*Cllr Cathal Crowe. Photograph: Eamon Ward
Mayor of Clare, Cllr Cathal Crowe (FF) is to boycott next Friday’s national commemoration service for the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC).
Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan extended invitation to the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council and equivalents throughout the country. Crowe who completed a Bachelor of Arts in history, politics, sociology and social studies at the University of Limerick stated, “In the main, I think all of the government’s state commemorations have been apt and tasteful but I see the commemoration of the RIC as a step too far”.
In a statement to The Clare Echo, the General Election candidate outlined, “I don’t hold any ill feeling towards the individual men who served in the RIC Division of Clare, many of them were decent people who were guided by the their strong civic and law-abiding principles. I do however think it’s wrong to celebrate and eulogise an organisation that was the strong-arm of the British state in Ireland. The RIC joined army and auxiliaries in search parties and raids that resulted in our country-people being killed or tortured or having their homes torched”.
An Garda Síochána’s involvement also annoyed the Meelick man. “A further issue I have with the state commemoration is that An Garda Síochána will be central to the entire event. The guards have my full and utmost respect but I don’t believe that historically or ethically they should seek to claim any form of descent from the RIC. The Irish defence forces see themselves as a totally distinct organisation from the British army”.
Crowe who is a committee member of a War of Independence commemorate committee in Meelick-Parteen concluded, “I honestly believe that Ireland, her government and her people have thus far sensitively commemorated all of the seminal events of the Decade of Centenaries but commemorating the RIC is definitively an overstretch. It’s also historical revisionism gone too far”.
Subsequently, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr John Sheehan (FF) and the Mayor of Galway, Cllr Mike Cubbard (IND) have announced they will also be boycotting the commemoration.
Speaking on Monday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) labelled their decision as “regrettable”. He said, “I am disappointed to hear some people are going to boycott the event, I think it is regrettable. I remember ten or fifteen years ago it was very controversial to commemorate the deaths of soldiers in World War 1 because some people felt they shouldn’t be remembered because they fought for the United Kingdom and the British, that has changed, almost all people think it is right and proper to honour soldiers who died in World War and I think the same applies to police officers who are killed, Catholic and Protestant alike many of whose families are still alive, I think it is a shame people are boycotting it but the Government stands over the decision to host it”.