Stephen Collins writes in the Irish Times:
So far the decade of commemoration for the great events spanning the 1912 to 1922 period that led to Irish independence has been marked in a similar spirit or reconciliation and compromise.
The tens of thousands of Irish men who fought in the first World War have finally received due recognition and the State has even given formal recognition to the Ulster Volunteers, whose entire purpose was to block independence.
However, there is one hurdle that official Ireland still has to cross. That is some form of acknowledgement for the policemen of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police who guarded the people of this island for almost a century
Not that decisions about commemorations are always easy. A planning decision on how better to mark the site of the Kilmichael ambush prompted the latest contribution by Michael Clifford in the Examiner.
An architect employed by the West Cork Development Project did suggest that a replica of the 1920 Crossley Tender vehicle be included at the site to reference the British troops, but both us and the Kilmichael and Crossbarry Committee met and both said that we would not accept it
History records that violence was ultimately required to break free from the colonial power. But there is a big difference in commemorating the sacrifices, and glorifying military victories.
Ah but was violence really necessary? This might be the next bridge to cross – but a bridge too far perhaps?
An interesting comment on the piece posted by Mick Dolan.
The site of the Kilmichael ambush is already well marked with a monument to the dead IRA men and a stone referring the dead British as “terrorists”. I was there recently and the planning application indicated the building of walkways, which would be no bad thing as this would allow people access to the positions occupied by the IRA ambushers. It’s a pity that the developers aren’t mature enough to commemorate the dead Auxiliaries on the site. I believe there is a commemorative plaque to them in a church in Macroom. One of them who survived the ambush but was subsequently captured and killed by the IRA is buried in Inchigeela. Commemorating the dead enemies of the IRA might be a good idea, country wide but in a country which refused to honour the National Army dead of the Civil war, it seems unlikely to happen. Identifying the opposition in the War of Independence might also highlight the embarrassing fact that a sizeable proportion were Irish.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London