Taoiseach and Tánaiste will address the Beál na Blá memorial

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Taoiseach Michaél Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar will both speak at the annual commemoration of Béal na Blá in Cork this year, marking the 100th anniversary of the death of General Michael Collins.

It will be the first time that a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach and a leader will address the gathering which marks the ambush and murder of Collins aged 31 in West Cork on August 22, 1922, in the early months of the civil war.

Accepting the invitation of the Michael Collins Memorial Committee, the Taoiseach said 2022 is an important and sensitive year for commemorations and that it is appropriate that they come together to commemorate the centenary of Collins’ death.

“Throughout our country, we have hundreds of places where the defining moments and personalities of our revolution are marked,” he said.

“One such place is Béal na Blá, 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 has achieved so much over the of his short life.

“The name instantly evokes the tragedy and loss of the towering figure of Michael Collins and it’s fitting that we come together to commemorate the centenary of his death.”

Accepting his invitation, the Tánaiste and leader of Fine Gael, said it was important to remember that there was “nothing inevitable about the creation of the Irish Free State or its survival”.

He said that Michael Collins had been instrumental in the formation of the Irish state and for him “he is first among equals among its founders”.

“Many other European states have come and gone since then,” Mr Varadkar said.

“Only a handful have had a hundred years of democracy and the rule of law.

“During the 20th century, the Baltic States gained their independence, lost it, and then regained it.

“Thirty years ago, Ukraine became self-governing for the second time – and we need no reminders of attempts to take it away again.

“Michael Collins helped shape our state, to me he is first among equals among its founders.

“He always strove to do what was best for the future of our nation and took huge risks for peace.

“He was both courageous and pragmatic. He understood that once gains were made and consolidated, more could be achieved.”

The Chairman of the Michael Collins Commemoration Committee, FG Councilor Garret Kelleher, said he was delighted and honored to have two speakers of the caliber of the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste speaking at the centenary commemoration.

The annual commemoration takes place on the Sunday closest to August 22. This year, it will take place on Sunday, August 21.

Thousands of people are expected to attend this year’s centenary commemoration, with Cork County Council currently undertaking site restoration and improvement work to improve access and facilities at the site.

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