RIC commemoration a step too far for peace process

As we approach a number of centenary commemorations over the next few years, most especially the 1916 Easter Rising, the 1918 General Election and the First Dáil Éireann in 1919, calls have been made to be as inclusive as possible as we remember these, and other events, in which citizens died.

I agree.

I believe in the political ecumenism which has been generated following the Good Friday Agreement. However, the call by some retired members of the Garda Siochána, (Letters, Aug 24) indicating their intention to mark the ending of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and to commemorate all police officers killed during the War of Independence at Glasnevin Cemetery, is carrying political ecumenism a step too far.

One cannot honour the RIC without also honouring the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries who were an integral element of policing in Ireland during 1919-1922.

To do so would be a considered affront to all who suffered appalling abuses from this group of uniformed thugs in the service of the Crown.

It was the Royal Irish Constabulary who fired indiscriminately into the crowd in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday in 1920 killing 13 innocent spectators and the Tipperary team captain Michael Hogan.

They were the armed colonial police force tasked with enforcing British rule in Ireland despite their massive rejection by the electorate in the 1918 General Election, an event which subsequently rendered this force unlawful.

Why would retired gardaí wish to stand in slavish obsequiousness to those members of the RIC and Black and Tans who sacked and burned more than 300 buildings in Cork City in an act of reprisal for the killing of one ‘Tan’ in 1921, the burning of Balbriggan and Trim towns, and numerous other atrocities? Even the commander of this undisciplined group of vile thugs, General Frank Crozier, resigned in protest at the deployment of these men.

The standards, ethos and policing values of An Garda Síochána are anathema and repugnant to what the Black and Tans stood for. To commemorate those groups who masqueraded as police in Ireland during the War of Independence is tantamount to the people of Warsaw commemorating the SS. Shame on those who proposed this memorial and on those who champion their cause, and further shame on those of us who allow it to prosper.

Tom Cooper


Dublin 16

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