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'We were surprised': Calls to remove words 'Fianna Fáil' from national anthem in public consultation

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daily said that there were a “number of submissions” asking for this.

Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

A RECENT PUBLIC consultation on the national anthem received a number of submissions proposing that the words “Fianna Fáil” are removed from Amhrán na bhFiann.

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly, who coordinated the Seanad’s public consultation on the issue, said that calls to remove the name of the political party from the song is “simply populism”.

Translated as soldiers/warriors of Ireland, or of destiny, the words fianna and fáil appear in the first line of the national anthem.

“While every person is entitled to put forward their opinions on the national anthem, we were surprised to receive a number of submissions which proposed changing the lyrics of Amhrán na bhFiann,” Daly said.

There is no public support, I believe, for changing the wording of Amhrán na bhFiann.

The copyright on Amhrán na bhFiann, which was composed in 1907 by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney, is due to expire – prompting the revision and review of how it should be treated by its citizens.

The song, which is written in Irish, was used by rebels during the 1916 Easter Rising, by the IRA during the War of Independence and was and was used often at military functions as a popular Irish Army tune.

It was informally adopted as the national anthem of the Irish Free State in May 1924, and subsequent legislative changes up until as recently as 2013 have strengthened its legal position since.

The idea to remove these words from the national anthem was mooted several years ago, but this was ruled out by Fine Gael’s Michael Noonan.

He was responding to calls from independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan who had asked for his views on whether the phrase ‘Sinne Fianna Fáil’ should be re-translated so that it might not reflect the political party of the same name.

The line in the song, however, was written before Fianna Fáil was founded by Eamon De Valera.

Daly said: “In fact, the Irish language version, translated by Liam Ó Rinn from Peadar Kearney’s original English language version, was first published in the Freeman’s Journal on 3 April 1923, under Ó Rinn’s pen name ‘Coinneach’, three years before Fianna Fáil was even established.

Those who still harbour partisan, political positions need to reflect on their position. Amhrán na bhFiann, irrespective of one’s political loyalties, has been, and remains a source of national unity.

He added that Fianna Fáil would never support such a measure as to remove those words from the anthem.

The Seanad’s public consultations committee will meet this Tuesday to hear from the Minister for Finance, the Defence Forces, the Lord Mayor of Cork, schools, experts on copyright and members of the Deaf Community.

With reporting from Gráinne Ni Aodha.

Read: How should we protect our national anthem? The Seanad wants your input

Read: Fianna Fáil wants a new law to protect the national anthem

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Sean Murray

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