The Institute’s name recognises the crucial role which Michael Collins played in the creation of the Irish State and the special position he occupies in the affections of many citizens today. A participant in the Rising of 1916, he became a member of the first Dáil (Irish parliament) in 1919. He subsequently served in a number of positions in the revolutionary government including Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Finance and Director of Intelligence. He was a leading negotiator and supporter of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, before becoming Chairman of the Provisional Government in 1922.
Although Collins died before the establishment of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party in 1923, which in turn evolved into Fine Gael in 1933, the founders of Cumann na nGaedheal very clearly viewed the “Big Fella” as both their inspiration and their lost leader. In 2012, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny became the first serving head of Government since 1924 to give the annual oration at Béal na mBlath, the spot where Collins was ambushed and killed during the Irish Civil War. Collins has been variously described by current Fine Gael members of the Government, in speeches at Béal na mBlath, as “the father of Irish democracy” (Michael Noonan); an “ideas person, as much as a soldier and a political leader” (Simon Coveney); and a man who “has given us a compelling inheritance of politics and leadership as they should be” (Enda Kenny). Collins expressed through his writings a modernist view on such issues as the need to foster a supportive environment for enterprise.