Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith honoured at Glasnevin ceremony
Journalist Justine McCarthy uses speech to address series of crises affecting citizens
Journalist Justine McCarthy gives the keynote address at the 97th annual Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The 97th annual commemoration was led by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan, chairman of the Collins Griffith Commemoration Society William Lavelle, and chairman of the Glasnevin Trust John Green.
One of the oldest commemorations in the State saw the raising of the national flag at the Sigerson Monument by the Defence Forces, and a wreath-laying ceremony at the graves of Gen Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith and Eamonn Duggan.
The annual oration at Collins’s graveside was given by celebrated author and journalist Justine McCarthy, who used her speech to talk about the “new Ireland”, and the issues the State faces almost 100 years after the death of both men.
She said: “What would they say about the people sleeping in the streets; the hospitals straining at near-breaking point; the communities plagued by violent gangs; the asylum-seekers who have spent years in a dehumanising direct provision system; the exorbitant and adversarial legal system that denies many citizens access to justice; the banks rescued from extinction by the citizens and that now pay no tax on their multi-billion euro profits; and a public service that fritters away billions of euro on trophy infrastructural projects, but can’t find the price of a postage stamp to notify women if they have cancer growing inside them?”
Ms McCarthy also noted the absence of women’s contributions in recorded Irish history and the wider running of the State.
“The consequences of women’s exclusion from decision-making are summed up in the catalogue of medieval horrors to which they have been subjected in the lifetime of our State,” she added before listing historical abuses of women in Ireland including those in Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes.
The ceremony also heard a reading of the Declaration of Independence of the First Dáil from John Stanton, and the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil by Seamus Scally, both of the Collins Griffith Commemoration Society.
The prayers at the graveside were led by Geraldine Dalton.
Path to independence
Ms Madigan said it was important to continue to remember the contributions made by Collins and Griffith on the path to independence.
“2019 marks the centenary of the foundation of Dáil Éireann, one of the most significant events in the Decade of Centenaries,” she said.
“We recall the immense contribution that both men made as members of the Dáil and the cabinet.
“Today’s commemoration provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon that contribution to our enduring parliamentary tradition.”
Following the wreath-laying ceremony and readings, a minute’s silence was held, followed by the sounding of the Last Post and Reveille.
The Defence Forces also participated in the commemoration ceremony, with the Sliabh na mBan armoured car on display.
The Sliabh na mBan formed part of Collins’s convoy which was ambushed on August 22nd, 1922, at Béal na mBláth in West Cork, resulting in his death. – PA