EIGHT YEARS AGO I IDENTIFIED THE PERVERSE AND PERVERTED CAMPAIGN TO LABEL THOSE WHO SUFFERED OR FOUGHT IN DEFENCE OF DEMOCRACY IN IRELAND AS VILLAINS AND TO INSTALL THEIR MILITANT ANTI-NATIONAL, ANTI-DEMOCRATIC ENEMIES IN A PANTHEON RESERVED IN SELF-RESPECTING STATES FOR THOSE WHO HAD EARNED SUCH HONOURS.
I failed in my purpose, for the time being. Maybe I’m a Cock-Eyed Optimist. But I hope that if the following letter of mine, if it doesn’t inspire you, will give you something to smile at.
It was published in THE IRISH EXAMINER on Monday 27 August 2012 –
“WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER, the recruiting advertisements for Oglaigh na hEieann (Parkgate Street) invoked heroes from the days of Fionn MacCumhal to Brian Boru, through 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 I believed I was joining the Continuity IRA. Our cap badges and buttons were identical to those worn by the Irish Volunteer insurgents of 1916.
The Garda Siochana were not generally 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 the DMP should not be paid for by the ratepayers of Dublin, but by the British War Office.
The DMP’s “G” Division had long been infamous as an agent of espionage and repression until it 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 the direct control of the Crown, under much the same conditions as the army and navy forces.’
Patrick McCarthyand Gerard Lovett, retired Gardaí (Letters Aug 24) appear to believe that the force they served in was but a continuation of the RIC and DMP. They say they ‘sought, so far in vain, for official (Irish) commemoration’ of the ‘over 500 police officers murdered by the IRA during and after the War of Independence and in 1916’.
They claim, disingenuously, that ‘the point of the memorial is not to denigrate the role of the IRA and others in 1916 and 1922, but to mark the lives and deaths of policemen doing their duty.’
It beggars belief that two men whose professional lives were spent in the service of a sovereign democratic Irish state can so confuse their role with that of the forces whose role was to crush movements for democracy and sovereignty in Ireland.”
THE IRISH EXAMINER chose the headline “RIC MEN WERE NOT HEROES” for that letter. In fact most of the force were courageous But their role is not one to admire nor imitate.