Sunday 21 July 2019

Politics 'should look to Collins'

The General Michael Collins monument unveiled on the anniversary of his death at Cathal Brugha Barracks
The General Michael Collins monument unveiled on the anniversary of his death at Cathal Brugha Barracks

Ireland's political system should be overhauled to reflect the true ideals of revolutionary leader Michael Collins, it has been claimed.

Giving the landmark address at the 91st annual commemoration for "the Big Fella" at Beal na mBlath in west Cork, veteran broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy said politicians should pay tribute with new ideas and a "sea-change".

Mr O'Herlihy, a strong Fine Gael supporter and adviser to former taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, called for the party to join forces with Fianna Fail.

"I believe coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail has much to offer at a time of huge challenge for Ireland," Mr O'Herlihy said.

"I suspect the Irish people would like to see this development. I would like to see this development in a new political landscape true to the ideals of Collins."

The RTE presenter and Cork native followed in the footsteps of Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who gave the speech marking the 90th anniversary of Collins' death last year.

He described army general Collins as "a great man, a nation-builder, a visionary, a deep thinker about the future of Ireland", claiming his ambition and aspiration is still unmet.

Collins, who was minister for finance in the first Dail of 1919, was killed in an ambush during the Civil War in 1922.

Prayers were said today at the spot in Beal na mBlath where he was gunned down, as Mr O'Herlihy paid tribute to his "passion for change".

He said the revolutionary leader was proud of "the spirit of the people", but that the "indifferent and complaisant" individuals responsible for Ireland's banking collapse would have got "very short shrift" from him.

"We pay tribute to Collins while knowing that we can only make him proud of our generation only by being smart, creative and honest and that we are realistic enough to know where we have blundered," he added.

Last week, Irish troops funded and erected a memorial to Collins at the barracks he set off from on the day he was ambushed.

The black marble monument was unveiled at Cathal Brugha Barracks, in the same spot where one of the most iconic photographs of the general was taken two weeks before he was shot dead.

The tri-colour hung at half-mast during the poignant ceremony, where a wreath was laid by Collins' grandniece Helen Collins.

Ms Collins, from Cork, said it meant so much to her that soldiers, and not the state, had collected money to pay for the memorial, which cost 1,200 euro (£1,000).

PA Media

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