IT HAS been a family tradition for more than 90 years, but an Askeaton man and president of the Irish Republican Brotherhood has been turned away from celebrating an historic occasion in the Mansion House in Dublin.
Each year Billy McGuire, 70, asserts the sovereignty of the Irish nation and turns the sovereign seal in the Mansion House on January 21, and was due to do so this Tuesday.
However, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oisin Quinn, has accused McGuire of failing to treat the venue with sufficient respect following last year’s event, and he and his supporters were turned away from the house by security staff this Tuesday.
“I am absolutely devastated that we have been snubbed like that. They have wanted us out of the Mansion House for the last few years, but it has always been a great ceremony,” he told the Limerick Leader.
This ritual has been taking place every year since the declaration of Irish independence by Dail Eireann on January 21, 1919, the first day of the War of Independence.
Last year, Mr McGuire objected that the ceremony was not open to the public and that only 20 people were permitted to attend the event in the dining room of the Mansion House. In previous years, up to 75 people attended the “overlooked” event of national importance. Last year, a letter from the office of the Lord Mayor of Dublin to Mr McGuire also requested that he identify the names of all 20 people attending the ceremony before the event. Mr Quinn has accused him of not adhering to conditions set out last year, according to a report in The Sunday Times at the weekend.
As the “owner” of the sovereign seal - an IRB emblem first used in 1919 to symbolise the transition of Ireland from a colony to an independent country - Mr McGuire said January 21 is our independence day, albeit an unofficial one.
“It’s not right - everyone should be able to celebrate the sovereignty. It’s time we all stood up for our sovereignty, ” he said.
The tradition of “turning the seal” has been passed down from generation to generation in the McGuire family, and Billy took it over from his late father Martin in 1967. The 32 county election of 1918 in Vaughan’s hotel established the sovereignty of the nation and gave rise to democratically elected TDs to Dail Eireann. But the crown of England failed to officially recognise the election.