Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Easter Rising - the blood sacrifice that changed Irish politics forever

There were, arguably, two pointless blood sacrifices in the early part of the last century with a special relevance for Ireland.  One was the First World War and the other was the Easter Rising.

It is probable that there would have been some form of Irish independence without the Rising, and the sharp divisions it introduced into Irish politics.

It is also probable that any independent state that emerged would have been more pluralistic, as it would have had to carry the support of the unionists/Protestants of the island.

The following article is by Stephen Collins, and appeared in Saturday's Irish Times.  Thanks to C for bringing it to our attention.


The murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr on the eve of Easter by people who describe themselves as Irish republicans should prompt deep reflection on the legacy of the 1916 Rising and the plans for the commemoration of its centenary.

There is no shirking the fact that the people who planted the bomb that killed Constable Kerr regard themselves as the heirs of the 1916 tradition, and would claim that their inspiration came from the Rising.
It is easy to dismiss such claims; much harder to recognise that they have a perverted logic that requires us to examine 1916 in an open-minded and honest fashion.

The central problem is that the Rising has been taken out of context and elevated into the supreme founding event of the modern Irish state when, in fact, it was one event in a series between 1912 and 1923 that changed the political structure of the country.

Taken in isolation, the Rising can indeed be interpreted as an endorsement of violent and anti-democratic action. What is so little understood in the popular version of Irish history is that with the passage of the third Home Rule Bill in 1912, Ireland was going to have its own parliament one way or another. John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Party, had mass popular support, and it was generally accepted that he would be the dominant force in a Home Rule parliament.

All those assumptions were swept aside by the Rising and the events that followed. The precise powers of an Irish parliament and the area over which it would have sovereignty were changed significantly by the Rising, but the central principle that the people of Ireland would have control of their own affairs was already established in 1912.

Two events that followed precipitated the Rising. The first was the establishment of the Ulster Volunteer Force as a mass movement designed to block Home Rule by violence. The support of the opposition Conservative Party for its illegal methods gave it enormous and sinister force, which prompted the formation of the Irish Volunteers as a nationalist counter reaction.

The second event was the outbreak of the first World War. It not only changed the political context, it gave respectability to the concept of blood sacrifice and political martyrdom promulgated by Pádraig Pearse. His beliefs, which appear very strange to most modern Irishmen and Irishwomen, have to be seen in the context of the bloodbath that engulfed the European continent.

If it had not been for the violent opposition to Home Rule, or for the war, Ireland would in all likelihood have continued on a path that would have led to independence, probably along the lines of Canada or Australia.
The Rising transformed the political situation utterly, but what cannot be overlooked is that it was an undemocratic project of a minority within a minority and was far from a popular revolt. The destruction of Dublin, the courage of the rebel leaders and, most important, the executions that followed, turned the tide of public opinion.

It marked the end of John Redmond’s authority as the political leader of Irish nationalism and triggered a violent approach to the achievement of nationalist aims. As the Times of London noted, the Sinn Féin movement “from the first was directed as much against Mr Redmond and the Nationalist Party as against Great Britain”.

For all the violence of 1916 and later years, the independence movement did not discard its democratic roots. The fact that an independent Ireland is one of the oldest continuous parliamentary democracies in the world is a tribute to the roots planted by Redmond and his predecessors, Parnell and O’Connell. Redmond would surely feel at home in the Dáil chamber, even if his oratory was of a higher quality than that usually on offer in Leinster House. By contrast, it is hard to believe that leaders of the 1916 Rising who seized control of Irish nationalism from him would be quite as happy with how things turned out. Modern Ireland is hardly the Gaelic-speaking, devoutly Catholic, anti-materialist nation dreamed of by Pearse. Neither is it the dictatorship of the proletariat envisaged by James Connolly.

The distorted version of history that traces Irish independence solely to 1916, and the Fenian tradition from which it sprang, has provided ideological cover for the minority in successive generations who have tried to destroy it. In his pioneering reassessment of 1916, written in 1966 for the journal Studies but only published in 1972, Francis Shaw pointed out the layers of contradiction inherent in the popular myth of modern Irish history. He was particularly concerned that it “asks us to praise in others what we do not esteem in ourselves” by disowning democratic values in favour of the cult of the gun.

