'What he said wasn't said in my name' - Cork TD hits out at Taoiseach's remarks on Civil War killings

In the Dail, Mr Martin was responding to Cork South West TD Christopher O’Sullivan who described the executions of the four men as 'unlawful'
'What he said wasn't said in my name' - Cork TD hits out at Taoiseach's remarks on Civil War killings

Dick Barrett, Joe McKelvey, Rory O'Connor and Liam Mellows. Pictures: Irish Examiner Archive

It may have been 100 years ago, but the bitterness of the Irish Civil War continues to play out between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Taoiseach Micheàl Martin’s description as murder the killing of four young IRA men 100 years ago has been sharply criticised by a former Fine Gael cabinet minister.

The executions of Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and Dick Barrett 100 years ago were unlawful and amounted to murder, Mr Martin said.

Speaking in the Dàil, Mr Martin said: “What happened to those four young men at that time was not in accordance with the law. As I said, it represented murder.” 

However, at Wednesday night’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, Cork North West TD and former Agriculture Minister Michael Creed hit out at Mr Martin’s comments.

“What he said was not said in my name,” Mr Creed sharply stated, according to sources.

In the Dail, Mr Martin was responding to Cork South West TD Christopher O’Sullivan who described the executions of the four men as “unlawful”.

“Tomorrow marks 100 years since the unlawful executions of Liam Mellows, Rory O'Connor, Joe McKelvey and one of west Cork's greatest sons, Dick Barrett,” he said.

"They were executed without trial or charge by the order of the Executive of the newly formed Free State Government," he added.

Mr O'Sullivan said the executions were carried out as a reprisal for the sad and tragic killing of Deputy Seán Hales; a killing which these four men had no hand, act or part in. 

The event was described in a Dáil debate 100 years ago as, "Murder most foul, bloody and unnatural", he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said the state has never acknowledged that these killings were illegal or wrong.

“The Taoiseach himself has said that these killings were murder by any definition. 

"Today, almost 100 years since those executions, I ask that the Government finally acknowledge that these killings were manifestly illegal and wrong,” he said.

Mr Martin said through the decade of centenaries, as a country, we have managed to remember, enlighten and give a greater, more informed perspective to our difficult and traumatic past, particularly at the time of the formation of the new State.

The murder of Seán Hales was a terrible crime, objectively, not from now looking back on the past, Mr Martin said.

“What happened to those four young men at that time was not in accordance with the law. As I said, it represented murder,” he said.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Michael Creed said he thought it was "entirely inappropriate” ahead of a commemoration event for Deputy O’Sullivan to look for the Taoiseach to acknowledge the killings of four men as murder, when Mr O’Sullivan referred to the killing of Seán Hales as tragic and sad.

Mr Creed said: “I think it was a step too far and I think it was unfortunate to look for equivalence.”

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