Civil War commemoration will ‘finally heal the wounds and scars from that time’ — Varadkar

New Taoiseach says it is time to ‘finally move to reconciliation’ during acceptance speech in Dáil

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said events will be held next year to bring an end to 100 years of hurt over the Civil War.

In his acceptance speech in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar acknowledged that more will have to be done to remember the atrocities carried out by pro- and anti-treaty sides during the war.

He said he would work with Minister Catherine Martin and the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations to find an “appropriate way of ending a century of hurt on pro- and anti-treaty sides and allowing us to finally move to reconciliation”.

His remarks would suggest that a low-profile event in the National Concert Hall in September, which was supposed to be the only State commemoration to remember the Civil War dead, was not adequate.


“As a State we need to acknowledge and atone for the wrongs that were done on all sides, so we can finally heal the wounds and scars from that time,” he said.

In a speech to mark the centenary of the coming into being of the foundation of the State, Mr Varadkar acknowledged that the execution of four republican prisoners on December 8th, 1922 was “unconstitutional”.

Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows, Dick Barrett and Joe McKelvey were executed without trial by the Free State Government as an act of vengeance for the assassination by the anti-Treaty side of the TD Sean Hales on December 7th, a day after the State came into being.

Mr Varadkar’s Government is also expected to mark a centenary of Ireland being admitted into the League of Nations. The Irish Free State was admitted in September 1923.

The Expert Advisory Group has stated that a date in September next year would be the best time to mark the centenary of the State rather than on December 6th this year which is in the middle of the Civil War centenaries.

“It was the fulfilment of a dream that inspired generations of patriots and marks a fitting end to the decade of centenaries,” he said.

“The final Secretary General of the League of Nations was an Irish diplomat, Seán Lester. A courageous friend of refugees, Lester should inspire us to show courage and initiative in how we welcome refugees today.

“We are living through a time of conflict and crisis, where the brutal aggression of a world power against its smaller neighbour has made history itself pause in uncertainty.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times