Day of Commemoration to honour Irish who died in foreign wars

The National Day of Commemoration, which was held on Sunday July 8th in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham to honour those Irish who died in foreign wars and in service with the United Nations, was a most solemn and moving event.  


The attendance of President McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern along with politicians from all the main political parties and the leading churchmen in Ireland reflected the importance attached to such a commemoration.  Those who died were remembered and honoured with the dignity and respect such a sacrifice warranted. 

However, for many years now there has been an insidious and persistent campaign aimed at forcing the full participation of the Irish state in the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremonies of the Royal British Legion. 

Every November we see contrived controversy generated in the Irish media designed to embarrass the Irish government of the day.  Irish society in the South has been repeatedly accused of failing to honour the memory of the 35,000 Irish in British uniform who were slaughtered in the so-called Great War of 1914-1918. 

This annual agitation is being orchestrated by a small vociferous but highly influential coterie of politicians, media people and others in the 26 counties who have links with bodies such as the Royal British Legion and would appear to be working to a definite agenda.  In an attempt to appease these agitators, the Irish state established the National Day of Commemoration.
It is entirely proper that appropriate ceremonies be held to commemorate the many thousands who went away and never returned.  What is not acceptable, however, is the efforts at conferring a new respectability upon the British Army under the guise of honouring the Irish war dead.  Irish nationalists must confront these agitators because there is more involved here than simply commemorating the Irish war dead.  They should be confronted on the historical record; the unanswerable indictment of carnage and mass slaughter.  Their campaign should also be seen as a veiled propagandist attack on separatist Irish nationhood.
Perhaps the greatest nonsense arising from this whole issue is the assumption that Armistice Day can be officially commemorated by a state that honours its heroes of liberation every Easter.  Who would entertain the idea that the Easter week volunteers and the British Army can be given recognition at official level and receive parity of esteem in state ceremonies?  To do so would make the Irish state look like some sort of devolved British colonial administration.