Issue Vol. 2 No. 17 of LookLeft contained an interesting article by Kevin Brannigan concerning the various monuments to the Irish dead of the Spanish Civil War.
It is regrettable that this fine article contained an inaccurate reference to protestant Republican Congress members coming under attack at Bodenstown in June 1934 from “sectarian elements within the IRA”.
The background to this unfortunate incident is as follows. The Bodenstown Commemoration Committee was always concerned to prevent the Wolfe Tone Commemoration being misused for their own purposes by persons outside the Republican Movement and to this end ordered that only banners which had previously been authorised by the committee could be carried by participants. This issue became critical in the late 1920’s when the new Fianna Fáil organisation, seeking to burnish its “Republican” credentials, participated in significant numbers in successive Bodenstown demonstrations.
The banners carried by the Republican Congress contingent in 1934, which included a number of Belfast Protestants, had not been approved by the commemoration committee and this is the reason that an attempt was made by the Tipperary Battalion to seize them. The Tipperary volunteers were not motivated by sectarianism but were responding to orders emanating from the committee organising the commemoration.
It is a cause of great regret that the commemoration committee was not prepared to ignore the Congress members’ refusal to accept the rules of participation in the commemoration – the decision to try to seize the banners was, in the circumstances, shortsighted in the extreme and therefore wrong, but it was not sectarian.
Baile Átha Cliath 4