Cork's Lord Mayor won't attend RIC commemoration

Cork's Lord Mayor won't attend RIC commemoration
Pictures: Gerard McCarthy.

Mayor John Sheehan said he received an invite to the ceremony on Friday and thought carefully about it, before eventually deciding not to attend. 

"I won't be attending for various reasons. One is that this is commemorating the institutions and not the individuals. 

"It would not be appropriate for me to attend while wearing the same chain that Tomás MacCurtain once wore, especially when he was killed by RIC officers.

"I could not commemorate [the RIC] and then commemorate Tomás MacCurtain's death a few weeks later... it would just not be appropriate."

Tomás MacCurtain was shot dead on the 20 March 1920, on his 36th birthday. He was killed in front of his wife and son by a group of men, who were later found to be members of the RIC after an official inquest.

However, the Mayor welcomed the centenary events overall. "Ireland was a very divided place [after the War of Independence and Civil War]. I think we are mature enough now to look at this history and see the genuine beliefs held by people... these beliefs shaped Ireland.

"Cork is doing a whole year of centenary commemorations, for the deaths of Tomás MacCurtain, Terence MacSwiney and also the burning of Cork."

The Lord Mayor says that both MacCurtain and MacSwiney were hugely important to commemorate for the centenary, especially for Cork. 

"Terence MacSwiney's death was a huge global event and received worldwide media coverage at the time. It's important to recognise this."

Terence MacSwiney became the Lord Mayor of Cork after the death of Tomás MacCurtain. He was arrested in August 1920 for the "possession of seditious articles and documents" and for the possession of a cypher key. 

He was tried, and then imprisoned in Britain. He died while on a hunger strike, protesting his internment.

The current Lord Mayor feels that Irish people still bear a great connection to this part of our history. 

"From my visits to schools, it's clear that the children of today have and enthusiasm for this history and they have a great connection to their past." 

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