Michael Collins would have “empathized with the bravery and courage” of the late Brian Lenihan, attendees at the annual Béal na mBláth commemoration in Cork this past weekend were told.
The former Fianna Fáil minister, who died in June aged 52, made history last August when he became the first figure in the party to deliver the keynote oration at the annual Collins commemoration.
On Sunday, the oration was delivered by Dr. Edward Walsh, the founding president of the University of Limerick. Walsh said his predecessor as orator was “a man of courage, ability, energy and integrity.”
“Collins would have joined with us in mourning an untimely death,” he said.
“He would have recognized Lenihan’s unrelenting commitment to his public duties and to Ireland, while knowing his own chances of survival were slim, and most likely he would shortly die. Let us pause in memory of two fine Irishmen who met untimely deaths – Brian Lenihan and Michael Collins.”
Speaking at the 2010 commemoration, Lenihan had called on all in public life to let the spirit of Michael Collins inspire them through the economic crisis.
Dr. Walsh told the 1,000-plus people who attended this year that the dire crisis in which Ireland found itself and the “opportunist way in which the strong took advantage of the weak,” would certainly be on Collins’s mind if he was here today.
Dr. Walsh claimed Collins would be anticipating the skirmishes that lie ahead and thinking of how best to secure bargaining chips that a small state might use in facing down major European powers, and also claimed joining the euro in 1999 was a serious mistake.
“Ireland entered and lost control of the two vital monetary instruments – setting interest rates and setting currency exchange rates. Had Ireland remained outside the euro, its bankers would not have gained access to the euro zone’s vast and low-interest borrowing opportunities.
“Without the outlandish credit available within the euro zone, the building bubble, the resultant government tax windfalls and Ahern’s, McCreevy’s and Cowen’s spending splurge would have been impossible. The country would not now be in receivership,” he said, referring to three Fianna Fáil finance ministers who had preceded Lenihan.