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.
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)
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.”
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;
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
Pic of votes: Claire Dunne