Defence Forces should have honoured dead Free State soldiers, Ring says

The commemoration was organised by a group of retired army officers and was attended by relatives of the dead soldiers

Former Government minister Michael Ring has said he is “angry and upset” at the refusal of the Defence Forces to provide a colour party at a recent commemoration for the National Army dead.

The first national commemoration for the 750 Free State soldiers who died on the Government side in the Civil War was held last month in Glasnevin cemetery.

The event on November 27th was organised by a group of retired army officers calling themselves the Respect and Loyalty to the Forgotten group and was attended by many relatives of those involved.

Mr Ring’s great-uncle Brigadier General Joe Ring was killed fighting with the National Army on September 14th, 1922. He was 32 years of age and had fought with the IRA during the War of Independence.


Mr Ring said many families of National Army soldiers who were killed are angry about the lack of an official state commemoration for the dead.

“It is families like ours that took the rap for all of this and we paid the price because we took the State’s side,” he said.

“Because we took the State side, there was less thought of us as a people than those who did everything in their power not to have a Free State in this country”

He intends to raise it at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting next week.

“There should no question of the minister, no question of the Government and no question of the army not having had a colour party at that event,” he said.

“This is our state, this is the people who died for our country and they have not been recognised. They have been written out of history all the time.”

He accused some senior Fine Gael politicians of not understanding the party’s origins as the party that stood by the State at its inception.

“I feel they have an obligation. The problem with a lot of them in the Fine Gael party [is they] do not have an understanding or a loyalty to Fine Gael like the Rings have or the Brutons or the Kennys. We came through Fine Gael,” he said.

“It wasn’t the party of convenience for us. It was the party we grew up [with] and the party that stood for the State. They don’t have that loyalty to Fine Gael and the State.”

Correspondence seen by The Irish Times confirms that the organisers of the event wrote to the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney, the Department of Defence’s secretary general and the Defence Forces.

The invitation to Mr Coveney was responded to by his private secretary. She apologised for the minister’s unavailability, but said Mr Coveney was having a discussion with the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Sean Clancy about hosting a commemoration event for the National Army next year.

This event would mark the centenary of the Temporary Provisions Act 1923 as well as providing an opportunity to unveil the significant refurbishment works commissioned by the Department of Defence that have recently been completed on the National Army Plot in Glasnevin.

“In view of the foregoing and following discussions with military colleagues, we have been advised that it is not considered appropriate to provide a Defence Forces Flag Party for your event,” a spokesperson said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times