In the Dáil this week, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams he would establish a consultative group to plan a commemorative programme in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of 1916. This would reflect not only the military history but the principles and vision that inspired the movement to achieve independence.

Kenny could start by ensuring Redmond and the Irish parliamentary tradition are properly commemorated next year, the 100th anniversary of the Home Rule Bill. In recent years Irish governments have accepted the need to appreciate the unionist tradition on this island. Surely we can acknowledge the role of constitutional nationalism in the creation of an independent Ireland.

If we want to take a mature look back, we could even go one step further and acknowledge that it was not just rebel gunmen who died for Ireland. The first casualty of the Rising was a 45-year-old unarmed policeman from Co Limerick, Constable James O’Brien. He was standing at the entrance to Dublin Castle shortly before noon on Easter Monday when a volunteer cycled up to the gate and shot him dead.

If we are now “mature” enough to respect the unionist tradition, surely we have also grown up sufficiently, and endured enough pointless violence, to honour the ordinary Irish policeman like O’Brien who died trying to preserve the peace.

Stephen Collins, Irish Times, April 16th, 2011


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Ella said...

Hi GM, Entirely off topic but given that you have no comments on this and that does seem a shame. Did you hear that Joe Higgins said today we should ask Queen Elizabeth of England to pay a contribution towards her B&B when she visits, given that the security operation is going to cost some eur 25 million of our cash.

The Gombeen Man said...

That's fine, Ella. As long as he asks Barack and every other visiting dignitary to do likewise...

nick durham said...

I wonder if one could erect a memorial plaque in memory of the murdered policeman James O'Brien -right next to the one on the wall of City Hall glorifying that murderous attack by Sean Connolly et al.

Anonymous said...

The article below from The Irish Independent is well worth reading and sums up much of my sentiments about 1916. The main theme of the article is: what were they fighting for and whom were they fighting?

So many Irish Catholics were killed in this meaningless fiasco. Dominion status was on the cards like Canada and Australia, and both of countries have done very well.

What the Irish Republicans were fighting for was later summed up in 1948 the Irish coalition government led by John A. Costello at the behest of the Papal Nuncio Paschal Robinson (27 Nov 1929 - 27 Aug 1948), The President Sean T. O’Kelly and The Taoiseach John A. Costello sent the following fawning, obsequious message to Pius XII, when Ireland became a dominion of the Vatican and a plaything for the Roman Catholic Church.

John A. Costello wrote:
(“ We the Irish people desire to repose at the feet of Your Holiness the assurance of our filial loyalty and our devotion to your August person, as well as our firm resolve to be guided in all our work by the teachings of Christ and to strive for the attainment of a social order in Ireland based on Christian principles”).

The Catholic Church always has been the trouble, and still is the trouble with Ireland.

Kevin Myers: FF celebratory plans for the Easter Rising a load of claptrap


Anonymous said...

1916 did not cause partition, whatever else it did. Partition was inevitable, whether we had Home Rule or Dominion Status and it would have cost a bloody civil war to avoid it with Home Rule, ten times bloodier than the 1916, the War of Independence, the Civil War and the Troubles put together. You don't think those 25,000 rifles and 3m rounds of ammunition wouldn't have been put to use in that event. The War of Independence was run on a shoestring in comparision.

Of course there is the persistent myth that Home Rule was the same as Dominion Status or would have led to Dominion Status. The irony of ironies is that Northern Ireland got Home Rule. They didn't go for Dominion Status in the fifty that they had Home Rule. Why if Dominion Status was little better than Home Rule did the British government fight tooth and nail to deny it.
In the end they lost and had to concede independence to this country with the only concession being that we would share a monarch.
No, it is not 1916 which is the comfort for the dissidents, but the fact every single political party here believes in achieving a united Ireland, despite the fact that over a million British citizens do not want it and that there is no compelling reason that it should be so. But rather than question this dogma, something which would be far less popular, Stephen Collins and Kevin Myers and many others go back again and again to the well of denegrating 1916 and the War of Independence.

The effect of all this is to undermine the legitimacy of the State in the popular mind, which is partly the cause of a lack of civic or community spirit in this country.


Anonymous said...

The big problem with Ireland that it tried to emulate the “British Royal Enclosure” class system in order to exclude the “Hoi polloi”.

