Sunday, August 23, 2015

Michael Collins Revisionism

Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Justice,
Equality and Law Reform.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald today addressed the annual Beal na mBláth commemoration in West Cork, a celebration of the life of Michael Collins, at the place where he was killed during the Civil War. Instead of honouring the man, or making a statement of vision, or progress, Minister Fitzgerald chose instead a thinly veiled attack on Sinn Féin and the parties of protest, in anticipation of the coming general election. It was grubby, disrespectful and low, reminiscent of the excesses of her predecessors Shatter and McDowell. What is it about the portfolio that makes its ministers so dislikeable?

As reported by the Irish Times she said: “Fine Gael has always stood for the rule of law, believing that with rights come responsibility - the solemn responsibility of all Irish men and women to respect and adhere to those same laws. For Collins, disagreement was to be cherished, but interference with the people, their safety and their property, was unacceptable and was to be clamped down upon.”
What she didn't mention of course was that Michael Collins was at the vanguard of a subversive, violent resistance movement that executed policemen and soldiers, bombed RIC barracks, and actively led the undermining of the State. He upended the rule of law, and denied the legitimate authority of the time, when that authority was at war in Europe with Germany.
Your correspondent passes no judgement on Collins, nor on the State at the time, but on our Justice Minister, who seems to think that no electoral edge has too high a price. One should not be so infused with the arrogance of power as to think that one maintains a monopoly on right; and that all who contradict should subjugate their disenfranchised discontent to that will. She was a million miles off George Hook last year. This was an opportunity for empathy, for articulating a vision in which everyone could share, just as we should all share our history. Instead, it was made a platform for division, righteousness and derision. Is this what we've become?

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