‘We should respect all traditions’ – Taoiseach defends RIC commemoration in Dublin Castle
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has doubled down on his intention to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) force next week and told those opposing the plan we must be mature enough “to acknowledge all aspects of our past.”
The plans to commemorate the RIC particularly and the DMP have been widely criticised and last night Dublin City Councillors voted to boycott the commemoration in Dublin Castle on January 17.
Reacting on Twitter this morning to the news, Taoiseach Varadkar said the event is a commemoration of, and not a celebration of, the forces of the British state which policed Ireland.
“We should respect all traditions on our island and be mature enough as a State to acknowledge all aspects of our past,” the Taoiseach said.
“The RIC/DMP commemoration is not a celebration. It’s about remembering our history, not condoning what happened. We will also remember the terrible burning of Cork, Balbriggan, partition and the atrocities of the Civil War,” he added.
The controversy centres on the commemoration of the British groups termed ‘Auxiliaries’, more commonly known as the Black and Tans in Irish history.
They were placed under the charge of the RIC while posted to Ireland during the War of Independence and their brutal reputation has endured through time, despite the group only being in existence a matter of years.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said the commemoration was an “error in judgement” by the Government.
Kilkenny TD, Kathleen Funchion is calling on the Government to call off the commemoration, saying it is an affront to those who resisted British rule in Ireland during the War of Independence.
“The citizens who suffered at the hands of those that enforced British rule in Ireland are who we should be commemorating, not the RIC or the Black and Tans.
“The RIC and DMP were not merely police forces – as the Government seems to think – they had a specific role in upholding what was oftentimes martial law and suppressing the will of the Irish people for self-determination and national independence.
“This State commemoration should be cancelled outright. In no other State would those who facilitated the suppression of national freedom be commemorated by the State.”
Deputy Funchion is warning the Government that failure to call off the planned commemoration will result in public protests.
“If this commemoration goes ahead it will undoubtedly be met with dignified protest and Sinn Féin is organising for that eventuality.”
Fianna Fail members in Kilkenny County Council have written to the CEO of the local authority requesting they do not attend the commeroration on behalf of the people of Kilkenny.