The Irish Royal Enclosure was group of Western Irish speaking “hillbillies’ who were very strongly affiliated to the dictates of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. The society became more and more corrupt with the idiotic idea that God was on their side. GOD WAS NOT!!!

Anonymous said...

As far as I can see it was a gang of jackeen barrow boys who ruined the country, Haughey, Ahern, Burke, Lawlor, Lenihan etc.

The Gombeen Man said...

As a true Jackeen of many generations, let me summarily exclude B-B-B-Bertie on the damning grounds that both his old pair hail from Cork.

anna said...

Irish education woefully failed past generations,. One failure was teaching MUCH anti British hatred- these were the same Brits that accepted waves of Irish Every time this country messed up.
I Never saw anything like it- even with northerners who lost family to the security forces( unless ,maybe in die hard deprived republican areas- which I never go near) : after the 1979 Warrenpoint bomb, I met 16 yr old Vera, (brought up in Chicago and Tyrone, her father was from Cork and mother from NI). Vera had written to an English friend how Funny it was 18 soldiers had been blown up. The friend replied it wasn’t one Bit funny- one was her brother. Vera ( a bright 16 yr old- at one of NI’s best schools) laughed this off ’ I Had to write and apologise.’. Her NI Mother would Never have instilled this - it all came from her father who was given to these kind of utterances..
The Blithe acceptance of any violence against anything Remotely British just shocks me-and I think it must be a serious flaw in the Irish psyche- encouraged by an education system that favoured rote learning and obedience over thinking for yourself and a catholic church that drummed obedience into people.
A recent comment on politics ie. was it was ok to kill as a young protestant census girl in NI in 1981- just because SF were against the census. The poster said ‘ Yes that was the times- the census was part of the state!!!’ Yeah, and the Falls Rd dole office where Gerry Adams signed on for many years was also part of the state- and its workers weren’t shot in the head, like 25 yr old census girl Joanna Mathews. It never seems to bother people down here that the IRA killed More ordinary Catholics then the Crown forces or loyalists ( as John Hume said) .
NOPE- any Viol eve which could be seen as in any way Against the Brit is A GOOD THING.If the IRA had killed as many here as NI would so many people here have blindly supported them? I met a nut while at college in England, Noël from Mayo. I tried to tell him the IRA were NOT good guys . He’d blink, bewildered, and say ‘ You’re saying this because you’re a NI protestant, aren’t you.?’ No I’m not- but I shuddered to think he was going on work Placement to Belfast- where I am sure he upset many horribly bereaved people with this nonsense. And he was at College.
People in ROI often hold these truths to be Self Evident -And I think this Attitude is Simply Brain Washing;
*Any violence against anything loosely construed as the British is GOOD.
*If you’re Irish- you must Hate the brits.
*The world loves the Irish- and also Hates the brits
* The brits are illegally occupying the north-this somehow misses that 1) IRA waged an ILLEGAL and terrible war for 28 yrs 2) Recent referenda nod elections do not show the majority in NI voting for parties which want union with the south, therefore the Demcratic wishes of the majority in NI are to stay the same - until the majority want change-as is stated in the Good Friday agreement..
It’s all bred of bad education- and isolation. Those who hold these beliefs most strongly often worst educated and usually those who hardly ever left and worked aboard for a few years. BUT it’s a Shockingly skewed view of How Much The Brits Are Hated All Over the world- the same brits who took our victims of institutional abuse yearning to breathe free- and 100,000s of economic refugees , probably Most of ALL in this current crisis

anna said...

