Black and Tans event: Anger is growing

State commemoration of RIC

Black and Tans event: Anger is growing

The controversial Black and Tans were despised throughout Ireland

As anger grows at plans to commemorate those who served in the RIC and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, Donegal County Council is still undecided as to whether it will send a representative to the event.

Both groups were disbanded in 1922 following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Controversy arose following a Government announcement on January 1 which confirmed that an official state commemoration for those who served in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) would take place in Dublin Castle on January 17.

The event will be addressed by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, but it has not met with universal approval.

Council cathaoirleach, Cllr Nicholas Crossan has confirmed he will not be attending but was unsure whether a replacement would go in his place.

“I am already committed to another event on that date and will not be able to go. I am not sure if anyone will be going, the invitation was for the cathaoirleach only.”

He admitted several councillors and members of the public had been contacting him about attending and he was still considering whether to call a special council meeting to debate the matter this week.

The Black and Tans were recruited by the RIC as Temporary Constables during the War of Independence, and were officially known as the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve – a force established in 1919 by Winston Churchill, then the British Secretary of State for War.

They quickly earned a reputation for violence and brutality, taking part in atrocities such as Bloody Sunday, as well as horrific torture and murder all over the country including Donegal.

Independent councillor Micheal Choilm Mac Giolla Easbuig has slammed the event.
“To commemorate a police force with an intolerable record of barbarism is something that could only happen in an Irish state governed by Fine Gael sitting with its coalition allies and propped up by a hapless Fianna Fáil,” he said.

“This was the force that implemented what Flanagan sees as upholding ‘the rule of law while doing their duty’ by overseeing the export of food from Ireland during the Great Hunger when over a million died of starvation.

He added: “This was the force that supervised the eviction of thousands of impoverished people from their humble homes. Think only of one incident among many, of that here in Donegal in Derryveagh. Between April 11 and 13, 1861, a ‘crowbar brigade’, helped by RIC and British soldiers, evicted over 250 people, most of whom became destitute on the roads or inside the workhouse.

“Perhaps Charlie Flanagan and Fine Gael believe that by whitewashing the record of the RIC and the Black and Tans that they can do the same with atrocities carried out by their Cumann na nGael predecessors during the Civil War.

“Whatever their reason, it is totally unacceptable and the people of Ireland must let them know this,” he said.

His comments were supported by Sinn Féin councillor, Jack Murray, who agreed this commemoration was not high on anyone’s list of priorities.

He also criticised the holding of such an event saying from conversations he had over the past few days, the idea had no support whatsoever among the general public.

“Could you imagine the British Government holding a commemoration for the IRA in London, it’s the same thing,” he said.

“I don't think Donegal County Council should be represented at this event and as a member of the council, I don’t want it to represent me at such a commemoration,” he said.

He added if there was a special meeting to be held on the issue, Sinn Féin would support it.

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