Micheál Martin calls RIC commemoration event an "error of judgment"
Micheál Martin has called the event an "error of judgment".
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has spoken out about the controversial planned commemorative event for the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) next week, saying that the government has "abandoned" the "model of inclusive commemoration that has been developed and implemented by successive governments".
Martin, whose party support the Fine Gael government through a confidence and supply arrangement, also called for the public to respect anyone who wishes to take part in the event commemorating the RIC.
In his statement, issued on Tuesday afternoon, Martin acknowledged that it is "undeniably true that many decent people joined the police force of the day for legitimate reasons but found themselves on the wrong side of history," and that some members of the RIC worked with those fighting for Irish freedom.
However, the Cork TD said that there are other events which would have been more appropriate, rather than a specific commemoration of the RIC.
"An all-inclusive event, remembering all who died during the War of Independence is already scheduled and it was understood by all involved that this would be an appropriate moment to demonstrate that we also remember those who did not support the struggle for national independence which was secured by the men and women who are the focus of many other events," said Martin.
He also hit out at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan's response to criticism of the event.
"In my view, the event organised by the Justice Minister is not the appropriate vehicle to explore such complex themes. It was an error of judgement compounded by the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and their reaction to those who have decided not to participate.
"They should withdraw their accusation that, to quote Minister Flanagan, those who choose not to attend this event are abandoning 'mutual understanding and reconciliation'."
Speaking on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Varadkar addressed criticism of the event by saying: "We should respect all traditions on our island and be mature enough as a State to acknowledge all aspects of our past."
Several public officials have announced their intention to boycott the event. Dublin City Council voted on Monday to boycott the event, which will take place on 17 January at Dublin Castle. Sinn Féin have also called for the event to be cancelled.
Lord Mayor of Cork John Sheehan, Galway Mayor Mike Cubbard and Mayor of Kerry Niall Kelleher are also among those who have declined to attend the event.