Many people in ROI have never been to NI, but get upset by how dreadfully NI Catholics were treated by the brits.Well NI Catholics had a far better standard of living, health, free education, housing, social mobility etc then down here (I‘m 50 and I did well by growing up there- not here ) -
BUT YES there was discrimination and bad things happened before the troubles- the IRA got a hold as the brits were slow to reform. Bloody Sunday etc gave the IRA much credibility . I’ll skip the actions of Crown forces and loyalists etc - worst was the British forces tacitly supported loyalist paramilitarities ( Does not excuse IRA bloodbath but partly explains it- after all this was NI Catholics OWN government we couldn’t trust ).Collusion probably stopped @ time of John Major @ 1990( it was about then that I stopped reading of allegations of collusion ).
I DO agree with EI- this tacit collusion with loyalists only really went about 21 yrs ago, was there in 1912 and turned a blind eye to Loyalist gun smuggling. AND the Curragh mutinity.
EI says does any one believe1912 Loyalist guns wouldn’t have been used?? Hard to say - if a government has been set up that was run by the catholic church and was vindictive to protestants then Yes .
But if there was no WW1 and no 1916 Rising? Would the Irish state have been established in blood shed? Or would talks have gone on to establish the best model? WHY does any former colony have to be established in blood shed? IS this necessary? ( Norway split bloodlessly from Sweden - yes I know the Swedes were benign governors- but British rule in early C20 was one of the most benign ever- and real advances were about to come through for the poorest British people and Ireland would also have benefited) .
Would the British state and NI unionists Really have minded not being directly under Westminster- if both British and Irish traditions had been respected in an Irish state?? Isle of Man ,Guernsey and Jersey are British islands ( and British passport holders) and see themselves as Manx. Guernaise etc BUT also British.
Could a Federal Irish state have been established in the early C20? -
2 provincial governments- meeting in a central one in Dublin- OR in Belfast, which in 1900 was the Biggest city in Ireland?
The Worst Excesses of the Shocking cruel catholic theocracy would have been avoided- if an all Ireland parliament Had to consider protestant people.
From 1990 many changes occurred; I Think the subset of the British official mind that tacitly Always supported loyalties ( no matter how illegal and blood soaked ) against Catholic Ireland has vanished for good:
Tony Blair apologised for famine: Cameron for bloody Sunday : Cease fires : Peace; Good Friday agreement: Cross border Referendums: NI assembly with close co-operation between SF/DUP. Now the Queen is coming-a Huge leap forward in the maturity of this nation. Afte all the Queen has been to Many former colonies- apart from here - Yet Ireland was the Oldest one to break away.
Ireland today: Peace. Will Ireland be reunited? Only if majority in NI ever want it- something that can’t be forced.
Did we get to this time because of the 1916 Rising: NO- it Delayed it by many decades. Do look up on Wiki : John Redmond; Home Rule Acts: Francis Shaw - he was a renowned historian- also a catholic priest who thought the leaders of EASTER. rising were committing a Heresy.!
The events of C20 Irish history which most deserve to be commemorated:
EASTER Rising- Or Good FRIDAY agreement? The latter of course- because it was brought about for All those who died needlessly for this country - and had as its aim the hope of a better C21 for All the people on this island.

The Gombeen Man said...

True Anna. What would have happened without the 1916 Rising is pure conjecture. What DID happen with it, however, and the polarisation it brought about, is not. Also, every manifestation of phyical force republicanism since then used it as a fig leaf to cover their lack of mandate.

I, for my part, doubt the theory of a bloodbath if things had been allowed to take their course. Many of the Ulster Volunteers left their bluster, their rifles and their lives behind in the fields of Flanders (as did Redmond's branch of the Irish Volunteers).

I doubt, post war, that the appetite for domestic bloodbath would have been strong on either side. I believe - and it is only my conjecture - that we would all have ended up in a better place, without the sectarianism, strife and prejudice of the Catholic and Protestant statelets that did emerge.

Dakota said...

I wonder what the members of the Nationalist party would have made of the last 95 years on this island? Would they have set in motion the disaster which took hold in Ireland? No, I don't think they would have. As always in Ireland, irony and cruel fate are the only winners....Cronyism, corruption, clientelism and a State ruled from the vatican was all that came out of the blood sacrifice of 1916.
One of the most telling facts of the embronic State was it's shunning of the memory of the many thousands of Irish individuals that gave their lives for the FREEDOM OF SMALL NATIONS. The reality of the first 20 years or so of the new State wouldn't have been as tragic for these lost individuals, if they didn't have the full support of the Irish population before they left for the trenches. A support it must be said, basking in the certain knowledge that Home Rule was going to be granted imminently.
Who is to say what Ireland would have looked like if Home Rule became a reality. Could Ireland have laid the gradual basis for sustained economic growth? In my opinion yes it could have. Could an overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland eventually gained full sovereignty based on pluralist concepts, which actually celebrated diversity and not shun it? In my opinion yes it could have.
All academic questions and all academic answers but again in my opinion, the aspirations which were the legacy of the leaders of the Nationalis party, could have been a far more effective way of establishing a gradual transition to democracy. A transition based on the ballot box and not the gun.

