Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has been appointed by An Taoiseach Mícheál Martin to represent the Fianna Fáil party on the All-Party Consultation Group on State Commemorations.
The committee’s role is to, among other things, promote a consultative and open approach to commemorations, which seeks to strengthen peace and reconciliation across the island of Ireland.
“I’m deeply honoured to take on this new role and I hope this committee will allow me an opportunity to express my great interest in history and also my experiences of being involved in very successful community-led commemorations in Clare,” said Deputy Crowe.
“As we move through the decade of centenaries, we are shortly going to have to face some of the more challenging aspects in terms of state commemorations.
“The month of May marks the centenary of the partition of Ireland and we are now also approaching the centenary of the Civil War period, which divided Ireland not just at that time but for the decades and generations that followed.
“I think things in Ireland have moved on and generations of people who had familial divisions relating to the Civil War period have now passed on.
“In this context, the commemorations should be able to take place in a historic space and I am of the firm view that we shouldn’t take a revisionist approach to how we view these events.
“It was utterly wrong last year for the previous government to be pushing ahead with plans to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary.
“I have always considered commemoration to be an act of celebration and whilst we must remember historical events on an inclusive basis, we must be extremely cautious and not let ourselves cross a line which involves eulogising in any way forces which a century ago sought to suppress the long-standing Irish desire for independence.
“As a member of the All-Party Consultative Group, I look forward to engaging with Minister Catherine Martin and other TDs on across-party basis.
“My own outlook on commemoration has very much been shaped by my local commemorative committee, which has successfully erected seven memorials in the Meelick, Parteen, Ardnacrusha and Cratloe areas.
“In a Clare context, I very much admire the leadership in commemorations shown by historians like Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc, Padraig McCormack, Tom Twomey and Mary Crawford and her team who have led commemorations for the Mid-Clare Brigade of the Old IRA.
“Away from politics, history is a major passion of mine. History and politics can and should co-exist but history shouldn’t determine how contemporary political decisions are made.
“Over the past year, many people have continued to ask me to expand on my opinions regarding the RIC. I think there should be an expanded education programme in schools so that we learn about the RIC but I think we need to stop short of having whole-scale commemorations for this policing body.
“I look forward to engaging with my colleagues in this group and furthering historic education as we form an outlook on how commemorative events can and should take place.”