His contribution to democracy in Ireland is very considerable, as was the contribution of his father William T Cosgrave. One of the items shown on the RTÉ tribute to Liam T Cosgrave (RTÉ News 9pm October 4) showed him defending his father’s decision to authorise the execution of republican prisoners during the Civil War in 1922.
Lest we forget, these extracts from historian Diarmaid Ferriter’s book A Nation and Not a Rabble: The Irish Revolution 1913-23, describe the reality of what arguably amount to war crimes committed with the approval of William T Cosgrave.
This quote is attributed to him: “I am not going to hesitate and if the country is to live and if we have to exterminate 10,000 republicans, the three millions of our people are bigger than the 10,000.”
The National Army Council issued this order in February 1923: “In every case of outrage in any battalion area, three men will be executed... No clemency will be shown in any case.”
Ferriter writes: “By the end of the Civil War the government had authorised the execution of 77.”
Many of these “executions” were perpetrated without a proper trial.
In spite of William T Cosgrave’s substantial contribution to Irish democracy, it is wrong to gloss over these very serious crimes unjustifiably committed in the name of the Irish people.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh anam Liam T Cosgrave agus a athar William T Cosgrave.