For the government of this country to celebrate the memory and the actions of RIC and DMP officers who implemented martial law in Ireland and attempted to suppress the Irish Freedom Movement as authorised by the First Dáil of Ireland in 1919 is quite frankly both egregious and outrageous.
I will not be attending any such commemoration and make no apologies for it.
By attending such a commemoration, I would be directly dishonouring my great grandfather and great-grandmother, Michael & Margaret Healy of Upperchurch.
During the Fenian Rebellion of 1867, my great grandfather Michael Healy was convicted, along with his brother-in-law Thomas Whelan and many neighbours, for their part in the burning of Roskeen RIC Barracks. My great grandmother Margaret Healy, (nee Whelan of Shefferoy) along with other women walked the 30 miles to Nenagh and back each week to bring them provisions while they were jailed there.
Therefore, I will certainly not be participating in any such commemoration on behalf of my family and neither will I be doing so as the elected representative of muintir Tiobraid Árainn to the 32nd Dáil Éireann.
This commemoration must be seen for what it is: A deliberate attempt to redraw and rewrite the history of the Irish people and the birth of the Irish state and it must be resisted.
To participate in this sham commemoration is to support the blatant political revisionism behind it.
The political parties of the Ireland of today would have a different version of Irish history taught in Irish schools to Irish children; one that is more palatable to their conservatism but one that does not reflect the truth of the Irish Freedom Movement or the full-bodied sentiment and intellectual rigour of the Irish patriots, men and women, who were behind it.
Unbelievably, it puts our oppressors, the RIC, the DMP, the Tans and the Auxiliaries in the same category as those who died for the creation of the Republic.
Dr. Brian Murphy, OSB, Glenstal has rightly criticised Minister Flanagan for representing the RIC as a normal police force carrying out normal police duties. But the RIC were no “guardians of peace”. The RIC was in fact an armed, para-military, highly politicised force, implementing martial law to defeat the outcome of the 1918 election. It is very difficult to accept that in the Ireland of 2020, a mere one hundred years after the War of Independence, that the RIC, who were described in the Westminster Parliament in 1919 as a “semi-military organisation” who as such could not join the National Union of Police Officers is to be commemorated by any Irish government.
Leaving the cause of Irish freedom aside, neither were they the guardians of the Irish workers. The Dublin Metropolitan Police, also to be feted by the blue-shirt Irish government of today, baton charged worker’s rallies and in August 1913, caused the deaths of two workers, James Nolan and John Byrne by doing so. Over 300 more were injured.
Thinking Irish people must ask themselves; why are such people to be commemorated?
The Fine Gael-Independent Alliance government of the 32nd Dáil want to reframe the War of Independence as a war between two equal and legitimate powers. They want to reframe the War of Independence to focus on the atrocities of war committed on both sides. They want us to equally weigh the might of the colonial British empire against the Irish pillars and columns and safe-houses. They want to rewrite the revolution out of our story so that we might begin to believe that we are a conciliatory people.
But when the might of the British empire reigned down upon Ireland, Irish people did not merely “roll over”. We fought back and none more so than the people of Tipperary. We stuck it to the British empire and in doing so lit a flame that burned so bright it could be seen as far away as colonial India.
I call on all Tipperary people and other invitees to boycott this ceremony prepared by our government to commemorate our oppressors.
To do otherwise would be to dishonour our patriots who fought and died for the Irish people in the War of Independence, those pioneers of freedom who inspired a nation and the world.
-Seamus Healy T.D.
TROLLEY CRISIS – Reopen the Accident and Emergency departments at Nenagh General Hospital and Ennis General Hospital, reopen Our Lady’s Hospital Cashel and lift the moratorium on both staffing and home help hours.
From 2002 on, successive Governments have espoused and implemented the downgrading of hospitals and the transfer of acute hospital services to so-called centres of excellence. We all know that that policy has created chaos. It was wrong then and it is wrong now, and it should never have happened.
We in South Tipperary were lucky, that people power, that 15,000 people on the streets stopped the transfer of our services to other areas, but other areas were not as lucky. It is now time to recognise that failure of policy and reverse that policy failure.
The trolley figures are a clear example of the chaos. Those figures, and we are talking about human beings on trolleys in accident and emergency departments, on corridors and in wards are a clear example of the chaos, are a clear example of the failure and a clear example of the indignity suffered by thousands upon thousands of patients over the past ten years. The figures for October, 11,452, are absolutely outrageous. The figures are climbing year on year, and of course we haven’t really entered Winter at all yet.
One of the areas which has suffered the brunt of the policy that I am speaking is the mid-west, including Limerick, Clare and north Tipperary, which is part of my constituency. There are knock-on effects at South Tipperary General Hospital in addition. University Hospital Limerick and South Tipperary General Hospital consistently among the highest trolley figures in the country. Today’s trolley figures are absolutely obscene. Patients are suffering and patients are dying on trolleys in our emergency departments, something the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine has warned us about for the past number of years. Today’s figures are the second highest ever recorded.
Mary Harney, the former Minister for Health, declared an emergency when there were 602 patients on trolleys. Today there are 679 patients on trolleys. The particular problems at University Hospital Limerick and in Clare and north Tipperary started with the closure of the accident and emergency departments at Nenagh General Hospital and at Ennis General Hospital. There is now a campaign locally and there have been a number of very successful meetings to demand the reopening of the Accident and Emergency departments both at Nenagh General Hospital and at Ennis General Hospital
The chaos resulting from the policy I have described has been compounded by two moratoriums. Everybody in this Chamber, including the Taoiseach, knows they are real.
We have a moratorium on the recruitment of staff. There are currently 432 vacant posts for staff nurses, public health nurses and staff midwives. There are more than 500 nurse vacancies in mental health services. I know three nursing posts have been vacant for the past six months in South Tipperary mental health services, in the child and adolescent mental health services and a Clinical Nurse Specialist for mental health services in the accident and emergency department in Clonmel.
Is it now time to accept that the policy of downgrading hospitals has failed and that the policy should be reversed? Isn’t it now time to agree to the reopening of the accident and emergency department in Ennis and Nenagh? And isn’t it now time finally to recognise what we all know that there is a moratorium on both staffing and home help hours and that that moratorium should be lifted immediately.
I have to say that I am shocked at the lack of urgency that the Taoiseach displays, almost indifference, almost as if this situation is normal. The trolley figures are absolutely obscene. We have people suffering on trolleys in our hospitals and people are dying on trolleys in our hospitals. The Taoiseach is the leader of this country and I have to say that he has a responsibility for this obscenity, he has a responsibility for the suffering and a responsibly for the deaths of these people on trolleys in our hospitals over recent years, a position that continues to this day. The Taoiseach can solve this problem.
He absolutely can solve this problem. I ask him to introduce immediately a supplementary budget to tax the 1%, the very wealthy people, the billionaires who own 27.3% of all the wealth in this country. They are not paying their fair share now, nor have they ever done so. I want the Taoiseach to reopen the accident and emergency departments at Nenagh General Hospital and Ennis General Hospital and to reopen Our Lady’s Hospital Cashel, a state-of-the-art hospital which has been vacant for the past ten years. The Taoiseach has the responsibility to solve this problem. He can do it. The question is whether he has the political will to do it.