Place the commemorative agenda back with the Advisory Group and keep self-serving politicians well away.

    Reply
    1. GiggidyGoo

      We had masked ‘security’ traveling in an ex-UK police van attending an eviction in Dublin not long ago. No reg plates, no insurance, masked terrorists.
      We had a group of UVF terrorists evicting (they got their come-uppance by all accounts) in the midlands

      NOT ONE AGENT OF THE IRISH STATE INTERVENED. Instructions of blueshirt Flanagan and his UK head of police here.

      Reply
  9. Shitferbrains

    Good news. Also postpone any border poll for at least a generation because no- one in the Rep of Irl has the slightest interest in the hard work involved in a UI.

    Reply
  10. GiggidyGoo

    There was an old man called Charlie Tanagain
    He grew Blueshirts on his chinnagin
    The electorate came and pushed them in again
    Poor old Charlie Tanagain

    Reply
  11. Steph Pinker

    It must be an amazing narcissistic egoistical feeling to have so much power to the point whereby all it takes is the flip of a coin, or being populist; so much for integrity and sincerity in our elected government. It’s a pity they can’t solve the rental/ housing/ HSE crises as quickly.

    Welcome to FG politics.

    Reply
    1. Steph Pinker

      Just thinking, if there’s ever an independent documentary film produced about the [hopefully] inevitable demise of FG in 2020, maybe the screenwriter could title it, The Wind That Shakes The Charlie.

      Reply
  12. Truth in the News

    There is an under current to all of this and it revolves around Harris and his influence
    in Government circles, and its time to uncover his activities when he was a member of
    PSNI and before that the Royal Ulster Constabulary, there is also the issue of “Glenarm
    Gang” how come there is not a whimper out of Sinn Fein about his appointment:
    One issue who sanctioned and pays for all the security surrounding him since
    his appointment…….commemorating the RIC and the Pale Version of them is almost
    the same as having a commemoration for those who were the Guards in Auschwitz
    One wonder’s will Varadkr’s next move will be the erection of a monument to the
    Black and Tans

    Reply
  13. RuilleBuille

    The original intention for this event was to honour the RIC, DMP, Black and Tans and the Auxies. As opposition grew they started backtracking furiously falsely claiming it was only for the RIC/DMP. Then they tried to blame the Advisory Committee. It is clear the chair of the AC, Maurice Manning, did a solo run supporting Flanagan and quickly had to pull his horns in.

    All these four organisations should be vilified not honoured.

    Reply
    1. Truth in the News

      Why not an exhibition in Collins Barracks now a part of the Museum to bring to
      public attention real history of RIC & DMP and the Black and Tans, its well past
      time that the present generation are made aware that the right to Irish freedom
      was suppressed by these groups, an in depth insight is needed to discover who
      planned and organised them and indeed to list in particular all the names of
      those who were recruited as Black and Tans so as to ensure that a modern
      version is not resurrected again in the light of end game in the North.

      Reply

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