What has been achieved in the last 95 years? Ironically....the great dream of a Catholic country is no longer a viable reality as the new form of market capitalism based in many ways on the reverse of the traditional work and thrift based ethic, of the past, (most notable in the 20 years) has reversed all that. In effect the blood sacrifice of 1916 was for nothing. I wonder if this island was in the midst of an economic boom now, would there be any active disident groups? I have a feeling these self styled groups are as patriotic as pond water and there main motivation is that old Irish chestnut of opportunity and long grass.

Anonymous said...

There would have been no bloodbath. Home Rule would not have been imposed on a united Ireland. The British government would have backed down in the face of opposition from the military establishment as it did in March 1914 We would have ended up with the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. But to say that one event, such as 1916, changed the course of history is an historical fallacy. We are not taught that the shooting in Sarajevo was the sole cause of the First World War (there were eight causes as far as I can remember.) This is the problem with counterfactual history. History takes a particular course because of long term changes or trends, not because of particular events. If 1916 had not happened something else would have precipitated the War of Independence, just as some other event would have precipitated the First World War. In Ireland, that trend had been building, probably since the fall of Parnell. Since then there was the founding of Sinn Fein, the Gaelic League and the GAA. Diarmuid Ferriter recently casually dropped a very interesting statistic into a article in the Irish Times without comment; between the 1910 election and the 1918 election the Irish electorate increased from 700,000 to 2 million. (The Representation of the People Act 1918 had given the vote to all men over 21 and women over 30; previously, there was a property qualification). The 1918 election was, of course the one in which Sinn Fein replaced the the Nationalist party as the dominant political force. The clear implication is that the supporters of the Nationalist party were the moneyed Catholic middle class, the gombeens. As a result they secure postions for their sons and nephews in local government and in the Church hierarchy. On the other hand, it was the unpropertied who supported Sinn Fein and made up the rank and file of the Volunteers, the Gaelic League and the GAA. The result of the 1918 election bears this out.

No, graft, greed and sectarianism, did not begin with 1916.

As for "the great dream of a Catholic country" this was not Sinn Fein policy nor that of the IRB. What is the basis for this claim? Perhaps the Catholic bishops and some individuals on the margins, such as D P Moran, had such a dream. Besides the Catholic Church had well secured its grip by 1916, as witness the fall of Parnell, and was against the War of Independence, going so far as to excommunicate some Volunteers. But as always the Church switched sides as soon as it sensed which way the wind was blowing.


Dakota said...

EL, I don't know who you are addressing your post to, it's not exactly clear. If it's me, I don't know why everytime I give my view on this subject I invoke controversy. There are certain items in your post, I feel I must contest nonetheless.

"There would have been no bloodbath. Home Rule would not have been imposed on a united Ireland," WHAT does that mean and WHAT IS YOUR BASIS FOR THIS?
"But to say that one event, such as 1916, changed the course of history is an historical fallacy," OH Lord here we go again...funny how you mention the little thing of a shooting in Sarajevo as well. Now just to say at this juncture, I never said that 1916 was the starting point, I did imply that 1916 was a psychological impetuous for the reality which characterised the last 20 years in ROI. The events which led up to 1916 were equally important, I thought that was self explanatory. Funny how you immediately jumped on that without weighing up exactly what I meant.

Now what about your asseertion that there was counterfactual history here (again as it's not clearly addressed to me I can't answer it directly), when you say that something else would have instigated WWI or the War of Independence (why compare these two events, by the way?), well what's your basis for those ascertions, if your strict self assured view of history is to be adhered to? Who's being counterfactual now? Also when you say the impetuous towards the War of Independece was building from (PROBABLY!!) Parnell onwards, EM, what do you base that on?
Just to hammer the point home, there is no doubt, that a significant change in the Irish psyche had taken place in the 19th century and I do acknowledge that events were probably overtaking the Nationalist Parties view of Ireland, but my main contention remains, WHY when Home Rule was on the statute books would a doomed rising be instigated? Just to say again for posterity sake, it's the old Irish chestnut of opportunity and long grass! Also from my text I thought I made it clear that in anyones language (and not necessarily from a historic point of view) it was a waste, of time, money, human and animal life and hope for the future. Can you contest that?

