Cllr Wayne Harding

RIC commemoration postponed

The State commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) has been postponed following public and political backlash.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan announced the postponement after a number of Ministers, TDs and Fine Gael councillors openly criticised the plans.
Meath County Council Cathaoirleach, Wayne Harding, had refused his invitation to the commemoration , which had been planned for next week at Dublin Castle.
He joined a sizeable number of council chairs who had indicated they wouldn't be attending the controversial government- organised event.
Cllr Harding said he had officially informed Meath County Council yesterday morning (Tuesday) that he would not be attending.

The commemoration had come under intense fire across the country, with many claiming it would also be commemorating the Black and Tans, who had terrorised the country.

Deputy Thomas Byrne said he firmly believe that the Government had made a massive blunder.

“Of course there were decent RIC men but, 100 years ago  the RIC was falling apart with officers leaving and recruitment dwindling - for obvious reasons. “They were bolstered by the arrival of the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries. They caused death and mayhem wherever they went  including a notorious rampage in Trim.

“The official plan for the decade of centenaries makes no mention of the RIC. I’ve no idea why it was decided to hold it and I will not be at the commemoration.”

Former Taoiseach and Dunboyne native, John Bruton was supportive of the Government plan to remember the RIC and DMP. “The Government decided to celebrate the War of Independence with many activities, but this is the only mention the RIC will be getting.

“The RIC consisted mainly of Irish people. Between 300 and 400 of them died and they had not been remembered in the last 100 years,” he said.

“It is not an isolated event. There have been many other commemorations.”

Sinn Fein’s Cllr Johnny Guirke expressed strong opposition to the event. “The Black and Tans terrorised our people. It should be the people who stood up to the Black and Tans and the RIC that should be remembered.

“It is a disgrace to be commemorating the people who slaughtered Irish people,” he said.

Local historian, Cllr Noel French said that under no circumstances would he commemorate the Black and Tans or the Auxiliaries.

He pointed out that the commemoration, according to official reports, was not about the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries, but about the RIC.

“The police force during the War of Independence was not accepted by a large part of the community, so to acknowledge the role of the RIC is problematic and a blanket commemoration would be difficult.

“A complicating factor is that back 100 years ago, a lot of our ancestors were policemen and were written out of history.

“We had RIC men in Navan and Trim, who co-operated with the IRA.

“Trim barracks was burned in 1920 with the help of an insider - Constable Meehan who risked his life.

“It is a complex issue. I have no compunction in not commemorating the Black and Tans. It is complicated. We should remember rather than celebrate or commemorate. 

“It is important we remember our history. We have to learn lessons from it and not live in it,” Cllr French concluded.

Minister Regina Doherty said the event was about remembering and not a celebration.

“It’s about remembering our history, not condoning what happened.

“We will also commemorate the burning of Cork, Balbriggan, partition and the atrocities of the civil war.

“A commemoration like this is about the future as much as the past. If we are ever going to reach an agreed understanding of how all communities can share this island, we need to be open to all the narratives of our past.

“I personally believe in a united Ireland but I’m also realistic enough to know that if we are ever to achieve this objective, we need to cater for all the traditions on this Ireland and win people over to accepting that goal,” she said.