Planned commemoration event for RIC has deferred following backlash

by Rachel Darcy

A planned event to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) later this month has been deferred, following intense backlash.

The event was scheduled to take place on January 17 at Dublin Castle, commemorating those who served in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the Dublin Metropolitan Police prior to Irish Independence.

The RIC are also known as ‘the Black and Tans’, a specialist body of crown-forces constables during the Irish War of Independence.

Both the RIC and the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) were disbanded in 1922 following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

However, following calls for the event to be cancelled by politicians and citizens alike, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan announced on Tuesday night that the event would be cancelled.

In a statement, Minister Flanagan said: “Given the disappointing response of some to the planned event on 17 January, I do not believe that the event, as planned, can now take place in an atmosphere that meets the goals and guiding principles of the overall commemorative programme”.

Following the announcement of the deferral of the commemoration, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “For any Irish government for advocate commemorating these organisations is shameful and it has rightly drawn much criticism.

“Deferral of this planned commemoration is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. This event needs to be cancelled.”

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh, has said that plans for the commemoration were an insult to those who fought for Irish freedom.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh also claims that the All-Party Consultation Group on Commemorations were not consulted about the plans.

He said: “The role of the RIC, and the DMP, were not merely to act as police forces, but they had a specific role to instil terror in the populace in an attempt to break the democratic will of the Irish people for independence.

“In no other state that has emerged from [an] anti-colonial struggle would they celebrate the deeds of the oppressors.”

There was outrage on social media as news of the plans came to the fore, with questions raised over why the Government has decided to ‘celebrate’ the notorious body.

Catherine Dolan wrote: “A relative of ours, Michael Hogan, a Tipperary GAA player, was shot dead in Croke Park by the Black and Tans on Bloody Sunday [November 21] 1920.

“He was 24. The Hogan Stand is named in his memory … So, tell me Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, why you are celebrating these parasites?”

A Twitter user also pointed out the insensitivity of using Dublin Castle as the site for the commemoration.

They wrote: “What is embarrassing about the Black and Tans commemoration being in Dublin Castle is that it’s like licking the boot in the same spot that it cracked your skull.

“Irish people were killed there in the pursuit of Irish sovereignty.”

Minister Flanagan said that an ‘alternative commemoration’ will be planned in the coming months instead of the original event.

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