Free State Revisionism of Irish history
It was recently publicised that plans are in the making to redevelop the Kilmichael ambush site in West Cork. It was at this site in November 1920 that a flying column of the IRA ambushed and inflicted heavy casualties on a unit of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC. The Auxiliaries earned their fearsome reputation as a ruthless, blood thirsty terror gang due to their conduct during the Tan War. In response to IRA military action against the British war machine in Ireland, the Auxiliaries often retaliated against the civilian population by destroying property and murdering members of the public.
The proposed redevelopment of the ambush site includes a plan to list the names and ranks of the Auxiliaries who were killed in the ambush, effectively acknowledging as legitimate the role of the British forces in the Tan War and to a large extent equating it with the efforts of Irish Republicans who fought against British imperialism.
This occurrence is one of a number of similar instances of recent times. At the end of last month there occurred in Dublin, for the second consecutive year, a commemoration for the Black and Tans. As with the Auxiliaries, the Black and Tans were the armed representatives of the British state who acted in the same manner and were responsible for terrorising and murdering ordinary people. This commemoration was attended by twenty-six county minister Brian Hayes, among others.
In a further and more recent development from earlier this month Eamon Gilmore, on behalf of the twenty-six county administration, issued an invite to members of the British government and the British royal family to participate in the state's centenary commemorative events of the 1916 Easter Rising in three years' time.
These developments should be recognised for what they are - attempts to rewrite Irish history, to give the impression that both sides in this conflict are equals (albeit opposites), and to normalise the existence of British rule in the north eastern six counties of Ireland. As Irish Republicans we need to reject the revisionism of our history and oppose the notion that British involvement in Ireland is either normal or acceptable. We are at the beginning of a decade of commemorating the 1913 - 1923 era and it is our responsibility to take charge and to ensure that the memory of our patriots who have gone before us is not sullied by those in constitutional nationalism who have traditionally sided with the enemies of Republicanism.