RIC men were not heroes

When I was a teenager, the recruiting advertisements for Oglaigh na hEireann (Parkgate Street) invoked heroes from the days of Fionn MacCumhal, Brian Boru, through to the IRA of 1916-1921.

The message was that the State’s Army was the Continuity IRA. Ministers of Defence Oscar Traynor and Sean MacEoin and Ministers of Education Dick Mulcahy and Sean Moylan were all IRA heroes.

Indeed in 1922 Mulcahy assured comrades wary of the army section answering to the Provisional Government and paid by it, that it would continue to be the Irish Republican Army. When I joined the part-time FCA Reserve I believed I was joining the Continuity IRA. Our cap badge and buttons were identical to those worn by the Irish Volunteer insurgents of 1916. The Garda Síochána were not generally seen as a continuation of the RIC, nor of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Tom Kettle, the Home Rule MP who was to die serving in the British Army in Flanders, was clear about the function of the DMP. In his maiden speech in the House of Commons he said that the DMP should not be paid for by the ratepayers of Dublin, but by the British War Office.

The DMP’s “G” Division had long been infamous as an agent of espionage and repression, and was eventually neutralised by infiltration or elimination by the forces of Irish democracy. The role of the RIC was defined by the Chief Secretary for Ireland in London’s House of Commons in Mar 1919. It was a “semi- military body, under the direct control of the Crown, under much the same conditions as the army and navy forces.”

Patrick McCarthy and Gerard Lovett, retired gardaí, (Letters Aug 24) appear to believe that the force they served was but a continuation of the RIC and DMP. They say they sought, so far in vain, for official (Irish) state commemoration of the “over 500 police officers who were murdered by the IRA during and after the War of Independence and in 1916.”

They claim, disingenuously, that the point of their memorial is not to denigrate the role of the IRA and others in 1916 and 1922, but to mark the lives and deaths of the policemen who suffered and died for doing their duty.

It beggars belief that two men whose professional careers were spent in the service of a sovereign democratic Irish state can so confuse their role with that of forces whose role was to crush the movements for democracy and sovereignty in Ireland.

Donal Kennedy

Palmers Green

London

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