Belfast Telegraph

PSNI museum rejects plea to lend Dublin Roger Casement's pistol for Easter Rising exhibition

By David Young

The PSNI museum is under fire for refusing to lend out a pistol belonging to British knight turned Irish rebel, Roger Casement, for an exhibition ahead of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The gun owned by Casement, who was executed for treason in the wake of the failed uprising in Dublin almost 100 years ago, is held by the police museum in Belfast.

The former British diplomat who joined the fight for Irish independence was arrested in Co Kerry in April 1916 after disembarking a German U-boat following an ill-fated gun-running mission.

He was found guilty of treason and stripped of his knighthood before he was hanged in London's Pentonville prison in August 1916.

Sinn Fein Assembly member and Casement enthusiast Oliver McMullan had asked the PSNI museum to lend out the pistol so it could be incorporated into displays in Dublin marking the significant anniversary in 18 months.

But the museum authorities have told him it cannot leave.

In a letter, the museum cited rules that "prohibit artefacts being transferred outside of the UK".

It added: "The weapon has also not been deactivated and is held on the museum's firearms licence and therefore has to remain in police custody."

Mr McMullan suggested that deactivating the artefact would not be difficult. He continued: "Art museums around the world exchange valuable collections and the PSNI is telling us they can't lend a weapon down to Dublin?"

Mr McMullan said his grandfather Daniel, a tailor in Cushendall, Co Antrim, was a great friend of Casement.

The East Antrim MLA said the pistol would be a "pivotal exhibit" in any collection marking the rising. "Roger Casement played a key role in the events surrounding the 1916 Easter Rising and that role will be commemorated during the upcoming centenary," he said.

Mr McMullan added: "I am calling on the PSNI museum to review this decision and allow this important piece of our history to be included in the 1916 centenary celebrations."

A PSNI spokesman said: "The Police Historical Society is unable to accede to this request as the pistol is not deactivated and is therefore held on a firearms certificate."

Born in Dublin and educated in Ballymena, Sir Roger Casement compiled a groundbreaking 1904 report on human rights abuses in the Congo Free State.

In 1891 he was appointed as a British consul, but later developed anti-imperialist views and joined the republican fight for Irish independence.

He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for trying to import arms, and executed for treason.

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