‘We should respect all traditions’ – Taoiseach defends RIC commemoration in Dublin Castle
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has doubled down on his intention to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) force next week and told those opposing the plan we must be mature enough “to acknowledge all aspects of our past.”
The plans to commemorate the RIC particularly and the DMP have been widely criticised and last night Dublin City Councillors voted to boycott the commemoration in Dublin Castle on January 17.
Reacting on Twitter this morning to the news, Taoiseach Varadkar said the event is a commemoration of, and not a celebration of, the forces of the British state which policed Ireland.
“We should respect all traditions on our island and be mature enough as a State to acknowledge all aspects of our past,” the Taoiseach said.
“The RIC/DMP commemoration is not a celebration. It’s about remembering our history, not condoning what happened. We will also remember the terrible burning of Cork, Balbriggan, partition and the atrocities of the Civil War,” he added.
The controversy centres on the commemoration of the British groups termed ‘Auxiliaries’, more commonly known as the Black and Tans in Irish history.
They were placed under the charge of the RIC while posted to Ireland during the War of Independence and their brutal reputation has endured through time, despite the group only being in existence a matter of years.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said the commemoration was an “error in judgement” by the Government.
Waterford TD, David Cullinane is calling on the Government to call off the commemoration, saying plans to commemorate the RIC, the Black and Tans and the DMP are shocking and inappropriate.
“In no other State formed from anti-colonial struggle would they celebrate the deeds of oppressors.
“British police and military in Ireland ruled with terror for centuries, from the RIC with their battering rams evicting families during the Great Hunger, to the Dublin Metropolitan Police attacking and murdering poor workers during the 1913 lock out.
“One hundred years ago the war of Independence was raging, as the RIC and Black and Tans pillaged, murdered and burned out communities across the country, in their attempt to enforce the rule of the British Empire.
“It is shocking that this government would think it right that these oppressive brutal colonial militias, should be honoured for their service.”
While the Mayor of Waterford City and County Council and Labour Party General election candidate John Pratt said he will not attend the ceremony if it goes ahead.
“I am satisfied that as Waterford’s First Citizen, the appetite does not exist for representation at this event.
“I am very disappointed that issues important to Waterford in 2020 aren’t taking precedence today but the replaying of events of 100 years ago. We’ve had civil war politics for too long.”