When you say "no, graft, greed and sectarianism, did not begin with 1916," Yep, but it legitimised it.

Emmm, “as for "the great dream of a Catholic country" this was not Sinn Fein policy nor that of the IRB,”ah yes, sure isn't religious freedom written into the Proclamation. Yeah and so is the guarantees of equal rights and opportunities. The IRB, GAA etc were unfortunately overwhelmingly Catholic organisations. Fundamentally there lieth the rub. Whether or not they offically wanted a Catholic State is irrelevant, as you said yourself, the impetous and polarisation was building prior to 1916. Do you honestly believe it was one based on religious tolerance and freedom, maybe officially but that's about all. There's the little thing of Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
Even the concepts of equality and opportunity where only available to those who toed the line and fitted the criteria.

The Gombeen Man said...

True, Dakota. It's also worth mentioning that when Gaelic League was founded it contained a fair smattering of protestants (including its founder). However, it was later taken over by those who peddled a particuluar exclusive, Catholic Irishness. Many of those who went on to make up the new Irish State were Gaelic Leaguers.

Anonymous said...

'I don't know why everytime I give my view on this subject I invoke controversy.'

Is not the point to invoke controversy, or to put it less emotively, to invoke debate, or are "contrarian" views to be avoided.

'"There would have been no bloodbath. Home Rule would not have been imposed on a united Ireland," WHAT does that mean and WHAT IS YOUR BASIS FOR THIS?'

Apart from the outcome of "the Curragh Incident", this is what actually happened. Arguing that Britain could not impose unity, Walter Long's committee on the Irish Question recommended the creation of two parliaments - the result, the Government of Ireland Act. Partition was to be imposed rather than unity.

'I never said that 1916 was the starting point, I did imply that 1916 was a psychological impetuous for the reality which characterised the last 20 years in ROI'

Is this not what you wrote; "Cronyism, corruption, clientelism and a State ruled from the vatican was all that came out of the blood sacrifice of 1916". Is this not the title of this thread; "The Easter Rising - the blood sacrifice that changed Irish politics forever"

There is no basis for saying that the outcome would have been any different with the Nationalist party. The Nationalist party was dominated by the Catholic Church, Catholic priests making up about a third of the attendance at party conventions. Moreover, during its long wait for Home Rule it devoted its time to furthering Catholic interests, e.g. the National University in 1908. Its principal mainstay was the Ancient Order of Hibernians, regarded as synonymous with jobbery, machine politics and sectarianism. One of the reasons for the decline of the Nationalist party was its association in the mind of the young lower middle class voter with "uninspiring gombeenism".

I can find no basis anywhere for Stephen Collins' assertion of Pearse's dream of a "devoutly Catholic" independent Ireland. Certainly, a Gaelic-speaking, anti-materialist nation were his aims. The latter would have avoided the worst excesses of the past 10 years, but I think the appeal of the Nationalist party for contemporary commentators is its failure to take up the tide of Gaelic cultural nationalism.
You will notice the knee-jerk association of Catholicism with Gaelic cultural nationalism in Collins' article, without any basis whatsoever, and its further demonisation by its association with dissident violence. The real problem with dissident violence is the universal adherence to the dogma of a united Ireland, a truly sinister kind of nationalism, of the Serbian variety of territorial aggrandisement.

The rise of cultural nationalism was the undoing of the Nationalist party, but those extolling its virtues should read further into its real character before exalting it too much. Perhaps, this is another example of the Irish penchant for doomed failures.

"The IRB, GAA etc were unfortunately overwhelmingly Catholic organisations" and so was the Nationalis party, because Protestants were largely not supporters of nationalism of any kind, not because they were excluded from these organisations. The Gaelic League was not "taken over by those who peddled a particular exclusive, Catholic Irishness" it was taken over by those in favour of the violent overthrow of British rule. Hyde's resignation from the League was because of the passing of a resolution adding to the League's objectives that of working to free Ireland from foreign rule. (You will remember that “peddled” an exclusive, Gaelic Irishness.)

