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'Honour Provos like men of 1916'

Adams' call as State funeral for Easter Rising republican is labelled an ‘insult’ by MP

By Rebecca Black

Published 19/09/2015

Ceremony for Thomas Kent at Cork Prison before his State funeral yesterday
Ceremony for Thomas Kent at Cork Prison before his State funeral yesterday
President Michael D Higgins arrives
Thomas Kent

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has claimed that Provisional IRA members who led a killing and bombing spree in the Seventies and Eighties deserve to be ranked alongside those who took part in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Mr Adams was speaking before the State funeral in the Republic for Thomas Kent, who took part in the rebellion almost a century ago.

Kent was executed for his part in the killing of a police officer.

The State funeral was condemned by Fermanagh/South Tyrone UUP MP Tom Elliott, who claimed it was an insult to police officers and their families everywhere.

At the event in Cork, Mr Adams said it was outrageous for many politicians in the Republic to honour the 1916 patriots and then blatantly ignore republicans who died in Northern Ireland over the past 30 years.

He earlier unveiled a plaque in memory of the executed rebel at Kent Railway Station in Cork.

Mr Adams said some political leaders in the South should "hang their heads in shame" over their inconsistent approach to Irish patriotism.

"They look back (at the 1916 and War of Independence republicans) and say this was the good old IRA," he said.

"(But they then say) the hunger strikers in 1981 and other heroes of that period don't deserve the same honour."

Kent was a prominent organiser of the Irish Volunteers, a military organisation established in 1913 by nationalists.

Some 16 leaders of the Easter Rising were executed by the British.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny offered a State funeral to the Kent family earlier this year.

Thomas Kent's remains were exhumed from Cork Prison in June and he lay in state at Collins Barracks in the city until yesterday, when the funeral was held at St Nicholas' Church in Castlelyons. Irish President Michael D Higgins attended the service along with Mr Kenny, who delivered the oration.

But Mr Elliott said the State funeral was "a bit much".

"While there are many controversial anniversaries being remembered throughout this decade, I think a State funeral for a terrorist after 100 years is a bit much for many decent people to accept," he said.

"A few weeks ago my party colleague councillor Stephen Nicholl rightly criticised the Irish Government for coming up with this insult to police officers everywhere.

"Sadly, Enda Kenny would rather glorify in a romanticised history than reflect on the message this gives to young men and women of the 21st century."

Mr Elliott added: "William Rowe, a Royal Irish Constabulary policeman with five children, was viciously murdered while carrying out his duty; few would dispute that Thomas Kent was rightly convicted of the crime.

"Time has moved on and reinterring the remains in a family plot is an honourable act for his descendants to desire.

"However, the State that employs today's police service should not glorify an individual whose contribution to history was to cause the violent death of a policeman who was carrying out his duties."

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