Micheál Martin plans to hang Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins portraits side-by-side in his office
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Micheál Martin plans to hang Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins portraits side-by-side in his office

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin says he's planning to hang the portraits of Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins next to each other in his new office.

He made the decision after outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told him that he had taken Collins' portrait down.

Martin says he wants to signal a new era of Irish politics and mark the significance of the formation of his new government by giving the portraits of two of the most prominent figures of the Irish Civil War and Irish War of Independence pride of place.

"Leo Varadkar said to me during the week 'you know I have taken the portrait of Michael Collins down.' I am going to put it back up. I am going to put De Valera next to him in the Taoiseach's office. Just to symbolise what has happened in terms of the formation of this Government.

"I have a wonderful portrait of De Valera in my own opposition office. I am going to bring it over. Lemass is there already. We will also find a place for a bust of (late Taoiseach) Jack Lynch too.

"It will be interesting in terms of the Civil War (commemorations). It will have to be sensitive and honest but it will have to be done with a maturity that will, I suppose, educate and provide insight to the younger generations in terms of the formation and evolution of the State.

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"History to me is about revelation. It is about insights. We can’t look back judgmentally. We can’t import the values of today back a hundred years ago. We have to learn from it and understand it. It (history) belongs to no party."

Eamon de Valera founded Fianna Fail in 1926 in the aftermath of the civil war, and lead the party until 1959.

Collins, like Martin, is a Cork-native and spent years alongside de Valera as a revolutionary before his assassination in 1922.

Martin now begins his two-and-half year stint as Ireland's leader, before handing the role back to Varadkar, as per the coalition deal agreed by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party.