Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Dáil committee to investigate Bríd Smith comments about judge – “Attack on Democracy Itself” Says admirer of the RIC/Black and Tans Charlie Flanagan TD

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A People Before Profit TD attacked ‘democracy itself’, former minister for justice claims.

The deputy who made the complaint against Bríd Smith TD (Dublin South-Central) is Charlie Flanagan, who dumped his Fine Gael Party in very hot water in January 2020. The ex Minister for Justice, attempted to sponsor a government ceremony celebrating the Royal Irish Constabulary/Black and Tans. These were ruthless gangsters in a notorious uniform of the RIC during the War of Independence 100 years ago. Splendid language was spoken by deputies in the first Dáil, elected in 1919, about the Black and Tans and other props of British rule in Ireland such as judges, who were very effectively shunned and boycotted.

Ex Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan with British Premier Boris Johnson

RIC/Black and Tan Recruitment Public Letter

Bríd Smith TD campaigning for Repeal of the Anti-Abortion 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution

Hats off to Manus O’Riordan, a tireless researcher – retirement from SIPTU has not dimmed his energy – O’Riordan’s lengthy demolition of Charlie Flanagan’s political and historical hypocrisy about the Black and Tans should assist Bríd Smith TD :



In the Irish Republic’s democratic assembly of Dáil Éireann on April 10, 1919, the following address on RIC atrocities was delivered by the Minister for Industries, Eoin MacNeill:

“It is impossible for us to escape having our blood stirred at the recital of the details laid before us here to-day. While all that we have heard stirs the indignation, there is not a single one of us who is surprised. There is nothing in it that surprises us. We know that only for fear of the consequences such infamous things as have been detailed here to-day would be thrown into the shade. We cannot allow our feelings of indignation to be uppermost in dealing with these matters when we come together in common council. In our homes we give full voice to what we think. The responsibility for these things rests on the heads of the rulers of England (and not on such vague abstracts as the English Government or the English State) from Lloyd George down to Macpherson and those others who are employed by them who are personally engaged in committing atrocities. They are the men we have to defeat. I hope that any potentate who has been guilty of atrocities will be punished. It will be a wholesome precedent.”

“If they fix the precedent of bringing the ex-Kaiser to trial, we may yet have an opportunity of having other persons brought to the bar of international justice. I have been watching the development of the English Government’s policy. That policy aims at making the police our masters in Ireland, and we often do not realise that with the single exception of Russia under the Government of the Czar there never was a country so police-governed as this country is.”

“Now, it is the determination of the English Government at present, and it is not only their determination but their last resource, to make the police supreme in Ireland, and it is not to relieve our feelings that we have this discussion, but to defeat this infamous policy. We can, and will, and must, defeat it, and to this end we must pledge ourselves, pledge our children, pledge our friends, and pledge our country on no account to submit in any shape or form or at any future time to be police-governed by the English Government. The police in Ireland are a force of spies. The police in Ireland are a force of traitors, and the police in Ireland are a force of perjurers. I say these things, not that your feelings might be roused, but to convince you of the necessity that exists why you should take such measures as will make police government in this country by the enemy impossible.”

“Some of the atrocities have been related to you. I could relate many that have been covered over and concealed. At the outset of the conscription fight in Ireland we were led to think that some of the police were actually supporting the popular cause. Many of them were going to the novena every evening to pray against conscription. We now know what the reason of that strange spiritual activity was, and we also know that Lord Curzon read out a long string of testimony supplied to him – notes that these men had written down in the House of God and sent on to Dublin Castle as information against their own clergy who were opposing conscription.”

“It was boasted some time ago by an English Minister that the whole of Ireland was under the police microscope. The police have entered a number of houses in the County of Dublin, arrested young men, and sent them to penal servitude by false testimony. No one is safe from them. The same fate may befall any of your sons who stands by the cause of liberty. It might be anyone’s son who was taken away at the same place and time as the boys, the story of whose kidnapping has just been read out.”

“Now, the English Government cannot defeat Ireland by a constitutional policy or by a military policy. The military are there only for the purpose of making the present police force supreme in Ireland. If you make up your mind the police policy will be beaten. The supremacy of the police since the coming of the Irish Volunteers has disappeared, and so long as you have the Irish Volunteers in Ireland it will be impossible for the enemy to make their police forces supreme.”

MacNeill went on to second the following motion, proposed by President Éamon de Valera, and unanimously adopted by Dáil Éireann: “That members of the police forces acting in this country as part of the forces of the British occupation and as agents of the British Government be ostracised socially by the people of Ireland.”


