'Open, reflective debate' urged at Treaty centenary

'Open, reflective debate' urged at Treaty centenary

Pictured at the event to commemorate the centenary of the handover of Dublin Castle were Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar chatting with Elizabet Berney (nee Mulcahy) the eldest daughter of General Richard Mulcahy. Picture: Julien Behal

Descendants of the people who represented Dáil Éireann at the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations in 1921 commemorated its 100th anniversary with President Michael D Higgins today.

As part of a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the Treaty, the descendants of some of the 70-strong negotiating team have been traced, including descendants of Michael Collins, Cathal Brugha, Robert Barton, Kathleen McKenna, Seán Milroy, Tim Smiddy, Diarmaid Fawsitt, Fionan Lynch, Bridget Mary Lynch (nee Slattery) and Ned Broy.

President Higgins said everyone on the negotiating team “put themselves on the line” at a dangerous time, and he called on people in today’s Ireland to listen to each other.

British troops line up in Dublin Castle prior to their departure after the handover to Irish authorities 100 years ago today. Picture: Independent News And Media/National Library of Ireland/Getty
British troops line up in Dublin Castle prior to their departure after the handover to Irish authorities 100 years ago today. Picture: Independent News And Media/National Library of Ireland/Getty

“As we continue to remember this period in our nation’s history, and seek to do so ethically, and with moral purpose, it is important that we conduct our remembrance in a manner that allows for such a reflection as is inclusive, open to all evidence,” he said.

Speaking at The Handover of Dublin Castle, A Centenary Conference, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said this month marks the beginning of a year of commemorative activities. He said:  

As Taoiseach I am very conscious that there is a delicate balance to be found in a free democracy between appropriate commemoration and the promotion of a fixed national narrative.

“However, this can never be allowed to become inflexible and closed to new perspectives. It must respect the fact that diverse societies allow open, reflective debate.” 

In 1922 the Examiner reported “vast crowds” at the gates of the castle to watch the Irish government taking power.

“Mr M Collins and Mr John McNeill were amongst those noticed in the first car and tremendous cheers were sent up by the waiting crowds,” the report read, adding that “a considerable portion of the crowd ran in through the gates after them”.

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