Athlone Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, has welcomed the decision to cancel the RIC/DMP commemoration which had been scheduled to take place on January 17 in Dublin Castle.
“The initial decision by the Government to organise this commemoration was ill thought out and subsequently caused much controversy.
“If I had received an invitation to this event as Mayor of Athlone I would not have attended and I had made my views known to my colleague Cllr. Paddy Hill, Chairman of Westmeath County Council, impressing upon him not to attend,” Cllr. Keena remarked.
The Town Mayor noted the period during which the RIC, Black and Tans and the DMP attempted to stifle and suppress the democratic wishes of the Irish people through violent means should not be commemorated.
“We are all very much aware that the War of Independence resulted in a lot of killings and tortures and that the RIC and Black and Tans were instrumental in carrying out a lot of such atrocities.
Cllr. Keena spoke in detail pertaining to his family experience of this particular era of Irish history
“Numerous households in Ireland have their own stories to tell about these times. For example, I do recall my mother telling me about how the Black and Tans entered her home house one night and ransacked the place creating huge fear for my grandparents and their children.
“These people had no regard for the welfare and feelings of the people who were asleep that night in the house when they pounded on the door. Actions such as killings, torturing and the burning of homes were replicated numerous times throughout Ireland during this time.
Also during the War of Independence Cllr. Michael Burke, Athlone Urban District Council was shot and killed on Church Street outside his residence. His death resulted from indiscriminate shooting by the Black and Tans who were travelling through the town in their vehicles. Subsequently and rightly there was a massive outpouring of sympathy during his funeral,” Cllr. Keena continued.
The Town Mayor could not fathom why the Government ignored the advise afforded to them by the Expert Advisory Group in this particular instance.
“In relation to this proposed commemoration, I cannot understand why this Government ignored the advice from the Expert Advisory Group (EAG ) whose brief was to advise on the Decades of Centenaries and also to abandon the model of inclusive commemoration by liaising with all parties and none. Their action has caused an unnecessary controversy.
“It was interesting to read the comment by Diarmaid Ferriter who is a member of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG ) whereby he stated that ‘Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan misrepresented its position on a commemoration of the RIC and at no stage did the Expert Advisory Group recommend or endorse the idea of such a formal state commemoration’.
“I am very much aware that we are now entering a period of a number of historic centenary anniversaries that laid the foundation for the creation of this State and that if not commemorated appropriately will cause anger, stress and controversy. Therefore, I do feel that every expert advice plus consultation needs to be taken on board,” Mayor Keena concluded.