The Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Justice & Equality, Martin Conway, has called on the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, to clarify the Party’s policy on commemoration.
His call follows announcements by three Fianna Fáil Mayors (Dublin, Cork and Clare) that they would boycott a Decade of Centenaries commemoration of the place of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police in Irish History.
The event has been organised by the Government, on the advice of the Expert Advisory Group which is comprised of prominent historians.
Senator Conway said, “While there will always be differing allegiances in commemorating Irish history, up until now Fianna Fáil has supported the wide diversity of events that the Government has commemorated as part of the Decade of Centenaries. Indeed the then Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Darragh O’Brien, was present at a State event in 2016 when commemorated the British soldiers killed in the 1916 Rising.
“At that time Deputy O’Brien described the Sinn Féin decision to boycott that event as ‘very sad and pathetic’. Now it appears that Fianna Fáil has embraced the policy of boycotting Centenary commemorations and this is a very sad and retrograde step.
“It’s important that Micheál Martin, as Party leader, now comes out to clarify Fianna Fáil policy. The party’s record of commemoration during its time in Government over many years showed a strong tendency to put party above country.
“Fine Gael, by contrast, has ensured that the Decade of Centenaries has respected the multiple traditions and complex histories of the people of this island. It’s now emerging that Fianna Fáil, if given the chance, would again manipulate Irish history for political gain. This is an ominous development given the sensitive centenaries in our future including Partition and the Civil War – both of which will be particularly sensitive, including in Northern Ireland.
“In Government, Fine Gael has worked hard to ensure that Ireland is a country where different traditions are acknowledged and respected. I am appalled by Fianna Fáil’s attitude to proposals to commemorate the Dublin Metropolitan Policy and the Royal Irish Constabulary, given the thousands of Irish people whose ancestors served in these organisations, many with distinction.
“Their approach is divisive and regressive, re-opening old wounds, rather than encouraging understanding and reconciliation. It’s time Deputy Martin came out and provided some leadership on these sensitive issues,” Senator Conway concluded.