Defence Forces attend 92nd Collins, Griffiths ceremony

‘What we are honouring today are the foundations of the State’ - Fitzgerald

Ministrer for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and Minister of State Simon Harris , examining the armoured car which transported the wounded Michael Collins from Béal na Bláth at the annual Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith Commemoration, at Glasnevin Cemetary, Dublin, today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Ministrer for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and Minister of State Simon Harris , examining the armoured car which transported the wounded Michael Collins from Béal na Bláth at the annual Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith Commemoration, at Glasnevin Cemetary, Dublin, today. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Sun, Aug 17, 2014, 18:33

The Defence Forces took part today for the first time in many years at the 92nd annual commemoration in Dublin’s Glassnevin cemetery to honour founders of the Free State Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins.

Mr Griffith, who died on August 12th 1922, also founded Sinn Féin and had led the Irish delegation which agreed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. General Collins, who was killed at Béal na Bláth in west Cork on August 22nd 1922, was commander in chief of the Free State army.

Among the attendance was Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Minister of State Simon Harris, Fine Gael’s candidate for the Dublin South West bye-election Senator Cáit Keane, as well as former Minister for Justice and grand-niece of Michael Collins Nora Owen.

A wreath was laid on Arthur Griffith’s grave by Dr Risteárd Mulcahy whose father Dick Mulcahy took over command of the Free State army on the death of Michael Collins. Minister Fitzgerald laid the wreath on the grave of Michael Collins.

She “welcomed the fact that they’re [Defence Forces] here today. It’s really important. When we see the challenges to democracy around the world it’s very important to come and honour, as the memorial says, the founding fathers of Irish democracy. We need to value it”.

She said “what we are honouring today are the foundations of our State...I come from a military family myself and clearly our army plays a very important role in international peace keeping, indeed peace enforcement. That’s part and parcel of what we are”.

As to whether such commemorations could be construed as honouring the physical force tradition in Irish politics she said, “not necessarily, I don’t think. Obviously the origins of any democracy vary, sometimes there is physical force involved. But I think the challenge for politicians today, and for our country and internationally, is to preserve and develop democracy against the many threats which are there. They are very significant at present”.