Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
I’m really thinking of setting up a regular “Only In Ireland” series here at An Sionnach Fionn, just so I can take into account the madness, the sheer schizophrenic, self-hating insanity of the colonial mindset in Ireland. For only in Ireland could one come across a shameless rewriting of history of the type presented by Jim Cusack, the Security Correspondent(!) of the Irish Independent newspaper, today. Be warned. You may want to hold your nose before reading this:
“RETIRED Gardaí are seeking permission from the Government to erect a monument in Glasnevin Cemetery to 500 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, including the ‘Black and Tans’, who were killed by the IRA in the War of Independence.
The Garda Siochana Retired Members Association has written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter seeking the go-ahead to erect a monument in an existing plot in the cemetery, which is famous for its links to 1916 and the War of Independence.
Retired Garda Pat McCarthy, who has headed the campaign to have the RIC commemorated, said the time had come for the State to recognise all who were killed in the War of Independence.”
Yes, that’s right. You really did just read that. Members of An Garda Síochána, the democratically-mandated, unarmed civilian police service of Ireland, want to erect a monument to the members of an anti-democratic, armed paramilitary police force which upheld and enforced colonial rule in Ireland for decades.
The fact that most (but not all) of those RIC members were born on the island of Ireland does not give them a get out of jail free card (no pun intended). Nor do pleas about the dire economic times they lived in, or loyalty to the existing order, or following family traditions or that they were simply doing their job serve as an excuse either. If those were legitimate reasons for the most heinous of crimes then those who collaborated with the Axis Forces in Occupied Europe, or those who wrought murder and mayhem in the Balkans at the turn of the century are just as innocent and just as worthy of commemoration. Should someone phone up the Hague? All those war criminals you’ve got under lock and key: let them go. They were just following orders.
How familiar a call is that?
Be under no illusions. The RIC officers who served in Ireland during the War of Independence followed their orders. And those orders meant burned villages and towns, assassinations and executions, tortured men and women (and sexually assaulted and raped women. Yes, the British Forces – RIC included – raped Irish women and girls during the conflict in untold numbers), orphaned children, refugees and all the horrifying theatre of colonial warfare. The brutality of the British Forces was not simply the infamous “Black and Tans”, or “Auxies”, or regular British “Tommies”. It was not simply British men in British uniforms. It was Irish men in British uniforms. Many, many of whom believed themselves to be as British as anyone born in Britain. These were the RIC. The real RIC. They were not harmless country policemen: big red faces and big red hands, cycling to mass, a friendly clip around the ear for errant waifs and a sing-song in the local pub. They were the eyes and ears and willing hands of the British Empire.
The men and women of the Irish Revolution were hard people capable of hard deeds. Where do we think they came from? And who the hell do we think made them like that? Ask the RIC. They could have told you. From famine to insurrection, they were there. The British boot on the neck of the Irish people.
As someone who comes from a “Garda family”, my relatives look to Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Irish Republican Army and the Irish Republican Police for their origins, and are incredibly proud of that inheritance. They see no line of succession between themselves and the Royal Irish Constabulary and would reject any such claim. Perhaps those who claim otherwise have different loyalties? And agendas?
“The Irish Independent columnist and historian Kevin Myers said: “There is this mystique about flying columns of IRA men fighting the British army, but for the most part the killing was of RIC men, some coming out of Mass or in front of their families when off-duty.
“Many were killed on patrol and always in ambushes, where 20 or 30 IRA men were involved in killing these policemen, who were alone or in two-man patrols.”
He agreed that they should be remembered.”
I’m sure he did. Kevin Myers, the “historian” of Irish counter-history.
Next week the Waffen SS. Overeager social workers and town planners or mass murderers and war criminals? You decide.