Gabriel Doherty, University College Cork history lecturer and Birmingham native, will be making the case for Michael Collins to be named Britain’s number one enemy this weekend.
The Irish Examiner reports that Gabriel Doherty, who was born to Irish parents in Birmingham, was chosen to lead the Michael Collins’ bid for number one foe. The UCC lecturer will be given 40 minutes to convey as to why Collins should be granted the title at an all-day speaker’s event at the National Army Museum in London on Saturday.
Doherty has his work cut out for him as the other contenders for the title - Napoleon, George Washington, Ataturk, and Rommel are all worthy opponents.
Ultimately, the winner will be chosen after a secret-ballot vote. The final five opponents, however, were decided upon following an online poll that narrowed the selection from twenty to five historical figures. In the preliminary poll, Collins landed in second place to the founding father of Turkey, rebel army commander Mustafa Kemal Ataturk by around 300 votes.
Doherty, who has been a lecturer of history at UCC for 20 years, was confirmed as a speaker for the event on Tuesday after he was initially approached about participating only last Saturday. The lecturer plans on “blocking out” the days leading up to the speaking engagement in order to be adequately prepared.
While he’ll of course be brushing up on his Collins history, Doherty realizes the importance of knowing about the others as well. "I also need to do some research on the other four foes, who were all tremendous figures, to learn more about them.”
"But Collins was much more than just a great military leader,” added Doherty. “He had many different hats and the political and administrative skills of Collins tend to be a lot more overlooked and less appreciated.”
"You could argue that the single biggest contribution he ever made was on the financial side by raising money in the US for the Dáil loan.”
"Also, the speech he gave in the Dáil following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty was superb, and better than de Valera’s. The political side of Collins was underrated."
Doherty finally added: "I don’t know exactly what angle I’ll be taking, but... by Saturday I’ll be prepared."