Heroes and villains: have we got them the mixed up?

THE decision by Enniscorthy Town Council to approve the erection of a memorial in the town to commemorate the Edentubber Martyrs is a courageous one which I support.

These five young men were killed when a landmine they were transporting to the border went off prematurely during the border campaign in 1957.

Understandably, the decision has angered some. Colm Lauder, (Letters, January 29), in expressing his disapproval at such a commemoration in Enniscorthy, appears to adopt double standards. I do not recollect any expressions of outrage from Mr Lauder when Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council re-erected the memorial fountain to Queen Victoria in Dún Laoghaire harbour in 2003. Queen Victoria was Ireland’s reigning monarch when more than three million people either died of starvation during a time of abundance or left Ireland in coffin ships to escape destitution. Records of the time clearly show that huge shipments of food were exported to Britain and the empire.

Nor do I recollect any objections from Mr Lauder when Cork County Council sanctioned the erection of a memorial to the English pirate and slave trader Sir Francis Drake in Carrigaline in 2005. In what can only be described as a bizarre event, a government minister and a detachment of the Irish naval service were in attendance to honour Drake who had been responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of Catholics on Rathlin Island off the Antrim coast in 1575. In 2004, Mr Lauder was also silent when a memorial to Sgt Major Cornelius Coughlan was unveiled in Co Mayo. Sgt Coughlan, a British soldier of the Gordon Highlanders, was honoured for his role in putting down the so-called Indian Mutiny in 1857. During the military campaign that followed that mutiny, Irish soldiers in British uniforms fought people who were not their enemy on behalf of those who were.

It seem Irishmen who died fighting for imperial Britain merit public commemoration, yet those like the Edentubber Martyrs who died fighting to free Ireland from colonialism are to be criminalised.

Tom Cooper

Delaford Lawn


Dublin 16

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