Government tribute to executed IRA men stirs debates

Friday, October 12, 2001

DUBLIN, Ireland -- The government plans to honor 10 IRA men, hanged long ago by the British and buried inside a grim Dublin jail, are stirring memories of Ireland's brutal battle for independence -- and modern-day arguments about political opportunism and terrorism. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has suffered a welter of criticism for his decision to oversee full state funerals this Sunday for the 10 men, whose bodies have been exhumed from Mountjoy Prison.

He plans a graveside oration in Glasnevin Cemetery, resting place of a pantheon of Irish rebels from centuries past, after a Roman Catholic Mass and procession through the streets of north Dublin.

There is support to honor men involved in the Irish Republican Army's 1919-1921 guerrilla war against Britain.

But rival parties accuse Ahern of exploiting the men's memory for the advantage of his Fianna Fail party.

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