We need a master satirist like Brendan Behan to be alive at this moment
Why? Because the rich vein of risible nonsense that our government needlessly opened this week over the RIC and the Black and Tans would have delighted him so much he would have levitated.
The wildly ill-advised State commemoration for the RIC isn't just historical revisionism, it's a mind-bending effort to stand reality square on its head.
Seen as agents of occupation and oppression at best (and during the War of Independence as a sectarian and unbridled liquidation force) this remarkable decision to herald their existence was almost immediately beings described as an “error in judgment” with the culpable cabinet pointing fingers at each other, and then at history, and then at the Irish people themselves.
It seems increasingly certain that the so-called Black and Tans controversy was a ham-fisted attempt by the government to remind voters in the Republic of the festering resentments that a United Ireland vote could awaken were it to happen soon.
Careful now, you could almost hear them say, the way their carelessly crafted “controversy” seemed calculated to make you.
Unfortunately for them, however, the festering resentment they awakened was worldwide. Because it turns out that generations of the Irish have a Tans story to tell, none of them positive, and all of them still sharp (RIC work was increasingly overtaken in the south and northwest by this mercenary force).
You can't picture Leo Varadkar or the senior Fine Gael cabinet singing along to the Wolfe Tones “Come Out You Black And Tans” can you? Products of the leafy suburbs, they were hardly the demographic targeted in days gone by.
But Fine Gael is nevertheless the reason that the song is now number one in Ireland and (spectacularly) the UK.
That's the kind of unforeseen own goal that Behan, with his flair for the unexpected, would have adored. Because the truth is that we are all off the map now, we have all traveled far beyond the map point marked Here Be Dragons.
How do I know this? Because just this week a border in the Irish sea was voted for by the British Government, the DUP approved an Irish Language Act, Sinn Féin have voted to restore the Northern Assembly and the aforementioned “Come Out You Black And Tans” is number one.
Clearly no one is in any condition to make predictions about where we or Ireland are all going from here.
Senior cabinet members like Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan professed themselves “disappointed” that the Irish public and the wider media could not restrain their apoplexy long enough to offer a “mature” response to their unwise provocation.
But I'm not sure what "maturity" has to do with it. It's been 100 years since the formation of the Tans and the very rough work they did for His Majesty in Ireland in the early 1920s.
We are still close enough in time for that rough work to live large in the folk memory. Varadkar and Flanagan, even on their rarefied salaries, should have known that.
To turn the knife further this week The Wolfe Tones’ have announced their plans to donate the proceeds from their number-one song to charity the Peter McVerry Trust, who work for the homeless.
A “mature” democracy looks after the welfare of its most vulnerable. After all of this dreadful buffoonery, Behan would have remembered to make that point himself.
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