RIC/Black and Tan commemoration deferred after public backlash

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has confirmed the controversial commemoration of the RIC – who included the Black and Tans as constables – has been “deferred”.

“I do not believe that the event, as planned, can now take place in an atmosphere that meets the goals and guiding principles of the overall commemorative programme,” he said.

There was a very significant backlash to the commemoration, and more than 42,000 people had signed a petition opposing the event.

As Gript reported:

The controversy arose after a government announcement on January 1st confirmed that an official state commemoration for those who served in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) would take place in Dublin Castle on January 17th and be addressed by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

The Black and Tans were recruited by the RIC as Temporary Constables during the War of Independence, and were officially known as the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve – a force established in 1919 by Winston Churchill, then the British Secretary of State for War.

They quickly earned a reputation for violence and brutality, taking part in atrocities such as Bloody Sunday, the horrific torture and murder of the two Loughnane brothers in Galway, and the burning of Ballbriggan and Cork.

The RIC were also considered a repressive force, ensuring forced evictions in the 19th century, and attacking, and in some occasions beating to death, citizens during the 1913 Lockout.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín called on the government to cancel the event.

“The front line of Britain’s war on Irish freedom and the Irish Republic was its colonial police forces, the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police,” he said.

“The notorious Black and Tans and the brutal Auxiliaries were part and parcel of the RIC’s machinery. They operated as the RIC. The Minister for Justice has claimed to have a duty to all police officers. That is patently nonsense. No Irish minister has a duty to the police forces of an imperial power,” the Meath West Deputy said.

Peadar Tóibín’s comment on the controversy can be read in full here.

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