A controversial newspaper columnist was shouted and spat at by angry Fianna Fail supporters after a commemoration organised by the party last week went disastrously wrong.
For reasons which remain unclear, Ireland’s most prominent anti-republican and reactionary, Eoghan Harris, was invited to deliver the address at the annual ceremony by the former government party in honour of Liam Lynch, an Irish general during the War of Independence.
Harris inevitably delivered a diatribe against republicanism and Liam Lynch himself.
Harris, who works for the notoriously anti-republican Independent News and Media group, told theose attending the commemoration in the village of Kilcrumper, near Fermoy in County Cork, that they were victims of a Liam Lynch “cult”.
He said most republicans were “moral cowards”.
“In 2016 the Irish must not play the recurring IRA’s game by waving a flag or glamorising the gunmen of 1916 or 1921. The cult of Michael Collins is no less than the cult of Liam Lynch,” said Harris.
His address caused a number of people to leave in protest, and he was heckled and booed throughout.
Many people, including members of the organising committee and local politicians, walked away in disgust before the speech was completed. One man approached the podium and spat at Harris before being led away by undercover Special Branch gardai.
The future of the annual commemoration has been called into question by a Fianna Fail county councillor in light of the debacle.
The chairman of the organising committee, Fianna Fail’s Frank O’Flynn, has now been urged to “consider his position,” by party colleague, Councillor Kevin O’Keeffe.
Sinn Fein Fermoy town councillor Seamus Coleman described Harris’s speech as “an insult to all those who fought for Irish freedom”.
“I lay the blame for this debacle firmly at the feet of the organising committee. When you ask someone like Eoghan Harris to speak at the graveside of a true Irish hero you are asking for trouble,” said Cllr Coleman.
“The Liam Lynch committee should really consider have they the memory of Lynch at heart when they allow a man to openly discredit the fight he lived for.
“Either they were ignorant of the views of Harris or for some reason felt inviting such a character would in someway cause a stir.
“Either way it was a disrespectful decision and they should consider their positions as the custodians of his memory,” he added.