RIC commemoration set for London as ‘no appetite’ in Ireland

Memorial service in St Paul’s Cathedral will mark 100 years since Royal Irish Constabulary disbanded

RIC officers wait at a train station, possibly Clontarf in Dublin.

RIC officers wait at a train station, possibly Clontarf in Dublin.

 

A memorial service to mark a century since the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) will be held in London because there is “no appetite” for it to be held in Ireland, one of the organisers has said.

The event will be held on April 29th next year in St Paul’s Cathedral London. The RIC was disbanded in 1922 after independence and replaced by the Civic Guard which became An Garda Síochána in 1923.

The event will be for the relatives of the 83,743 officers and men of the RIC who served in the force from its inception in 1836 to disbandment in 1922.

The main focus will be on those who died in the service. Of the 638 men who died on duty, some 555 were killed in the War of Independence – including at least 152 Black and Tans and 44 Auxiliaries who were recruited as temporary constables to take on the IRA.

The memorial service is being organised by the Police Roll of Honour Trust, which has Prince Charles as its patron.

The trust was founded in 2000 to pay tribute to 5,000 British police officers who have been killed or died since the first recorded death on duty of policeman in 1680.

Former garda and RIC historian Jim Herlihy has been co-opted to the trust to organise the event.

He said it would be impossible to hold it in Ireland following the furore over the abandoned memorial event that was supposed to have been held in Dublin Castle in January last year.

“People are not listening to any kind of reason at all. All the flak that I got over this [the event in Dublin Castle] was ridiculous,” he said.

That event, which was due to be held on January 17th, 2020, was organised by then minister for justice Charlie Flanagan, but it did not go ahead as many believed it sought to honour the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries who fought against the IRA in the War of Independence. Mr Flanagan denied that was ever his intention.

Mr Herlihy said St Paul’s Cathedral was chosen for security purposes and in anticipation of a big crowd, and also because it is one of only two sites where there are memorials to the RIC.

Both memorials are in the London. The first was unveiled in St Paul’s in 1933. The second is in the Catholic Westminster Cathedral.

He said it is likely Prince Charles, as the patron of the trust, will be asked to attend, along with representatives of the Irish and British governments.

People who wish to attend have been invited by the organisers to email them at: ricevent@rollofhonour.police.uk