Eoin MacNeill would be Cumann na nGaedheal Minister for Education from 1922 to 1925 in the first Free State Government. The grandson of Eoin MacNeill, Senator Michael MacDowell – originally with Fine Gael and later a founder of the PDs – served as Attorney General from 1999 to 2002, as Minister for Justice from 2002 to 2007, and as PD leader and Tánaiste from 2006 to 2007. On June 28, 2016, McDowell delivered a paper, entitled “Eoin MacNeill – a family perspective”, in which he related:

“It is notable that MacNeill unreservedly backed the War of Independence. His three eldest sons became active members and officers in the 6th Battalion of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in South Dublin… An indication of MacNeill’s personal commitment to the morality of the War of Independence can be gleaned from a letter that he sent to the Archbishop of Tuam (Thomas Gilmartin) on 22 July 1920, in a context that the Archbishop was reported as saying that the shooting of two Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men near Tuam, although a ‘dastardly crime’ could not justify the subsequent sacking of the town by Black and Tans in reprisal.”

Describing MacNeill as “a devout Catholic”, McDowell went on quote that letter:

“Either we Irishmen are morally entitled to carry arms or we are not. If we are, we are entitled to defend our right and if the so-called ‘police’, who are well known to Your Grace to be no police but a mere branch of the British military forces, endanger our lives in the exercise of that right, Your Grace can define the extent of resistance that is morally justifiable.”

“It is surely not a case for vagueness, and till we know our rights supposing the present belief of the people in general and their present conscientious conviction to be mistaken – we are justified in protesting against your Lordship’s use of the term ‘murder’ even without the qualifying adjective.”

“If on the other hand we have no right to bear arms, surely Your Grace ought to say so, for undoubtedly the bearing of arms, being the occasion of shooting on sight by those in command of the so-called police, will also be the occasion of the so-called police being shot at sight.”

“For my part I have not the slightest doubt that I am entitled to bear arms in defence of Ireland against the British forces, and that I am also entitled to resist being disarmed to the same degree as I may resist an attempt to destroy my house or my life or the lives of my family.”

“I am not bound to put up my hands when ordered to do so by any subordinate of the British Government. I have the clearest evidence therefore that my life and the rights I am entitled to defend unto death are always threatened by the so-called ‘police’. Does Your Grace really believe that this state of mind implies that I am at heart and in conscience a murderer, not to say a dastard.”

“I am, my Lord Archbishop, Your Grace’s faithful servant Eoin MacNeill”

In the ‘Irish Times’ on September 15, 2019, Ronan McGreevy gleefully quoted the words of the present Fine Gael Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, maintaining that, during the War of Independence, RIC personnel had been “murdered in the line of duty”:

“The Minister for Justice has become the first government minister to attend a commemoration service for policemen killed by the IRA in the War of Independence.

Mr Flanagan was a guest at the annual interdenominational service for members of the RIC and the DMP… Mr Flanagan said he attended because the policemen involved were ‘doing their job. They were murdered in the line of duty. They were doing what police officers do. As they saw it they were protecting communities from harm. They were maintaining the rule of law. These are fundamental to police services everywhere.’ … Mr Flanagan said the families of RIC and DMP men killed in the War of Independence have had to live with a century of their relatives being described as ‘traitors and disloyal citizens’. He maintained his presence was in the same spirit as his attendance at a service in Grangegorman in 2016 to remember the British soldiers killed in the Easter Rising.”

Quite the same spirit indeed! And there could be no better comment on Fine Gael Minister Flanagan than Eoin MacNeill’s riposte to the Archbishop of Tuam!

Source : Irish Republican Education Forum :

Judge Gleeson cracked down on the singing of republican ballads and the reciting of ballads :

People were being arrested at this time for reciting poetry and singing republican ballads in public.  Sentencing a young republican, Patrick Ryan, in Tipperary town the judge, Gleeson, told the court the ballad Ryan had been singing was “of such a disgraceful and shocking character that he would not have it read in court” and that the person who had written it “should be shot, or hanged and quartered”.  In fact, so awful was such a person that even “The savage of the Fiji Islands wouldn’t do that kind of thing, not to talk of Christians and Catholics and Irishmen.”  The ballad was about the killing of RIC members at Soloheadbeg and Knocklong.  (Irish Times, September 4, 1919.)

Perhaps Deputy Flanagan deplores “highly personalized” attacks on the late Judge Gleeson which are “an attack on democracy itself”?

A Dáil committee has agreed to investigate comments made by People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith in relation to a High Court judge.

The Dáil’s committee on procedure met on Thursday to consider a complaint from former minister for justice Charlie Flanagan in which he said the deputy’s comments in the Dáil in relation to the judge were “highly personalised” and “an attack on democracy itself”.

In the Dáil last month, Ms Smith said it was “a day when tens of thousands of workers will wake up to the realisation that a learned judge of the High Court, who earns more than €220,000 per year, has decided in his wisdom that an electrician who may earn €45,000 per year is possibly overpaid, and has then struck down a sectoral employment order that will affect tens of thousands of workers already on low pay. This is a war on workers, and it is time for workers to fight back.”

On Facebook she described Mr Justice Garrett Simons as a “right-wing judge”.

Mr Flanagan said he believed the People Before Profit TD was “waging something of a campaign” on social media, and called on the Ceann Comhairle to “take the appropriate steps”. – Irish Times.


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