Oireachtas beaten to its own anniversary by Sinn Fein…

World by Storm has a nice piece, which hints just how long it took the plodders at the Oireachtas Commission to decided it actually wanted the Mansion House to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the meeting of the First Dail in the fabulously renovated Round Room there on 21st January 1919. It will go ahead, but on the 20th because it seems someone had already beaten the Irish state to it for the 21st. For Sinn Fein that anniversary is not part of history, but the present. It remains an article of Sinn Fein belief they are no ordinary political party but the alternative All Irish Government-in-waiting. A coup (de etat? – ed) for Sinn Fein then; but what does it say about the complacency of the Oireachtas Commission that it failed even to take an option on such a critical date in the State’s history?

The Commission provisionally approved the programme of events subject to the proviso that the Office attempt to resolve the issue of the reservation of the Mansion House for the 21st January which is the actual anniversary date and therefore the preferred date for the commemoration celebrations.

Yeah right lads; but like Fianna Fail’s Bev Flynn problem it’s one that was already way beyond resolving; in this case when you didn’t book the place in time…

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  • Jimmy Sands

    As scripture says, leave the dead to bury the dead.

  • Dave

    There is a simple solution: cancel the booking. Let the touts-in-waiting bring a case to the small claims court as the worst outcome if they want to go down that road.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “In 1921, 100 years after its construction to receive the English Monarch, it was in this room that the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 was ratified.”

    Presumably the double booking problem won’t arise in 2011.

  • The Mansion House is owned by Dublin City Council who have total discretion over booking. One would think the Oireachtas would trump any individual political party when it comes to priority.

  • Mick Fealty

    You would think that Conall… But it’s a wee bit late in the day to realistically expect that to happen now…

    For me it’s typical of the Commission and the complacency of the Oireachtas generally that it took it for granted that it would be available when it decided to get around to thinking about it.

    Another victim of the FF interregnum? Or another example of how government views the Dail and Seanad as marginal to the business of government?

  • I’ve never understood why the date was never celebrated in any meaningful way – it’s the equivalent of the American 4th July – and yet when you pass the Mansion House you get a sign referring to the truce instead, which was important, but hardly more than declaration of independence.

  • Jimmy Sands

    We should commemorate 6th December as Independence Day

  • Earnan

    Provisional Sinn Fein has no right to hold a function there.

    I’m not sure what right they have to claim themselves of continuation of the first dail

  • Kensei


    Provisional Sinn Fein has no right to hold a function there.

    Their booking says otherwise 😛

  • Dec

    Provisional Sinn Fein has no right to hold a function there.

    I’m not sure what right they have to claim themselves of continuation of the first dail.

    I’m fairly certain the meeting of the First Dail was entirely comprised of SF MPs. Does that answer your question?

  • Rory Carr

    I enjoyed this comment by ‘Dunne and Crescendo’ in response to World By Storm’s piece:

    “Anything thing happening at Soloheadbeg on the day? Then again Dan Breen and Sean Treacy didn’t tell the First Dail about that in 1919 either!”

  • Earnan


    Don’t be smart. Sinn Fein of 1917-21 were an entirely different organization.

    SF/PIRA might have had a shred of credibility in claiming themselves the heirs of the original Sinn Fein before 1986…but certainly not now by any stretch of the imagination

  • Pancho’s Horse

    What happened after 1986?

  • Dave

    Provisional Sinn Fein has no connection whatsoever to Sinn Fein. They simply stole the name of a defunct political party as a propaganda exercise that was designed to drape a sectarian murder gang in a clock of historical legitimacy. At first, they called themselves Provisional Sinn Fein, but they later dropped the ‘Provisional’ part.

    Just as your mad old uncle in the attic may call himself Provisional Howard Hughes at first, later dropping the ‘Provisional’ part, it remains the case that the validity of his claim upon the estate of the actual Howard Hughes is as fantastical as the claim of said sectarian murder gang to the estate of Sinn Fein.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Pray tell,ó wise one, where did the’estate of Sinn Féin’ end up? And I must admit the sight of Gerry Adams with a historic clock on his shoulders did raise a smile.

