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Senator cries foul over FF's Collins speech

A FINE Gael senator has criticised the impending appearance of Brian Lenihan at the annual Michael Collins commemoration.

Senator Liam Twomey revealed he is not in favour of the Finance Minister becoming the first Fianna Fail politician to deliver the Beal na mBlath oration.

The event, which is a predominantly Fine Gael occasion, is to be held in West Cork on August 22.



Against

Mr Lenihan was invited by the Beal na mBlath commemoration committee.

But in a letter, Wexford-based Mr Twomey stated: "I'm against the idea of a Fianna Fail Minister addressing a Beal na mBlath event for Michael Collins.

"Beal na mBlath is almost the soul of Fine Gael. It's recognising the sacrifice Michael Collins made for Ireland. It's the heartland of what Fine Gael stands for."

He added: "Nothing personal against Brian Lenihan; it's just what he stands for. He's a Fianna Fail Government Minister. I do actually feel quite put out by the fact that a Fianna Fail Minister is doing the Beal na mBlath ceremony."

The site of the ceremony commemorates the spot where Collins was shot and killed during a Civil War ambush.

"The things Michael Collins stood for, not just as a leader in the War of Independence but also as minister for finance, were transparency, accountability and taking responsibility for your actions," Dr Twomey said.

"If there's one thing you can say about the Fianna Fail administration, it's that it doesn't stand for those principles. It's the polar opposite of what Fine Gael and Michael Collins stood for," he wrote in a letter to the Irish Times today.

When informed of the invitation, Mr Lenihan said: "I am greatly honoured that the first time the Collins family have invited a Fianna Fail minister to give the oration they picked me."



Process

The Beal na mBlath Committee chairman, Cllr Dermot Collins, said it was time the oration, which has been non-political for some time, had a Fianna Fail speaker.

"In the present climate, with the way that things have moved on in the country -- especially with the peace process in the North and the way in which the process was further copper-fastened recently -- we felt it was time to move on too," he said.

hnews@herald.ie