Local historian gives thoughts on Michael Collins commemoration

A Tipperary historian and author says the legacy of Michael Collins “belongs to the people.”

John Flannery told Tipp Today the commemoration of the lost leader should be a nationwide event and shouldn’t be politicised.

He expressed concern about people claiming jurisdiction over Collins’ legacy but says if Ireland’s leaders were not in attendance for the centenary yesterday, that would have caused issues too.

John revealed who he believes killed Michael Collins in Béal na mBláth 100 years ago.

“I have looked at this for several years, really back since the Colm Connolly documentary, which was aired on RTÉ back in the 80s. I mean, I have researched it and looked at it every which way you can. I find it very, very hard to come to any other conclusion other than that it was Sonny O’Neill that fired that shot. If you examine who was present in Beal Na mBlath on the day, of the Anti-Treaty side, the only one who was in a position to fire shot was Sonny O’Neill.”

He believes if Sonny O’Neill was responsible, it was not deliberate; he was just providing cover for his men and did not recognise it was Collins when he fired the shot.

John gave a few examples to back up his theory.

“If you look at the theory that he was killed by one of his own, why did members of the Anti-Treaty side, meeting in 1964 in Cork, come out and issue a statement saying that they were responsible for the death of Collins? I mean, it was an ideal propaganda thing for them to use against the provisional government of the day that they’d even shot one of their own leaders. At no stage did they do that. Why would they miss such a propaganda opportunity? Why would they come out and say it was one of their men who killed him?