Michael Brennan
Daily Ireland

The revolutionary leader Michael Collins has been airbrushed out of history, it was claimed yesterday.
A new society, Collins 22, has been set up to publicise the achievements of the west Cork native on the 115th anniversary of his birth on October 16, 1890.
Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins spoke at the launch of the society. He said not enough recognition had been given to Collins’ role as a leader in the War of Independence.
“We’re here to recognise the fact that a man of dedication, vision and unquestionable leadership qualities has been airbrushed from Irish history for far too long,” he said.
He said Collins had built up a complex network of spies that had penetrated Dublin Castle, the nerve centre of British rule in Ireland, and had used innovative military tactics during the war.
“He recognised that you couldn’t get rid of the British with conventional warfare methods. He devised a whole new structure, the ambush guerrilla tactics,” Mr Higgins said.
Collins had been head of the provisional government when he was killed in an ambush in Béal na Bláth in Cork in 1922 during the Civil War.
Mr Higgins said the tantalising question of what would have happened if Collins had lived could never be easily answered.
The MEP for the Northwest constituency said he believed that Collins would have not ignored the discrimination against nationalists in the North and would have put a process in train that would have prevented the outbreak of the Troubles.
Although Collins was never a member of Fine Gael, the party claims a link with him because of his association with the members of the provisional government who went on to form Cumann na nGaedheal and later Fine Gael.
Fine Gael members accounted for five of the seven speakers at the Collins 22 launch in the historic round room of the Mansion House, where the first Dáil met in 1921.
They included party leader Enda Kenny and former justice minister Nora Owen, a grandniece of Michael Collins. The former MEP Mary Banotti, another grandniece, also attended.
Collins 22 organiser Bill Martin said: “We have people from all parties but essentially it’s a Fine Gael-led and supported society.”
He said the society would campaign to put Michael Collins at the centre of Irish history.
“All we want to do is have the man honoured. America honoured George Washington. We became independent from England in 1921 when they signed the treaty, so why isn’t there a statue of Michael Collins outside the Dáil?” he asked.
A statue of Michael Collins has been erected in Clonakilty. His life was the subject of a Neil Jordan film in 1996.