Controversial RIC/DMP salute is postponed

Royal Irish Constabulary members pictured in Waterford in 1917


By Irish Echo Staff

A plan by the Irish government for a ceremony commemorating the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police has been postponed following widespread criticism and threat of boycotts by some political figures.

The Irish independent was reporting Friday that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was refusing to say whether he would like the controversial commemoration event to go ahead on a new date before a now anticipated general election.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

Varadkar “was reluctant to comment further on the furor surrounding the now-postponed plans for a State commemoration for the RIC and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and news that The Wolfe Tones classic 'Come Out Ye Black And Tans' has risen to number-one in the music charts off the back of the controversy,” the daily reported.

The commemoration event was due to take place in Dublin Castle on Friday, January 17, but, as the Independent further reported, was postponed “after a fierce backlash over plans to remember police forces that were reinforced by the notorious Black and Tans during the War of Independence.”

Added the report: “Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said earlier this week that he still wants to hold the event this year.

“But asked if he wanted it to happen before the Dáil election which will take place before the summer, Mr. Varadkar said: ‘No, look it, I’ve no more to say on that than I’ve already said.’

“He said he had ‘no further comment to make on commemorations’ when asked about The Wolfe Tones’ plans to donate the proceeds from their number-one song to charity the Peter McVerry Trust, who work for the homeless.”

RTE reported that the commemoration event “had drawn widespread criticism from TDs, elected representatives and members of the public. A number of ministers of state and opposition politicians had already said they would boycott the event.

“The RIC and DMP fought rebels during the 1919-1921 War of Independence. They were supplemented by the Black and Tans and 'Auxiliaries,’ who became known for their brutality, in 1920.”

The planned commemoration come under detailed criticism from Gerry Adams in his column carried in the current issue of the echo.

After the postponement Mr. Adams released a statement which stated in part: “Last week the Irish government announced a program of centenary commemorations for 1920, and the events that year which saw an escalation in the fighting between republican forces and the various British armed agencies – the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP), the Black and Tans, the Auxiliaries and the British Army. Much of the program will be centered around Cork, which witnessed many of the events of that year.

“However the decision by the government to hold a commemoration on January 17th for those who served in the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police prior to Irish independence caused a public outcry which has forced the government to announce a deferral of the commemoration.

“The attempt by the government to try and separate out the role of the RIC and DMP prior to 1919, and their actions during 1919-21 Tan War, was disingenuous and fooled no one. It ignored the role of both paramilitary forces in the nineteenth and early twentieth century in defending the British colonial system in Ireland and in the violent oppression of Irish citizens.

While there may have been some among them who wished to be police officers neither organisation was a police service. No doubt there were decent officers in their ranks and their families have the right pay tribute to them. But for the state to commemorate these organizations is wrong. Along with the

“The government must go beyond deferral and scrap any plan now or in the future to commemorate the role of the RIC and the DMP. The shallowness and opportunism of their position on these events has been exposed. So has the posturing of the Fianna Fáil Leader.

“The government’s lack of respect for the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for Irish freedom has also been highlighted. Their U turn is a great victory for people power. The widespread popular outrage at their stupidity and shoneenism is uplifting and proof yet again that the spirit of genuine patriotism and national pride is alive and well.”