The Irish Times - Friday, August 31, 2012

Marking the end of the RIC

Peter Mulvany (August 25th), in response to my letter of August 23rd, in which I opposed the retired gardaí commemoration for members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, wrote, “There are many Irish citizens who have a British dimension to their Irishness and vice versa; and no doubt there are members of the Garda who may have family links with the former RIC who feel it is their duty to remember the fallen.”

I am an Irish citizen with not just a British dimension to my Irishness but also a Protestant dimension to my faith.

This does not mean that I feel duty bound to condone, justify, defend or associate myself with the behaviour of the RIC or their colleagues in the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries. I believe that the sole criteria to influence our morality, ethics, values and standards is right and wrong, not political, religious or family associations.


(Cathaoirleach - INC)


The Irish Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marking the end of the RIC

Piaras Béaslaí, in his biography of his friend, Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland (1926), describes the nature of the Royal Irish Constabulary for the benefit of the foreign reader: “The RIC were a military force, armed with rifles and living in barracks. Their primary and essential purpose was to hold the country in subjection to England.

“In furtherance of this aim, the force was kept at a strength out of all proportion to the requirements of a normal police force. In districts where crime was practically unknown ... barracks full of strapping young men, armed with rifles, were maintained at the expense of the people of Ireland. Every village had its barracks, with its garrison holding the post for England, and dominating the countryside.” As to their main activity, “spying on the people”, Béaslaí quotes Augustine Birrell’s evidence to the Royal Commission on the Insurrection of 1916: “We have the reports of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who send us in, almost daily, reports from almost every district in Ireland, and I have them under the microscope.”

That force cannot be equated with the Garda Síochána.


An Leabharlann Dlí,

Baile Átha Cliath.



The Irish Times - Thursday, August 23, 2012

Marking the end of the RIC

As we approach a number of centenary commemorations over the next few years, most especially the 1916 Easter Rising and the First Dáil Éireann in 1919, it is not unexpected that there would be calls to commemorate other events during that period which resulted in loss of lives. This is not unreasonable. However, the call by two members of the Retired Garda Síochána Members Association, (Letters, August 22nd) indicating their intention to mark the ending of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police and to commemorate all police officers killed during the War of Independence at a gathering in Glasnevin Cemetery, is carrying political ecumenism a step too far.

One cannot honour the RIC without also honouring the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries who were an integral element of policing in Ireland during the 1919-1922 period. To do so would be a considered an affront to all who suffered appalling abuses from this group of uniformed thugs.

It should not be forgotten that it was the Royal Irish Constabulary who fired indiscriminately into the crowd in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday in 1920 killing 13 innocent spectators and the Tipperary football team captain Michael Hogan. They were the armed colonial police force tasked with brutally enforcing British rule in Ireland despite the massive rejection of this rule by the electorate in the 1918 general election, an event which subsequently rendered this force unlawful.

Why would the Retired Garda Síochána Members Association wish to stand in slavish obsequiousness to those members of the Black and Tans who sacked and burned more than 300 buildings in Cork city in an act of reprisal for the killing of one “Tan” in 1921, the burning of Balbriggan and Trim towns, and numerous other atrocities? This unruly mob displayed an absolute indifference to civilised policing. Even their commander, Gen Frank Crozier, resigned in protest at the deployment of these men.


(Cathaoirleach – INC)