Mr Cooper maintains that it is impossible to differentiate between ordinary RIC members and members of the aforementioned forces — or to commemorate one without commemorating the other. However, even the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921 made that differentiation.
In Article 10 it states: The Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation ... to judges, officials, members of police forces and other public servants who are discharged by it, or who retire in consequence of the change of Government effected in pursuance hereof.
Provided that this agreement shall not apply to members of the Auxiliary Police Force or to persons recruited in Great Britain for the Royal Irish Constabulary during the two years next preceding the date hereof.
The British Government will assume responsibility for such compensation or pensions as may be payable to any of these excepted persons.
This would indicate an acceptance on both sides that members of the established force of RIC were different to the Auxiliaries and Black and Tans who followed later. Surely, almost 95 years on – we can acknowledge the loss to the families of such men as Constables James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell — killed in the Solohead Ambush in 1919 — Irishmen who were guilty of no more than being in the wrong uniform, in the wrong place, at the wrong time?