To repeat, the independence achieved in 1922 was far greater than the Home Rule offered in 1914, and it took a violent war of independence to achieve it. That its ideals were not achieved is the fault of the generations that followed, including this one. It seems the Irish will blame anyone but themselves for their problems, including the dead.


The Gombeen Man said...

So what did the Rising achieve?

And when a minority of a minority (of the Irish Volunteers) and the ICA took the GPO, provoking a ham-fisted British over-reaction they were by no means part of some inexorable mass historical process - they were a small subjective element.

Sure, it take your point about the over-emphasis of the subjective element in the historical process (for instance, some believe that if Hitler had not been born there would have been no WW2 and not holocaust - plainly nonsense).

But a relatively small group of people carrying out a putsch - without a mandate, seeing themselves as a vanguard of the Irish people as the likes of the Provos did, and the RIRA do - seems to me a strange thing to celebrate.

Especially, as you point out yourself, there would have been partition and home rule/independence anyway. I still contend the Rising made the idea of an eventual united Ireland all the more remote.

Furthermore, even the plenipotentiaries signed the treaty, their fingers were figuratively crossed behind their backs. The aim of the political class swept into power in 1922 was always a united Ireland, yet it seems that you are opting out of this, while lauding the neo-Gaelicism of the cultural nationalists.

You contend in relation to Pearse (and I assume Dev) "a Gaelic-speaking, anti-materialist nation were his aims. The latter would have avoided the worst excesses of the past 10 years". Sadly, such a Statement could have been made by Dev himself, as the new Irish political ruling class saw modernity as an alien influence to be resisted (again, Tom Garvin's "Preventing The Future" goes into this in some depth).

You said "Because Protestants were largely not supporters of nationalism of any kind". I can mention Parnell, Emmett, Casement, Wolf Tone, Childers... I'm sure that were others.

Sure, the "excesses" of the past ten years would not have happened if we were living in Dev's Gaelic-speaking Paradise, but only because there would have been no inward investment in such a backwater.

Dakota said...

Emm so I was right you were addressing your post to me, not Mr Collins and not GM. No probs. EL, my own views on contrarian ideas are on the record here, so I think your snide remark is a little uncalled for.

"Apart from the outcome of "the Curragh Incident", this is what actually happened. Arguing that Britain could not impose unity, Walter Long's committee on the Irish Question recommended the creation of two parliaments - the result, the Government of Ireland Act. Partition was to be imposed rather than unity." Yes, I can't disagree with anything there.

"Is this not what you wrote; "Cronyism, corruption, clientelism and a State ruled from the vatican was all that came out of the blood sacrifice of 1916". Is this not the title of this thread; "The Easter Rising - the blood sacrifice that changed Irish politics forever"
NO, NO, NO, NO....again you are NOT taking the time to understand what I am saying. You are taking what I said out of CONTEXT. 1916 WAS a beginning, some say watershed, some would say, it was a break with the past...I contend that it had profound psychological implications for the Irish population, both protestant and catholic. AGAIN I repeat the build up to it was of equal importance. Again, I repeat, IN MY OPINION IT WAS A WASTE OF TIME. From your text you are implying that Cronyism etc had it's origns pre 1916? If so I agree with that. It was always rife on this Island. I will say again 1916 legitimised it! There was as many ideals flying around at the time as bullets, practicalities where ignored. What a great way to found a country.

"There is no basis for saying that the outcome would have been any different with the Nationalist party," How do you know? You say the Nationalist party had Catholic leanings, yeah, ironically so did the Free State Government.
FF had a dispropotionate number of builder buddies in the 1990s. Look where Ireland is now.
Who is right, who's wrong? You have your view I have mine.
But hold on, having said that, can you honestly tell me that the last 20 years in the ROI was not an unmitigated disaster, of gargantuan proportions? Even Matthew Elderfield said that the Irish Banking crisis was the worst in history.
Can you honestly tell me that cute hoorism, was not excentuated from the 1920s onwards? There was always an element of Gombeenism in Ireland, a fact which undermined successive nationalistic struggles, but come on, can you honestly say that it did not go stratospheric with the creation of FF in 1926? A FF party based on selective 1916 ideals? (In my opinion Pearse, Connolly and the rest of the signatories would be appalled) I ask again do you honestly think the Nationalist Party could have done any worse for Ireland in the last 95 years?

