Varadkar acknowledges role West Cork played in the fight for Irish freedom

Taoiseach calls for honesty and inclusiveness during War of Independence and Civil War commemorations

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Government intended to let local groups take the lead in marking events of the period. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Government intended to let local groups take the lead in marking events of the period. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called for honesty and inclusiveness in commemorating the centenary of various events during the War of Independence and the Civil War, including the killing of 13 Protestants around Dunmanway during the Truce.

Mr Varadkar said Government intends to let local groups take the lead in marking events of the period and he hoped they would be inclusive and respectful, as he said had happened on the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Speaking during a visit to West Cork where he visited Dunmanway, the home of IRB man and Protestant nationalist Sam Maguire, and Drinagh, the home of Sean Hurley who died in the Easter Rising, Mr Varadkar acknowledged the role West Cork played in the fight for Irish freedom.

“The events in West Cork shaped Irish history. A large chapter in the story of our struggle for independence was written by the people of West Cork. The names of Charlie Hurley, Liam Deasy, Tom Barry, the Hales brothers and, of course, Michael Collins, are well known to all of us.”

Mr Varadkar said that they were many others from West Cork who played pivotal roles in both conflicts, but perhaps the story of Sean and Tom Hales most exemplified the tragedy when they ended up fighting on opposite sides in the Civil War.

And then to add to the tragedy there were the events of April 1922 around Dunmanway when, during the Truce but before the outbreak of the Civil War, 13 Protestants, including teenage boys, were shot dead over the course of three nights, he said.

“We must also remember those who were killed in Dunmanway in April 1922, a place I visited earlier today and learned about the history. This too is part of the sadness, sorrow and history of that time,” said Mr Varadkar, speaking in Drinagh.

“These were difficult times, where differences and bitterness were carried by some within families for decades, and across generations. In some families and communities silence was the path of chosen remembrance. That is no longer the case.”

Mr Varadkar’s comments echoed similar sentiments expressed by the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, who last year warned that many members of the Church of Ireland in West Cork were approaching such centenaries with “trepidation and dread”.