Taoiseach 'disappointed' politicians are boycotting commemoration of Royal Irish Constabulary members

Taoiseach 'disappointed' politicians are boycotting commemoration of Royal Irish Constabulary members

THE GOVERNMENT'S controversial plan to commemorate members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police who served prior to Irish Independence is proving unpopular with politicians who intend to boycott the event, something which the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has today described as 'disappointing'.

The commemorations are due to take place in Dublin Castle on Friday, 17th January, but several high-profile politicians from different political parties, including a number of city mayors, will not be attending, with most citing the RIC and DMP's links to the Black and Tans, who terrorised the Irish public during the fight for independence.

Speaking today, the Taoiseach  said it is "regrettable" that some have chosen not to attend the event.

"I remember ten or fifteen years ago it was very controversial to commemorate the deaths of soldiers in World War One, as people felt they shouldn't be remembered because they fought for the United Kingdom, they fought for the British," Mr Varadkar said. "That has changed."

"Now we all accept, or almost everyone accepts, that is is right to remember the Irish people, soldiers, who died in the first world war, and I think the same thing really applies to police officers who were killed-- Catholic and Protestants alike-- who were members of the RIC and the DMP, many of whose family members are still alive and remember them.

"I think it's a shame that people are boycotting it but the government stands over the decision to uphold the event."

The Lord Mayor of Cork, John Sheehan, is among those boycotting the event, as he told local Cork 96fm Opinion Line it wouldn't be appropriate considering, among other things, the burning of Cork by the Black and Tans.

"[...]You are commemorating an institution that does not have a good history in Ireland and took the side of the Black and Tans during the War of Independence," he said.

"Particularly given Cork’s history with the Black and Tans. The RIC were part of that,”

The Mayor of Clare, Cathal Crowe, said in a statement that to commemorate the RIC is "a step too far".

"The RIC joined army and auxiliaries (Black & Tans) in search parties and raids that resulted in our country-people being killed/tortured or having their homes torched. In the 1800s the RIC were present with battering rams as poor Irish tenants were forcefully evicted from their ramshackle homes."

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Aengus Ó Snodaigh, said:

"The role of the RIC, and the DMP, were not merely to act as police forces, but they had a specific role to instill 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 anti-colonial struggle would they celebrate the deeds of the oppressors," he added.