Party member slams event at Nemo Rangers as screenings of 1996 film to also be shown around the country
The party has organised a series of commemorative events to mark the 100th anniversary of Collins’s assassination over the coming weeks, including a subsidised screening of the Neil Jordan biopic Michael Collins for party members at cinemas across the country next month and a €60-a-head four-course lunch in the Dublin hotel where some of the film was made.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and a host of senior Fine Gael figures are expected to attend the Cork Fine Gael summer barbecue tomorrow on the eve of the annual Béal na Bláth commemoration which both the Fine Gael leader and Mr Martin are due to address on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Martin has a close association to Nemo Rangers, one of Cork’s most successful GAA clubs. His son, Micheál Aodh, plays in goal for its senior team as well as at inter-county level with the Cork senior footballers.
Hundreds of party members are expected to attend the barbecue event, although one member was privately scathing of the decision to host it in the Fianna Fáil leader’s local GAA club, describing it as “an insult to Michael Collins and Fine Gael members”.
However, others said the event was proving popular. In an email to members earlier this month, Fine Gael said there were only a limited number of tickets available for the barbecue and that they were selling fast.
“This will be the largest social gathering of FG members in over two years and will be a night not to be missed,” the email said.
Any profits from the event are being donated to Marymount Hospice in Cork.
Mr Varadkar will spend the weekend in Cork and is due to address Fine Gael members in Cork South-West tonight.
The constituency has been beset by controversy in recent months after Cork county councillor Karen Coakley resigned from the party at a constituency AGM last April, claiming she had been bullied and intimidated from the start of her involvement with Fine Gael.
She was the second Fine Gael councillor to resign inside six months after another, Katie Murphy, resigned her local authority seat entirely last October, and later said she also felt bullied and intimidated within the party.
In a letter to party members, Cork South-West-based senator Tim Lombard said the meeting tonight in Dunmanway with Mr Varadkar marks the start of “building towards the next local, European, and general elections for the Fine Gael party in this constituency”.
Fine Gael is planning further events to commemorate Collins, including a €60-a-head four-course lunch at Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin next Monday. The hotel on Abbey Street was destroyed by a fire during the 1916 Rising and was also used as a location for Jordan’s film in 1996.
Party members will then be taken by bus to Glasnevin Cemetery to lay a wreath at Collins’s grave.
Fine Gael will also host screenings of Michael Collins on September 6 in Omniplex Cinemas across 19 locations throughout Ireland, with tickets at the special price of €6 each.
“For some, this will be the first opportunity for members to see the movie on the big screen so we do hope there will be great interest among our members,” Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan, the chair of the party’s Twenty-Two Commemoration Committee, said in an email to members.
“It is intended that each constituency where the film will be screened will hold a social event following the screening,” he added.
The film, which starred Liam Neeson as Collins and Julia Roberts as his fiancee Kitty Kiernan, was a box-office hit and was nominated for two Academy Awards.
However, it was criticised in some quarters for a number of historical inaccuracies and its implication that Éamon de Valera (played by Alan Rickman) was involved in the assassination of Collins on August 22, 1922.