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Ferris: Collins the Separatist or Collins the Monetarist Monarchist?

21 August, 2006


The Sinn Féin for Kerry North, Martin Ferris TD, has asked Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to explain which Michael Collins is the one who his party upholds as a role model. Deputy Ferris posed the question following yesterday's speeches by Mr. Kenny at the Michael Collins commemoration at Beal na Bláth and by Dublin FG TD and MEP Gay Mitchell at a ceremony for Collins and Arthur Griffith at Glasnevin. The Kerry North TD claimed that remarks by both indicate considerable confusion within Fine Gael regarding the objectives of the men whom it claims as it founders, despite the fact that neither were ever a member of their party, and whose principles the party claims continue to guide them.

Deputy Ferris said: "In the fashion of 'new Fine Gael' Enda Kenny does at least acknowledge that Michael Collins is chiefly remembered for the fact that he helped to prosecute a ruthless war which, as Deputy Kenny rightly observes, brought the British Empire to its knees. Such a public pronouncement by Liam Cosgrave, Garret Fitzgerald or John Bruton would have been unthinkable.

"However, Enda Kenny slightly tarnished that by referring to Collin's "mission" to manage the finances of the country. This conjures up an image of Collins as a man who would close down hospitals or cut old age pensions, as Fine Gael Ministers have not been unknown to do, rather than the man who in The Path to Freedom spoke of the need to reduce disparities of wealth, to invest in public welfare and to ensure the control over Irish resources by Irish people. Not the things you would immediately associate with Fine Gael, either historically or at the present time.

"Gay Mitchell, in fairness to him, has upheld the more recent image of his party by pondering on the role of the British Monarch in a 32 County Ireland. He contradicts himself on numerous occasions but not least by referring to the Republican Movement as "so-called republicans" while he himself -- presumably as a real republican, advocates the acceptance of the British monarchy! Something which few republicans, be they Irish, French, American or indeed English, have been heard to propose since the good old days of the 1780s prior to the toppling of monarchs in most of the civilised world by republican revolutions.

"I draw attention to these remarks as they are indicative of the continuing contradictions at the heart of the Fine Gael party. A party that on the one hand claims inheritance from Irish separatists who were prepared to assert the right to separation from the British Empire through force, and on the other has historically argued against the logic of completing the Irish national revolution, and indeed in Gay Mitchell's case, for a reversion to a subservience long ago rejected by the majority of the Irish people.

"Irish republicans have proven themselves only too willing to accommodate the Unionist community in attempting to form the basis for a new Ireland. That will be based on the recognition of the rights and cultures of all, but certainly not on the recognition of an archaic, reactionary and sectarian hereditary monarchy."

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