Marking the end of the RIC
A chara, – Piaras Béaslaí, in his biography of his friend, Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland (1926), describes the nature of the Royal Irish Constabulary for the benefit of the foreign reader: “The RIC were a military force, armed with rifles and living in barracks. Their primary and essential purpose was to hold the country in subjection to England.
“In furtherance of this aim, the force was kept at a strength out of all proportion to the requirements of a normal police force. In districts where crime was practically unknown ... barracks full of strapping young men, armed with rifles, were maintained at the expense of the people of Ireland. Every village had its barracks, with its garrison holding the post for England, and dominating the countryside.” As to their main activity, “spying on the people”, Béaslaí quotes Augustine Birrell’s evidence to the Royal Commission on the Insurrection of 1916: “We have the reports of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who send us in, almost daily, reports from almost every district in Ireland, and I have them under the microscope.”
That force cannot be equated with the Garda Síochána. – Is mise,
Sir, – After reading the excellent piece by your correspondent Stephen Collins (Opinion Analysis, August 25th), I, along with my wife and young children, attended the dignified service organised by retired gardaí Patrick McCarthy and Gerard Lovett in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin last Saturday to remember members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, especially those who were killed in the period 1919-21.
The flurry of criticism of this service over the past few days has cast a dark shadow over this island and how “Official Ireland” makes the correct noises for some while neatly ignoring others.
With the first casualty of the Easter Rising being an unarmed DMP officer outside Dublin Castle, it will be ironic that when this State promotes the 100th anniversary of the Rising, the constable in question, James O’Brien, and his sacrifice in serving the law will be forgotten, while politicians with more in common with the aims of constitutional nationalists such as John Redmond will be praising the violent actions of extreme republicanism. – Yours, etc,