Councils dispute ownership of diaries belonging to leading Rising figure Roger Casement

Mr Patrick Casement, relative of Roger Casement, and his wife Dr Anne Casement, with Cllr Cormac Devlin. Picture: Maura Hickey

A row has broken out between two local authorities over which should have ownership of the diaries of one of the leading figures of the 1916 Rising.

Today marks 100 years since the execution of Roger Casement and now Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Dublin City Council have independently filed motions for his priceless diaries to be returned to Dublin from the UK.

The anniversary of his execution will be marked at the Garden of Remembrance and Deansgrange Cemetery.

Casement, was captured at Banna Strand on April 21 during an attempt to land German weapons to support the Rising and was hanged at the England’s Pentonville Prison on August 3, 1916.

Dublin City councillors agreed that “ it’s really not okay for the UK to be hanging on to 1916 leader Roger Casement’s diaries” and voted to ask the British government to give them back.

“It’s especially weird that the UK has kept them, given the incredibly malign purpose they were put to,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Frank Kennedy.

Roger Casement
Roger Casement

“The UK government used explicit extracts from the diaries in which Casement wrote about gay sex, to extinguish any calls for clemency.

“Not only were those diaries used to capitalise on prejudice and homophobia, but they were done so for the deliberate purpose of convincing the people to be sympathetic to the execution of someone irrespective of what they had done. It’s not about jingoism, it’s just about bringing them back home from where they have been held. It is bizarre to put it at its mildest,” said Mr Kennedy.

In June, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council passed a similar motion. The two authorities have yet to come to an agreement on which should have ownership of them if they are handed over by the UK.

Both councils have yet to make attempts to meet to discuss the matter and are in no rush to do so as relations sour over the issue according to political sources.

Local mayor Cormac Devlin has announced that the council has commissioned a statue of Casement to mark the centenary of his execution.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Mr Devlin said: “Roger Casement was a remarkable figure, in addition to his involvement in the struggle for Irish freedom, he had a distinguished career in the British Foreign Office, where he highlighted human rights abuses across the world, most famously in the Congo.

“Given he was born in Sandycove it is very appropriate and fitting that Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council would officially recognise his legacy with the commissioning of a statue.”


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