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Taoiseach and Tánaiste to address Michael Collins commemoration in Cork

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have accepted invitations to jointly address this year’s annual Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth to mark the 100th anniversary of Collins’ death in the Civil War.

Mr Martin is set to become the first Fianna Fáil taoiseach to address the commemoration, which takes place on August 21st at the monument near Crookstown in Mid-Cork, erected to mark the spot where Collins was killed.

Thanking the organising committee, the Taoiseach said “2022 is an important and sensitive year for commemorations as we remember the centenary of the onset of the Civil War. Throughout our country, we have hundreds of places where the decisive moments and personalities of our revolution are marked.

“One such place is Béal na Bláth which has a resonance that will last for centuries, capturing as it does the tragedy of a lost leader, the lost hopes and dreams of an individual who achieved so much in his short lifetime.

“The name instantly brings to mind the tragedy and loss of the towering figure of Michael Collins, and it is fitting that we come together to commemorate the centenary of his death,” said Mr Martin who will become the second Fianna Fáil politician after Brian Lenihan jnr to speak at the event.

Mr Varadkar, also thanking the committee for being invited to speak, said: “It’s important to remember that there was nothing inevitable about the creation of the Irish Free State or its survival. Many other European States have come and gone since then. Only a handful have had a hundred years of democracy and the rule of law.

“During the course of the 20th century, the Baltic States gained their independence, lost it, and then gained it again. Thirty years ago, Ukraine became self-governing for the second time – and we do not need any reminders about the attempts being made to take that away again.”

Mr Varadkar, who follows in the footsteps of his predecessor as leader of Fine Gael, Enda Kenny who also gave the address at Béal na Bláth on the 90th anniversary of Collins’s death, said the West Cork born revolutionary was “instrumental in shaping our State.”

“To me, he is first among equals among its founders. He strove, always, to do what was best for the future of our nation and took enormous risks for peace. He was both brave and pragmatic. He understood that once gains were made and consolidated, more could be achieved.”

The commemoration is held on the nearest Sunday to August 22nd, the day in 1922, when Collins was killed in an ambush by the Anti-Treaty IRA at Béal na Bláth as he returned from a tour of Free State garrisons in West Cork during the Civil War.

Michael Collins Commemoration Committee Chairman, Councillor Garret Kelleher (FG) said the committee was “delighted and honoured that, two speakers of the calibre of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, have accepted our invitation to speak at the centenary commemoration”.

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming them, members of the extended Collins family and many visitors to Béal na Bláth in August for what we hope will be a commemoration that befits the occasion and pays due honour to one of Ireland’s greatest leaders.”

Mr Kelleher said the committee was working closely with Cork County Council, An Garda Síochána, the Department of Defence and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in advance of this year’s commemoration which is expected to attract a record attendance.