Kildare County Council HQ
Kildare County Council has deferred a motion on putting up a plaque honouring British army and Irish army UN soldiers killed in action.
At Kildare County Council monthly meeting on May 29, Cllr Seamie Moore proposed the members and Kildare County Council, honour the military men from the Dublin Fusiliers Regiment who were killed whilst on service abroad in World War 1 and those from the Irish Defence Forces who were killed on active duty overseas with the United Nation Peace Corps.
Both of those groups answered the call to serve that military duty from their base in The Army Barracks in Naas, or Devoy Barracks, now Áras Chill Dara.
Cllr Moore proposed erecting a memorial plaque, before the end of 2018, jointly commemorating their memories and their ultimate sacrifices, perhaps including their names, on the Archway and Clock Tower Building, through which they marched to their eternal response.
In a response from the Council executive, Maura McIvor, Senior Executive Officer, Corporate Services said: “This is a matter for the members. The erection of a plaque or other memorial would have to be considered under the Civic Memorial Policy, yet to be adopted.”
Cllr Moore (Ind) was disappointed with the answer.
He said there was a strong tradition linking Naas with the Dublin Fusiliers. The barracks was there since 1823.
He said the numbers killed in the war from Naas were big and it would be seen as a catastrophe if it happened today.
Cllr Michael Coleman (FF), a former Irish Defence Forces members, fully supported the motion. “No one should have to wait a hundred years to be honoured, he said.
Cllr Padraig McEvoy (Ind) said the Council’s Decade of Commemoration committee should look at this.
Cllr Ide Cussen (SF) said they should have two plaques because one army was an “imperial army” and one was a United Nations one. “As a republican I am opposed to imperial wars. We cannot rewrite history,” she said.
Cllr Cussen said many people became “canon fodder. “They should be completely separate but inclusive,” she said of the proposal.
Cllr Brendan Young said Cllr Cussen’s proposal was probably the best.
He said British army soldiers were essentially recruited by poverty and were not paid well or looked after well. “They were badly used and badly served,” he concluded.
Cllr Fintan Brett supported Cllr Moore’s one plaque proposal.
Cllr Joanne Pender (Ind), whose relative fought in World War 1, said: “People had no choice to feed their families. They joined (the British Army) not for the cause but to feed their families.”
Cllr Joe Neville (FG) supported the motion. It was quite difficult to unravel the two because there were different values within families. “I think we have to recognize them altogether. He pointed to a memorial plaque in Dungarvan, county Waterford.
Cllr Reada Cronin (SF) said she supported the sentiments but felt there should be two plaques. She noted that executed 1916 Leader, James Connolly, was a member of the British Army and a lot of (Irish) freedom fighters were members of the British Army.
Cllr Cronin predicted there will be difficulties when it comes to considering the role of the so called Black and Tans British army division.
Mayor Ivan Keatley said there was broad support for the motion and it was agreed that it would be discussed by the Decade of Commemoration committee.