On 2nd November 2015, in this space, I exposed SOME THOUGHTS ON FERGAL KEANE OBE, many of which I had revealed to readers of THE IRISH POST and THE IRISH WORLD over previous years. Though my criticisms were severe they were never challenged, let alone refuted, and I’m convinced that they should stand the test of time.
Mr Keane expressed a wish for a TRUTH COMMISSION on the unpleasantness in the North of Ireland, and events connected to it further afield since 1968.
His wish was expressed in THE INDEPENDENT of London. I doubt he would express it again in the British media, not on General Nick Carter’s watch, nor that of the current British Government. He might risk an even more painful fate than being dropped by the BBC and the Irish Studies Department of Liverpool University. The British Dog of War is a jealous Dog and welcomes truth like a flea in its ear.
Mr Keane complained that British Crown Forces killed during the 1919-1921 didn’t get proper funerals in Ireland. Well, one RIC man TOBIAS O’SULLIVAN, shot in Listowel, Co. Kerry, by the IRA in April 1921, got a huge funeral through the centre of Dublin to Glasnevin, which can be seen on YOUTUBE, and there was no attempt by Ireland’s democratic forces to disrupt it. It may, perhaps, console Mr Keane, that most of the Crown Forces who fell in that war, got similarly conducted funerals, with no interference from Ireland’s National Democratic Forces, and many of them were recorded for Pathe News.
Mr Keane was perturbed that ten Volunteers of the Democratic Forces, hanged and buried in quicklime in 1920 and 1921 were exhumed and given State funerals 80 years later.
Mr Keane’s family comes from Listowel, and I find it hard to believe that anyone considered an authority on modern Irish history cannot be unaware of events in the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks there on 15 June 1920 when it was visited by the Force’s newly installed Commander, General Tudor, hand -picked by Winston Churchill, who later proudly introduced another of his favoured warriors, to Josef Stalin, as a “CUT-THROAT”, and the newly appointed Divisional Commander for Munster, Smyth, recently transferred from the British Military.
Smyth addressed the RIC Garrison, telling them that they would henceforth patrol the country at least five nights a week, that they would lie in ambush. Civilians who didn’t immediately obey the order to raise their hands were to be shot down. If they had their hands in their pockets, they were to be shot down. “The more you shoot, the more I will like you, and I assure you that no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man.”
The garrison, all Irishmen,told Smyth that he was a murderer, and stripped themselves of their arms and resigned from the force. Tudor threatened them with courtmartial, but despite the semi-military nature of the RIC they were not liable for that procedure. Similar resignations followed in Killarney and Tralee.
I read the account of the Listowel incident in “Kerry’s Fighting Story” over 65 years ago, though, unlike Keane and his clan I have no Kerry relations.
Constable Jeremiah Mee’s Witness Statement to the Bureau of Military History is available online. The Irish Bulletin of 12 J,uly 1920 gives an account of the incident.
Volume 2 of the reprints of the IRISH BULLETIN covers the incident. on page720.
On 29 JULY 1920 the Bulletin carried an Instruction from Sinn Fein HQ in Dublin to all Sinn Fein Clubs, headed
“Now that the English-controlled police forces in Ireland are breaking up, the country should take cognisance of the position individual ex-members of these forces assume under the new regime.”
It continued -“Every man of Irish birth should get a chance of becoming a loyal citizen of the Irish Republic, and of earning an honest living in Ireland. This is true even of those Irishmen who are so unfortunate to be engaged in doing the work of the enemy in Ireland as members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. .Many of these men joined without any clear understanding of what they were doing. They were young; they had no knowledge of Irish history The national tradition may have been weak in their own families and in their native district. It should be made clear to that those who now resign will not beegarded as enemies of Ireland but will be granted every opportunity to make up for the past………”
PERHAPS, NINETY-NINE YEARS LATER,those Irishmen and Irishwomen with little knowledge or understanding of their country’s history now “engaged in doing the work of the enemy” might be encouraged to become loyal citizens of Ireland, cease spreading enemy propaganda, and given ” the opportunity to make up for the past ”
HOW ABOUT IT FERGAL?