Young FG to boycott Collins service


THE YOUTH wing of Fine Gael plans to “boycott” the annual Béal na mBláth commemoration on Sunday in protest at Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan being invited to give the 2010 oration.

Young Fine Gael (YFG) has said it will not encourage its members to attend the commemoration this year because of the presence of Mr Lenihan.

The Minister is the first member of Fianna Fáil to be invited to give the address at an event synonymous with Fine Gael.

The reasons for the boycott are outlined in a letter by YFG president Barry Walsh to Dermot Collins, the chair of the commemoration committee. Mr Walsh wrote that Michael Collins, as first minister for finance, took the first steps to secure Ireland’s economic independence. “It will be a cruel irony for those in attendance to hear an oration being given in his honour by the current Minister for Finance, whose policies have put this economic independence at grave risk.”

Mr Walsh said yesterday that YFG did not object to the oration being given by people not associated with Fine Gael, even including members of Fianna Fáil. He said past guest speakers such as film-maker David Puttmam and former president Mary Robinson had offered excellent reflections on Collins’s legacy.

Earlier this month, Wexford-based Senator Liam Twomey expressed opposition to Mr Lenihan’s appearance. He said it was inappropriate for a representative of the other side of the Civil War to speak at a Fine Gael event.

Yesterday, a Cork-based Fianna Fáil cumann argued Fine Gael had no claim over Michael Collins’s legacy. Spokesman for Liam Healy Cumann, Tony Rodgers, said Mr Lenihan had a more direct link to Collins than Fine Gael did.