OPINION: Memory of Gardaí who died on duty should be held as precious

August 26th, 2019 11:40 AM

By Southern Star Team

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Objections to proposals to honour members of RIC killed in action during Ireland's armed struggle against English occupation

ACCORDING to the INC News, and its editor Daltún Ó Ceallaigh, a plan is afoot whereby An Garda Síochána will honour members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), particularly those killed in action during Ireland’s historic armed struggle against English occupation.

The publication makes the point that, as well as discharging ordinary policing duties, the RIC was a well-armed paramilitary force whose primary function until 1922 was to protect imperial interests in Ireland. 

Commemorating the Irish who participated in Britain’s many wars always has been politically-sensitive, but it’s one thing to honour Irishmen who fought Nazism and quite another to salute ‘peelers’ who saw nothing wrong in stamping out Irish republican sentiment, and executing those who sought freedom for their country.

According to the INC News, members of  An Garda Síochana and members of the RIC who died in action will be commemorated in combined ceremonies. According to the publication, this is nothing more than an attempt ‘to lump together the memories of fallen participants in a colonialist instrument of repression (the RIC) with those of a legitimate and respected police force (the Gardaí) of an independent Irish State.’

The magazine continues: ‘It is known that this proposal is deeply resented by many members of the Gardaí and it is to be hoped that the Government and the Management of An Garda Síochána will have no part in promoting such a scheme. The memory of Gardaí who died while on duty should be held as precious and not sullied in such a manner.’


Mad idea

Indeed, linking the RIC to the Gardaí is not only reprehensible, but it’s also politically tricky. The fact is that, apart from discharging ordinary police duties, the RIC from its formation in 1822 was a gendarmerie that militarily enforced civil law.

For instance, the RIC sought to suppress protest in the Tithe War of 1830, it took action against those seeking repeal of the Act of Union, it put down the Young Ireland revolt in 1848, it oversaw the evictions of starving tenants during the Famine, it suppressed the Fenian rebellion, it enforced evictions during the Land Wars of the late 19th century, and it assisted the British Army during the 1916 Rising and during the War of Independence.

Not a pretty record!

During the War of Independence, militarisation of the RIC reaching its highest point when the British Government created special police forces, namely the Black and Tans, the Auxiliaries and the Ulster Special Constabulary to assist in its operations. Many of the new recruits were psychopathic murderers and criminals who were regarded with contempt by nationalist Ireland (and still are).

It is a fact that any residual respect for the RIC evaporated a long time ago and to suggest that the State now should honour such murderers, arsonists and thugs is an insane idea.


Bottoms up!

Rehabilitating the RIC might seem a task next to impossible but, one can argue, if a few bob  can made out of Ireland’s history, why not give it a try?

For instance, for the very best of reasons, a group of well-intentioned people have a dinger of a plan to turn the history of a brutal, nasty war of liberation in West Cork into a tourist project. The area’s many War of Independence and Civil War locations will be marketed on a ‘tourist trail,’ or tourist route for motorists on their hols – which is a great idea!

Described as a ‘bottom-up community-led initiative to bring tourism into the smaller towns and villages of West Cork,’ the intention is ‘to commemorate the people and places by telling their stories.’ Local B&Bs, cafes, ice-cream shops, souvenir shops and pubs will be the beneficiaries – and what’s wrong with that?

Yet, one wonders what General Tom Barry or Michael Collins would have thought of being transformed into ‘tourist attractions?’  Or, as the Poet put it:

   Was it for this the wild geese spread 

       The grey wing upon every tide; 

       For this that all that blood was shed, 

       For this Edward Fitzgerald died, 

       And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, 

      All that delirium of the brave?’


Out of touch?

Oh, and here’s a good one: Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Michael Moynihan, was fast off the mark last week when he called on Cork Airport to waive the €80 landing fee for the new Air Ambulance service.

The Dáil dippity explained that the air ambulance was the first community-funded service of its kind and that it would make ‘a huge difference to people living in rural parts of Cork.’ Consequently, it was reasonable to assume that the helicopter would be making many stops at Cork Airport to refuel and Mr Moynihan was of the opinion that the chopper should not have to pay a landing fee.

Supporters in Ballingeary, Banteer and other far flung places jumped with joy.  Their public rep certainly had his finger on the pulse; he knew what was going-on all right, his eyes always peeled;  alert and up-to-the minute. Well done, sir!

Impressed, we eagerly read his email demanding no landing fees, which was dated August 14th, 2019.  But, hang on a sec, we exclaimed, something’s odd here?  Hadn’t Cork Airport already waived the landing fee (on August 12th to be precise), a full two days before the dippity issued his request that no fee should be charged.

Not that Mr Moynihan was too embarrassed. With the egg sort of slithering down his noble visage, he sent another communication to the masses, on the evening of the 14th (to be precise).  It said: ‘Cork North West Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan has confirmed this evening that Cork Airport will waive the €80 landing fee for the new Air Ambulance service.’  Confirmed, mind you!

He also told the masses that the air ambulance ‘recently’ stopped at Cork Airport to refuel, ‘which would ordinarily incur a landing fee’ but that the airport had recently agreed to waive the landing fee, which delighted him.

No mention at all that he was parroting old news or that he and his team hadn’t been on the ball; which goes to show that that when it comes to confirming, pledging, guaranteeing, promising, corroborating, authenticating, substantiating, etc., etc.,  a muscular neck is  indispensable to a politician!


Not funny!

Here is a schoolboy joke: Look away now if idiotic gags are not your cup of tea.

Trump is convicted of treason. He is hung by the neck until he is dead.

But, amazingly, minutes after his hanging, he walks down from the gallows and addresses the media: ‘Fake noose, folks!’

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