Wednesday 14 November 2018

War of words as the IRB is barred from Mansion House

IRB president Billy McGuire turns the Sovereign Seal Harp in the Mansion House in 2010
IRB president Billy McGuire turns the Sovereign Seal Harp in the Mansion House in 2010

Clodagh Sheehy

A ROW has erupted between Dublin's Lord Mayor and the president of the Irish Republican Brotherhood over a refusal to let the organisation use the Mansion House for the first time in decades.

Every year the organisation has held a ceremony in the Mansion House in Dublin for the "Turning of the Sovereign Seal" of Dail Eireann.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland between 1858 and 1924.

It still has a presence, particularly in the ceremonial role of turning the seal each January, and its president, Billy McGuire, is described as "Keeper of the Sovereign Seal".

The tradition has been passed down from generation to generation of the McGuires. Mr McGuire, of Askeaton, Co Limerick, performs the duty first carried out by his ancestor, Tom, in 1919.

But Mr McGuire says he is "shocked and very upset" that Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn has refused permission to use the Mansion House for the ceremony.


Mr McGuire has, in turn, accused the Lord Mayor and Dublin City Council of also trying to "airbrush" his organisation from the centenary 1916 celebrations.

The row erupted after Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn sent a letter by registered post to Mr McGuire.

The Lord Mayor said that he has been advised that, in recent years, Mr McGuire was granted permission to use the Dining Room of the Mansion House for the ceremony subject to certain conditions. "However, these conditions were not adhered to," it added.

Also, the Mansion House and the Lord Mayor of the day were not treated with the respect they were entitled to," he said in his letter to Mr McGuire.

The letter also referred to an event in Wood Quay on April 26 last year, organised by Dublin City Council.

It added: "You insisted on being allowed entry, despite not having registered for the conference and were abusive and threatening to Dublin City Council staff and conference organisers who tried to assist you."

The letter concluded that "having considered all of the above, I have decided to refuse permission for the use of the Mansion House for your ceremony", and is signed by the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Mr McGuire rejected the allegations that his group did not respect the Mansion House or the Lord Mayor of the day.

"You can ask anyone who attended that ceremony (in the Mansion House)," he said. "They were always given the greatest respect."

Irish Independent

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