16 November 2019
By Mary Bermingham
State commemorations must be held in Cork to mark the contribution of the Rebel city and county in the fight for Irish independence, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Colm Burke, a Fine Gael bye-election candidate for Cork North Central, said, “Next year Cork will be central to the story of the Decade of Centenaries. I call on the Government to hold a State Ceremony in Cork at the end of 2020 to recognise Cork’s heroic contribution to the winning of Irish independence and I will be raising this with the Taoiseach when he visits Cork today.
“In March 1920 the Lord Mayor of Cork, Tomás MacCurtain, was assassinated in his home in front of his pregnant wife (who later suffered a miscarriage).
“His successor, Terence MacSwiney, was arrested and imprisoned and died on hunger strike in a British prison in October 1920. Today bronze statues of MacSwiney and MacCurtain stand on either side of the entrance to Cork City Hall.
“When I was elected Lord Mayor of Cork in 2003, I brought along my 97-year-old cousin, Pat Curtin, a cousin of Tomas MacCurtain, and I was deeply honoured to be following in the footsteps of such distinguished predecessors. Their vision of Irish freedom should continue to inspire us, across all parties and none.
“I believe it is imperative we commemorate the deaths of our two Lord Mayors with appropriate respect and solemnity in next year’s centenary year, and I welcome the work of the City Council, led by the current Lord Mayor, John Sheehan, to plan ahead for the anniversaries.
“Cork bore witness to some of the fiercest fighting in the birth of our State. There were many events in Cork in 1920 as part of the War of Independence, including a number of significant ambushes which are known worldwide. The year culminated in the Burning of Cork in December 1920, when the city suffered massive destruction causing much hardship and suffering.
“A State Ceremony in Cork in December 2020 could be an appropriate way of marking the contribution of Cork to the Decade of Centenaries and to the winning of Irish independence.
“When our President, Michael D Higgins, spoke at Béal na Bláth in 2016 he noted that Ireland won admiration as a ‘beacon for other struggling peoples’ around the world, and the struggle and sacrifice in Cork in 1920 is an integral part of that story,” the Fine Gael Senator said.
“I will be making my views known today when the Taoiseach comes to visit Cork. It is only right that the State officially commemorates Cork’s significant history,” Senator Burke said.