A MR Brian Murphy, who last May was arrested in Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin, after disrupting a ceremony that commemorated British soldiers killed in the Easter Rising, recently got a two months suspended sentence for his troubles.
The judge who handed down the sentence was spot on! Because, as far as the law was concerned, Mr Murphy had engaged in insulting behaviour with the intention to provoke a breach of the peace. He had infringed the constitutional rights of others to remember their dead.
The commemoration was the brainchild of Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and he saw nothing incongruent about a State ceremony that officially remembered the valour of 125 British soldiers who perished trying to restore order on the streets of Dublin in 1916.
Indeed, only for the intrusion of the protestor, it might have been a rather jolly ceremony once the solemn wreath laying, silent reflection and piper’s lament had finished. A ‘musical element’ was part of the programme and, if members of the Irish and British armies had participated with a combined gusto, they could have created a sort of ‘Finnegan’s Ball’ that everyone would have enjoyed!
Maybe Flanagan is setting a trend that will catch on elsewhere and one day it will result in the French or Dutch instituting a congenial ‘Hug-a-Nazi-Day’?
Indeed there would have been no controversy at all if people had concurred with Flanagan’s evaluation of Irish revolutionary history. His analysis consists of a set of ideas that reflects the broader commentary regarding the way political correctness has influenced 1916 ceremonies for the past year.
In a statement to The Irish Times, Flanagan made clear the manner in which Irish citizens should remember 1916. They should do so with ‘respect’ for the different ‘narratives’ that help us to become aware of the nature and significance of what made Ireland.
‘Respect’, he believes, is central to advancing ‘reconciliation’ between Ireland and Great Britain, and ‘reconciliation is at the heart of how we approach this Decade of Centenaries.’ In other words, once we treat our onetime conquerors with ‘respect,’ our understanding of the diverse influences that brought about the notion of nationhood expands.
What’s more, nothing better embodies the reconciliatory dimension of ‘respect’ than a balanced appraisal of the British Army’s intervention in the 1916 Easter Rising.
A load of bunkum!
Implicit in his ideas is the assertion that since the British have a different historical ‘narrative’ to ours, it is a ‘reconciliatory’ act to acknowledge without any indignation the fact that British armies have traditionally killed with impunity and reduced cities to rubble when faced with restless natives who didn’t know their place.
And, according to Flanagan, a major component of the ‘reconciliation’ process is to cast a tear for British soldiers – such as the ‘raw recruits’ from the Sherwood Foresters, who in 1916 were ‘young men that never before had faced an armed enemy.’
Deeply intriguing is his proposition that we should all embrace his government’s novel definition of ‘reconciliation’ and ‘historical narrative.’ To do so, he says, contributes to ‘the maturity of our understanding of the sometimes shared and sometimes overlapping histories of our islands.’
Political commentator, Tom Cooper, who decries the veneration of those who ruthlessly suppressed the Rising, wrote that political ecumenism was being taken too far and that decades of revisionism and propaganda condoning British imperialism now were bearing fruit. It is a phenomenon that nationalists in West Cork easily can attest to in the wake of the Kilmichael Ambush controversy.
As for the invited guest and protester, Mr Brian Murphy? Well, he too considered the ceremony to be ‘offensive and inappropriate’ and he took great umbrage at the Irish government commemorating those who belonged to an army that had executed the leaders of the Easter Rising.
During the service of commemoration, Mr Murphy, who is not a member of any political party, stepped from the crowd and in a loud voice proclaimed that what was taking place was an insult. At the same time he brought his protest up to date by displaying a sign that sought justice for the ‘Craigavon Two’ – whose conviction he considered to be another Northern miscarriage of justice.
Immediately his peaceful protest turned into an international incident as the Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Mr Kevin Vickers, bizarrely adopting the role of nightclub bouncer, tackled Mr Murphy.
Bearing in mind the large Garda presence, the ambassador’s rowdy behaviour came across as surreal. It made a mockery of the term ‘diplomat’ and raised questions as to what the Canadian was doing there in the first place.
That aside, Mr Murphy later explained that, whereas his great grandfather had served in the British Army for more than thirty years, his grandfather had fought with Eamon De Valera in Boland’s Mills during the 1916 Rising.
Later his grandfather entered politics and became a republican TD and an anti-Treatyite. He was President of Sinn Féin during the 1930s and refused both a State and Army pension from those who had pledged an oath to the Republic and then went on to betray the Republic.
Mr Murphy explained that it was on behalf of the 1916 Irish volunteers that he had made his protest: ‘those who fought for Irish freedom’ while the Grangegorman commemoration was for ‘those who may have been responsible for their deaths.’
‘It was fine from the British Army to commemorate their own dead but “inappropriate” and “insensitive” to the relatives of those killed in 1916 to be commemorating them in Ireland. Does it mean in two or three years’ time they’ll be commemmorating the Black and Tans, the Auxiliaries?’ he asked
Commentator Tom Cooper hailed his protest as an act that saved Ireland’s dignity, pride and honour, ‘while our government reduced our history to a bland equation where there is no context, no morality and no sense of right and wrong.’
Out Mata Hari
The famous Katty Barry (1909-’82), who was renowned for her Coal Quay late night eating house and the variety of district justices, students and ladies that it attracted, was Cork’s answer to Mata Hari.
As well as crubeens, illicit liquor, and maidens, Ms Barry provided a safe house for IRA men. But members of the Crown Forces who visited her picturesque establishment were fed intelligence-trivia about the IRA.
On the other hand, information she acquired about Black and Tan operations, via the seductive charm of the maidens, was passed immediately to the IRA.
She was a very successful double agent.
Here are two jokes: If Hilary Clinton wins the US presidential election, it will be the first time in history that two US presidents have slept with each other; and if Donald Trump wins the election it will be the first time in history that a billionaire has moved into public housing vacated by a black family!
(They’re dreadful jokes! You’re sacked – Ed).