'Wholly inappropriate' for Irish people to attend RIC commemoration in the UK - Sinn Féin


Michael Staines
Michael Staines

11.41 7 Sep 2021


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It would be inappropriate for Irish Government figures to attend a planned Royal Irish Constabulary commemoration in the UK, according to Sinn Féin.

An event is due to be held in St Paul’s Cathedral in London next April, with senior Gardaí and Government figures expected to be invited.

It comes after the Government was forced to suspend its own commemorative event in the face of public opposition due to the force’s role in enforcing British rule in Ireland and association with the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries during the War of Independence.

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The UK event is being hosted by the Police Roll of Honour Trust at the request of the Historical and Reconciliation Police (HARP) Society, which is made up of ex-gardaí.

It will honour the service and sacrifice of the 83,743 officers who served in the force over its 86-year existence.

"Immaturity"

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Irish Examiner journalist Mick Clifford said the inability of the State to commemorate the force without causing uproar shows the immaturity of some parts of society.

“It does display an element of immaturity about us in this State that the RIC which was, whatever way you look at it, made up of Irish men - largely men at the time - and existed for over 80 years,” he said.

“That it cannot be commemorated in any form on the island in which it was established and from which its members were drawn and now it would appear that such a commemoration has to take place in the UK.”

He suggested the situation could damage the prospect of a United Ireland.

“Where most people, including myself, in the south would not identify with the RIC and what they represented, undoubtedly the unionists would do so because they represented the colonial power at the time,” he said.

“If we in the southern state are not capable of any kind of a mature reflection 100 years on about the existence of that police force how, for example, do unionists view that?”

"Wholly innapropriate"

Also on the show, Sinn Féin TD John Brady said it was “wholly inappropriate” for the Irish Government to attempt to commemorate the RIC, “and by extension the Black and Tans.”

“I think it was absolutely unbelievable that that notion ever entered anyone’s head here within the Irish Government,” he said.

What we have seen here in this country was a brutal occupying force that set about trying to destroy the mandate that had been given. We had brutal atrocities carried out by the Black and Tans and certainly I don’t think it is appropriate that butchers such as that should be commemorated here within this country in any way shape or form.”

Asked about the Irish people that served in the RIC over its 86-yer history, he noted that many of them “saw exactly what was going on” during the War of Independence and withdrew their services.

“The British are well entitled to do what they want to do in terms of their commemorations but I don’t think it is appropriate that we commemorate people who tried to suppress the desire for freedom by the Irish people that was borne out of 1916 and fought for through the war of independence.

“Certainly, I don’t think it is appropriate for any Irish people to commemorate people who carried out such terrible atrocities such as those carried out by the Black and Tans.”

The RIC was established in 1836 and was eventually disbanded at the foundation of the State in 1922.

The Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans were recruited into the force in 1920.


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