The following letter of mine was reprinted in The Irish Political Review before I was aware of that excellent journal’s existence.
I little thought at the time that a Garda Commissioner might be an ex-RUC man with MI5 connections, subject to the British Official Secrets Act and possibly an oath-bound Freemason.
Or that Irish troops would be helping Israel annex the Golan heights and doing dirty work in French-dominated “former” dominions!
Anyhow – here goes –
“When I was a teenager, the recruiting advertisements for Oglaigh na hEireann (Parkgate St.) invoked heroes from the days of Fionn MacCumhal, through Brian Boru, to the IRA of 1916-1921.
The message was that the State’s Army was the Continuity IRA. Ministers of Defence Oscar Traynor and Sean MacEoin and Ministers of Education Dick Mulcahy and Sean Moylan were all IRA heroes.
Indeed in 1922 Mulcahy assured comrades wary of the army section answering to the Provisional Government and paid by it, that it would continue to be the Irish Republican Army.
When I joined the part-time FCA Reserve I believed I was joining the Continuity IRA. Our cap badge and buttons
were identical to those worn by the Irish Volunteer Insurgents of 1916.
The Garda Siochana was generally not seen as a continuation of the RIC, nor of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Tom Kettle,the Home Rule MP who was to die serving in the British Army in Flanders, was clear about the function of the DMP. In his maiden speech in the House of Commons he said that the DMP should not be paid by the ratepayers of Dublin, but by the British War Office.
The DMP’s “G” Division had had long been infamous as an agent of espionage and repression, and was eventually neutralised by infiltration or elimination by the forces of Irish democracy. The role of the RIC was defined by the Chief Secretary for Ireland in London’s House of Commons in March 1919. It was a “semi-military body, under direct control of the Crown, under much the same conditions as the army and navy forces.”
Patrick McCarthy and Gerard Lovett, retired Gardai, (Letters, Aug 24) appear to believe that the force they served was but a continuation of the RIC and DMP. They say they sought, so far in vain, for official (Irish) State commemoration of the “over 500 police officers who were murdered by the IRA before and after the War of Independence and in 1916.”
They claim, disingenuously, that the point of their memorial is ‘ not to denigrate the role of the IRA and others in 1916 and 1922, but to mark the lives and deaths of the policemen who suffered and died for doing their duty.’
IT BEGGARS BELIEF that two men whose professional careers werespent in the service of a sovereign democratic Irish state can so confuse their role with that of forces whose role was to crush the movements for sovereignty and democracy in Ireland.
THE IRISH TIMES recently reprinted an address by Minister For Defence Oscar Traynor to Irish Army Recruits in 1952. He told them they would never be employed to attack another nation nor to deprive its people of their liberties. Traynor was a 1916 Veteran, Brigade Commander of the IRA in Dublin from November 1921. He had previously played an International role as goalkkeeper with Belfast Celtic and was longtime President of the Football Association of Ireland. What Minister
for War of any Imperialist power ever made a promise like his to any forces under their command?
P.P.S. Eamonn Broy started his career with the Dublin Metropolitan Police. He became one of Michael Collins’s key agents in the neutralisation of its “G” Division.
He was later the Garda Commissioner. He gave a long Witness Statement to the (Irish) Bureau of Military History. Describing and defining the role of the RIC. Whether the Czar’s Secret Police were modellled on the RIC or vice versa I don’t know, but it seems the KGB. Gestapo and Stasi
were no smarter, sneakier, nor threatening to democracy than the RIC.
Either the RIC or Irish democracy had to go.