Did Britain surrender Dublin Castle to Irish Revolutionaries in January 1922 or did Irish Revolutionaries surrender to Dublin Castle?
by Donal Kennedy – (From January 3, 2017)
The question has a new lease of life as Dublin Castle prepares to open a Garda Museum in the new year with an exhibition of weapons and equipment used by the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Apparently today’s Garda Siochana believes itself to have taken over the functions of those forces.
I remember a neighbour in Howth, a former Superintendent in the Gardai whose service to Ireland started in the Irish Republican Brotherhood.Fifty years before the IRB’s work flowered in the 1916 Rising and the struggle which gave the Bums’ Rush to the Crown’s forces from most of Ireland, the IRISH CONSTABULARY were given the “ROYAL” accolade for their part in the suppression of the IRB’s “Fenian” Rising of 1867. Before his conversion to British warmongering, Tom Kettle in his maiden speech in the House of Commons called for Dublin ratepayers to be relieved of the burden of financing the DMP and for their financing to be a charge on the Imperial WarOffice.As Kettle publicly associated (in New York) with Fenians who had smashed the prison van in Manchester and with the old dynamitard O’Donovan Rossa, the DMP were regarded as legitimate targets by Redmondite MPs.
I remember a serving Garda in Howth who had been an IRA internee on the prison ship ARGENTA in Belfast in the 1920s and children of Gardai who had been in the IRA. How anyone other than a Dissident Republican could bracket the Gardai with the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police I cannot imagine, but apparently some ex-Gardai and some serving ones appear to do so.
This is not to depict all RIC and DMP men as bad, or all Gardai as good. But the function of the RIC and DMP forces was to serve the British Crown and those who established and manned the Gardai aimed to serve the Irish people.
The RIC were the eyes and ears of the British Government in Ireland as Michael Collins recalled in the last weeks of his life and it was necessary to destroy those capacities. The Civic Guard which he was establishing was an unarmed body unlike “the armed military police” of the RIC. It was to be a People’s Police Service. By and large it served the Irish people well and if it can be reminded of its origins it should continue to do so.
But if it should forget its origins and try to emulate the RIC it might deserve the ostracism demanded for that body by Dail Eireann in 1919 and other unpleasant consequences.