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Sunday 26 February 2017

Unofficial ceremony for RIC dead at Glasnevin Cemetery

Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

An unofficial and low-key ceremony looks set to take place in Glasnevin Cemetery next weekend to commemorate the 493 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary killed during the War of Independence.

There are no plans to recognise the 90th anniversary of the disbandment of the RIC in 1922 in any formal State- supported commemoration although there are a series of official events connected to political and IRA figures.

A number of retired gardai along with the Royal Ulster Constabulary George Cross Foundation, whose patron is Prince Charles, sought permission earlier this year to formally commemorate the anniversary of the disbandment with an ecumenical service at the cemetery. Despite not getting official approval, the group decided to go ahead with the ceremony.

However, the proposal has caused some controversy among those who object to the fact that such a memorial would commemorate the RIC Auxiliary force, the so-called "Black and Tans", whose involvement in unofficial reprisals against the IRA still has emotional resonances among nationalists.

A spokesman for Glasnevin Cemetery said that they had "no information and have given no approval" for an event to commemorate the 493 policemen, mostly Irish Catholics, who were killed in the War of Independence.

Two years ago the Garda Siochana Retired Members Association adopted a motion at its annual conference to specifically commemorate the disbandment of the RIC. Talks had taken place with the RUC's retired members' association and, it is understood, with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the British government's Home Office which has responsibility for the upkeep of the RIC plots in Glasnevin Cemetery.

However, the retired garda association's president, retired chief superintendent Gerry Blake said: "I am not aware of anything. It would not be up for us to organise it. That would be for Foreign Affairs or the British government who own the plot," he told the Sunday Independent earlier this summer.

The association adopted a motion at its annual delegate meeting in 2010 stating: "That the ADM directs the central committee to use all the means and influence at its disposal to have a monument or plaque erected at a suitable site in the Republic of Ireland to commemorate the 493 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who lost their lives between 1st January 1, 1919, and June 30, 1922."

Some retired gardai proposed erecting a commemorative marble headstones bearing the names of all the RIC members who have otherwise been written out of the official history of the Republic.

Sunday Independent

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