  • Rory Carr

    Sinn Féin most certainly did not “At first.. call.. themselves Provisional Sinn Fein…[and] … later drop… the ‘Provisional’ part.”

    From the inception of their walk out on the MacGiolla faction and reorganisation they maintained that they were constitutionally Sinn Féin. However the IRA members who broke from the Goulding faction, maintaining that it was that faction who had surrendered the tradition were obliged to form a caretaker or provisional army council until such times as volunteer delegates could be called together in an army convention and a duly constituted army council elected.

    In the immediate aftermath the rump that they had left behind referred to themselves as the “official” IRA (in a vain attempt to convince the public that they indeed were) and scathingly referred to the now constitutionally mandated IRA as the “Provisionals” or more pejoratively as the “Provos” or, in Belfast, “Provies”. At the first Easter commemoration following upon the split the old group had a supply of Easter Lily emblems which affixed by means of a peel off adhesive backing and thus were called “Stickies” (a name which still, er, sticks”) and the “stickies” responded, using the fact that the “provisionals'” emblems were attached by a pin, by attempting to label them “pinheads”, hoping that by association they would be identified as less cerebral than the rump who fancied themselves as Marxists – Marx handily not being around to laugh at them for such silliness. But this never really caught on.

    Initially the “provo” leadership resisted the “provisional” label (Dave O’Connell, then adjutant-general, preferred that the blanket term Republican Movement be used) but eventually all that became just too tiresome and, when in early 1972 the New Statesman printed an article hailing them as Ireland’s new and undisputed revolutionaries under the heading “These are the Provisionals” which Rory O’Brady was quite pleased with, they quietly dropped all opposition to the use of the “provisional” attachment it now having become rather trendy and completely losing any pejorative inflection (except among the seething “stickies” of course).

    As they used to say on the 1950’s TV cop show, Dragnet, “The facts, ma’am. We just wanna get the facts “.

  • Mick Fealty


    I think Ken has the most cogent answer to that question. They deserve to be represented; they were certainly there.

    But the SF party of 1919 split sufficiently for us to be able to call the southern polity which followed a ‘pluralist’ democracy at least…

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Pretty good,Rory, as far as it goes. You omitted to mention that the’Stickies’ were in the majority and that your analysis holds good only in the urban areas.You omit,too, that the Provisional Alliance recruited greedily from the ranks of common criminals and drunks and this did indeed come back to bite them in the ass.

  • Pete Baker


    No individual party deserves to be at the anniversary.

    It’s an anniversary of a house of the representatives of the people.

    It is up to the current representatives of the people to celebrate that.

  • Jimmy Sands

    The room is available for hire on a commercial basis. Whoever hires it deserves to be there. Much as I despise the provos, it’s their booking and it should be honoured.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I have to laugh at these people who ‘despise’ the provos. If Collins’ IRA had gotten the bit between their teeth, they would have made the provos look like kindergarten nurses. The Old IRA were honourable and non-sectarian – my ass.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    And Mick, Sinn Féin did not split. The non-orthodox Republicans left it – just like now.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “The Old IRA were honourable and non-sectarian”

    Are you attributing that opinion to me?

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Yeah, am I mistaken? Or are you just another non-aligned hurler on the ditch of whom we have a plethora on this site.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I don’t know what you mean by that, but I am not an admire of the physical force nationalism tradition, or indeed of nationalism at all.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    There you go. You despise the provos for all the wrong reasons.

  • Dave

    “They deserve to be represented; they were certainly there.” – Mick

    They, being the Shinners, were certainly [b]not[/b] there. The Sinn Fein party that was there ceased to exist as a political party by the mid-1920s, when it split into FF and FG after a civil dispute over the Oath of Allegiance (nothing to do with partition). After that, and under the leadership of John O’Kelly, the remnants strayed into the realm of the mentally ill, believing that their deserted party was the rightful government of Ireland (despite its complete abandonment by all and sundry).

    This, of course, is the crucial difference between Sinn Fein (pre mid-1920s) and Provisional Sinn Fein. While Sinn Fein, contrary to myth, played no part in the Easter Rising, those who did asserted the principle of self-determination (Proclamation of Independence) and would be bound by it once it was secured. Those who didn’t believe in the right of the Irish people to self-government (said group of mentally ill who believed they were entitled to usurp that right) clearly didn’t have the faintest grasp of the meaning of the principle of self-determination, since it is inextricably linked to the right to self-government.

