The government almost handed a victory to extremists who use Irish Republicanism as window dressing for their real views

The Irish government, in their infinite wisdom, decided to hold a commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in Dublin Castle on 17 January. The RIC were set up in the early 19th century, manned by mostly Irish men, and commanded by the British crown. They did as they were ordered, including evicting their fellow Irish people out of their homes as demanded by the crown. They were armed, dangerous, and suppressed any Fenian activity directed at the overturning of British rule in Ireland. 

In January 1920, the British government started advertising in British cities for men willing to “face a rough and dangerous task”. What they wanted was to to boost the ranks of the RIC in policing an increasingly anti-British Ireland. Scores of men applied. In fact, due to the amount of applicants RIC uniforms ran out. Instead, the men were issued khaki-like trousers and blue or green British army tunics. Hence they became known as the Black and Tans. 

The first of the Black and Tans arrived in Ireland in March 1920 and were shortly joined by the Auxiliaries who were mostly made up of ex-British army officers. Both groups would go on to perpetrate horrendous crimes in Ireland, including Bloody Sunday 1920 in which 14 were murdered by the British forces as they attended a Gaelic football match. They were also responsible for the equally infamous burning of Cork in which the city centre was destroyed by British forces. It was carried out in retaliation for an ambush by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which resulted in the wounding of 12 Auxiliaries and the death of one. 

The Irish government had planned to pay tribute to the men of the RIC despite the fact that they were responsible for death and destruction in Ireland 100 years ago. Widespread opposition to the commemoration immediately appeared across the country. As a result, the event has now been cancelled. But some of the opposition came from pseudo-Irish Republicans who call themselves nationalists and patriots. 

These so-called nationalists and patriots are nothing more than fascists and are the figureheads for the Irish far right. Their views range from the mass deportation of non-Irish people to advocating the creation of a Catholic theocracy in Ireland in which women’s rights will be, yet again, non-existent. Irish Republicanism and the nationalism of pre-independence Ireland is simply window dressing for their real views. 

Before the postponing of the event, they were calling for a protest at Dublin Castle, the site of the commemoration on 17 January. As usual, the so-called patriots were asking people to bring their tricolours. Their motives were simple to comprehend. It would give them a chance to protest the government, display their commitment to Ireland’s nationalist heritage, and as a result, hopefully recruit new members to their cause. After all, the government handed the opportunity to them on a plate. 

 If the commemoration went ahead they would have been standing alongside real Republicans. These false patriots don’t care about Irish nationalism. What they really care about is making sure Ireland only has the “correct” kind of Irish people in it: White and Catholic. They don’t want a united Ireland that is inclusive of immigrants and non-Irish members of our society.

Although they have failed this time around, be careful of who you stand beside at future Republican protests. These same pseudo-patriots will be present. And don’t be afraid to call out those who are trying to hijack legitimate Republicanism. Stand up and speak out.

Featured image via Flickr – National Library of Ireland