Monday 27 January 2020

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Commemoration event postponed

Thursday, 9th January, 2020 9:07am

A State commemoration for the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) planned for this month was deferred after a backlash from the public and many politicians.

People across the country saw red when the commemoration was first announced given the RIC’s association with the Black and Tans, who became notorious for attacking civilians and civilian property, with the first recruits landing in Ireland in late 1919.

Many took to social media to vent their frustrations with some using the tagline ‘Come out you Black and Tans, Fine Gael will shake your hands’.

The RIC and DMP fought rebels during the War of Independence and were supplemented by the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries, who became known for their brutality.

Speaking about the postponement of the event on ‘The Pat Kenny Show’ on Newstalk yesterday, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said there has been “a particularly hostile atmosphere. There was a lot of division and the purpose of the event was to bring people together.”

He said he was taken aback by the backlash explaining that he was “struck over the last 48 hours at the nastiness and the vitriol” in emails and phone calls he received about it.

When asked about the Black and Tans associations, he described it as being greatly complex. He said: “The reality is that this is our history and it’s a shared history that needs to be acknowledged.”

Prior to the announcement that the commemoration, which had been due to take place on 17 January, had been postponed, Cork’s two mayors said they wouldn’t attend.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr John Sheehan said: “As Lord Mayor of Cork, I wear the same mayoral chain as worn by our two martyr lord mayors, Terence MacSwiney and Tomás MacCurtain. I have concerns about an event which implies a celebration of the role of the RIC institution. I do not believe it is an appropriate way to commemorate the wider events of 1920.”

He added: “However I am deeply conscious of the varied and complex reasons that led Irish people to join this organisation. I am more than happy to meet with families of former RIC officers. I believe these meetings and the Decade of Centenaries Scholarship Programme are a more sensitive and reflective way to deepen the country’s understanding around our shared history.”

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