    Ergo, they bore no relation in ideological terms to the Sinn Fein (pre mid-1920s). One believed in the principle of self-determination and the other did not. Chalk and cheese. It is utter nonsense to place those who act with abject contempt for the principle of self-determination in the same category as those who died to secure it for the nation; and who, once they had secured it, understood that they were bound by it.

    Rory Carr, I accept your case. It was the Provisional IRA who later dropped the ‘Provisional’ part. However, I think it more appropriate that they drop that stolen name and replace it with a more appropriate historical name (also defunct): the Irish Parliamentary Parliament. They are now Redmondites after all, having signed-up to the ‘5th’ Home Rule bill (same as the 4th one). 😉

  • Dave

    By the way, Pete Baker is correct.

    The Shinners, presumably, will be there as they have 4 TDs, but they probably won’t have speaking rights. 😉

  • Dave

    Typo: “…the Irish Parliamentary Parliament Party.”

  • Rory Carr

    “It was the Provisional IRA who later dropped the ‘Provisional’ part.”

    No, Dave, that is not quite correct. No group ever formed as the Provisional IRA. That section of the IRA which broke away from the then leadership, ostensibly over the decision to contest and, if successful, take up seats in partitionist parliaments, north or south, but also deeply resentful of the failure to supply armed protection against loyalist gangs and the RUC in the North, simply saw themselves as the IRA. This group apponted a caretaker or ‘provisional’ Army Council whose term and brief was limited to the sole purpose of convening
    a full convention of volunteer delegates at which a properly constituted Army Council of the IRA could be duly elected. And so it came to pass.

    The ‘Provisional’ label (with a capital ‘P’) was only ever a tag-line imposed by their former disgruntled comrades who did indeed however feel the need to distinguish themselves from the IRA by insisting that they were the ‘official’ IRA and even going so far as to adopt that moniker.

    The ‘Provisional’ tag however stuck as a term of everyday use to distinguish one faction from the other and, as I explained above, was soon enough quietly (and even con brio) generally accepted by all.

    I know that this is all a bit pedantic (a “bit” I hear readers say, with a rolling of many eyes) but, as they say in the schoolyard after the fight has been broken up, “He (that’s you, Dave) started it, sir”, and we may as well get these things right don’t you think?

    Pancho’s Horse’s assertion that recruits to the IRA were mainly gleaned from among drunkards and criminals totally flies in the face of my own experience. Practically all of the leaders were tee-total and indeed drunkeness among volunteers was a disciplinary offence, but most volunteers of my acquaintance were also tee-total, often belonging to the church organisation,the Pioneers for Total Abstinence. New volunteers were also vetted for any criminal or anti-social history and I remember one volunteer, who later proved himself of great worth, who applied and was rejected three times because of earlier youthful indiscretions. He was told to go away and modify his behaviour and was practically walking old ladies across the road and being kind to sick animals before his contrition melted the stern hearts of his local batallion and they allowed him in. He did, I must admit, thereafter prove to be a holy terror – but only to the enemy.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Don’t get me wrong,Rory. Some volunteers were as you say -maybe even the majority.But some were not.

  • Rory Carr

    I have no argument with you there, Pancho’s Horse. I can only speak of my own experience which was much like schooldays, or working life come to that – most of the lads were great and I remember them with great fondness – but there were a few right nasty little bastards. I suppose it is that as a man gets older he forgets the bad parts and remembers even the nasty shits with some measure of nostalgia. But then I was never exactly the holiest boy in school meself which I don’t suppose will come as much of a surprise to those who only know my present gentle, more reserved self.

    I do try to repay those kindnesses done to me in earlier times. For example I think of all those sweet old ladies who helped me cross the road when I was but a boy and I try to pay those kindnesses back by offering to escort sweet young ladies across the road today with a, “You look in need of refreshment, dear. Shall we go and have glass or two?” Doesn’t quite seem to do the trick though. Must have something to do with “karmic” wotsits or something. I’ll be buggered if I know.