Patrols planned for Béal na Bláth following last year's unofficial gatherings

Patrols planned for Béal na Bláth following last year's unofficial gatherings

Irish Free State Army personnel at the scene of the shooting of Michael Collins at Béal na Bláth in 1922. 

With preparations in place for a virtual commemoration of the death of Michael Collins this weekend, gardaí plan patrols in the area to watch for breaches of Covid restrictions and traffic rules. 

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys is to give a virtual address to mark the 99th anniversary of the death of Michael Collins, with plans for the traditional commemoration at Béal na Bláth scuppered by Covid-19.

President Michael D Higgins speaking at the Béal na Bláth commemoration in 2016. Plans for the traditional commemoration have been scuppered by Covid-19.
President Michael D Higgins speaking at the Béal na Bláth commemoration in 2016. Plans for the traditional commemoration have been scuppered by Covid-19.

Organisers of the commemoration have opted for an alternative commemoration this year due to the pandemic.

Alternative plans due to Covid

“Unfortunately, due to ongoing public health concerns and the current restrictions around outdoor gatherings, the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee had no option but to take the decision not to proceed with this year’s commemoration as we had planned,” the chair of the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee, Cllr Garret Kelleher. said.

“Rather than giving an in-person address in front of an assembled crowd at the monument in Béal na Bláth, our guest speaker, minister Heather Humphreys, will instead deliver this year’s commemorative oration online.”

Gardaí on patrol

Meanwhile, garda sources say that gardaí will be on patrol throughout the weekend. 

Last year, a number of unofficial gatherings took place at the monument during the weekend of the 98th anniversary of Collins, with some involving speeches being delivered at the monument on the site.

Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said gardaí will be watching for breaches of traffic and Covid restrictions at the site over the weekend.

He said gardaí have not been notified of any planned gathering at the monument this year to mark the anniversary. 

But he said: “We will be monitoring traffic and watching things from a Covid perspective.” 

Last year, the commemoration committee met in private at the monument to lay a wreath. Prayers were also offered for former SDLP leaders John Hume and Seamus Mallon, who both died last year.

Next year will mark the centenary of Collins’s death.

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