"To repeat, the independence achieved in 1922 was far greater than the Home Rule offered in 1914, and it took a violent war of independence to achieve it." Yes, and that's the problem, can it be justified that so many died needlessly? For what? What was on offer to the Free State Government? A war ravish land? Pain, suffering, misery, poverty, degredation, incompetence at the highest level, a violent rump opposition? Was that worth one life? Was the lost generation on flanders fields not enough....Was their memory not worth upholding? Why start a war on your own turf? Could it be that old Irish Chestnut?
"It seems the Irish will blame anyone but themselves for their problems, including the dead." Yes, can't disagree with that......

Anonymous said...

I'm sick of reading these articles of moral outrage by failed PDers like Collins. In the last few weeks we learn of even more atrocities committed by the British even after the second world war. 1 millions Kenyans placed in concentration camps (300,000 murdered as against 32 settlers killed by the Mau Mau) and people still hold the opinion that if the Irish continued to make nice speeches in parliament that the gracious brits would have granted them their every wish. I don't claim to hold up all the leaders of the rising as heros, but they struck at the heart of the worlds most evil empire and many lost their lives in the act. Hitler was right about one thing, that the big difference between the british empire and the others was that the brits mastered the art of public relations,so much so that even today many Irish people buy into this imperial propaganda.

The Gombeen Man said...

Empires are seldom other than "evil". The behaviour of Belgium in the Congo being one example. And let's not forget the conquistadores of Spain and Portugal - so who is the most evil is very debatable, and perhaps academic.

I'm not holding the British Empire up as some shining example (and it should be remembered that the Irish made up a large proportion of its apparatus, so were very much part of it).

I am, however, saying we should question our own orthodoxies - one of those being the Rising and the Establisment's veneration of it, that's all.

As an Irish person, I am more concerned, at this point, about people buying into the propaganda of our own Establishment.

anna said...

The gist of what certain people seem to say is :
Republican Violence is Ok and Good ( no matter if ordinary English die- and in Warrington, children OR many ordinary Catholics and protestants in NI- John Hume said the IRA killed more Catholics then the loyalists OR security forces.) Because the Brits were Always far More Evil.
So if people are sophisticated enough to realise that the famine , 1916 etc was a long time ago- well the brits were still up to monstrous atrocities in Kenya 50 yrs ago. I DON’T DISPUTE THIS.
I only know a little of this independence fight- one of the last gasps of an old empire. An empire like many that could commit atrocities as they were far form home- on people of a different race, therefore inferior. Surprisingly happened under the reign of Elizabeth-a decent woman.
However did all the truth come out at the time? Certainly the brutal behaviour by British forces during the Mau Mau rebellion never really went away- I am no historian but often, even without researching it, I picked up references to it in UK and Irish press. I think only a few years ago allegations were seeping into the UK press, of widespread rape by British army at the time.
NOW survivors ( who were monstrously treated) are asking Only for an apology. I hope they get it - and more, and that ALL the truth comes out. The Americans got up to monstrous things as recently as the 70’s in Vietnam, truth was suppressed, and eventually came out-it doesn’t quite make me feel America is an evil empire- only that nations that are very powerful can misuse their power.
HOWEVER I don’t want to minimise their suffering BUT I STILL do not see how the final atrocities s of a dying empire ( 50 yrs ago) can be somehow used to Excuse or somehow Balance the Indulgent and Blind attitude Irish people often have towards Irish republican violence and atrocities.
Did the IRA nobly blow up a few dozen English people in Birmingham in the 70’s to show solidarity for Kenya? Too bad about the Army canteen workers killed by IRA bombs in Guilford- its their own fault for being British. Like, all this Really helped the cause of Kenya,( 25 yrs before hand ) other British Former colonies, Northern Irish Catholics etc.
And It Really made me proud and happy , as a NI catholic, to come into work in Belfast in 1990- to hear a protestant colleague had her legs blown off. Another blow for Irish freedom I thought ( Most Definitely NOT).
Yet the attitude prevails : The Difference With Republican Violence IS We’re IRISH -the world love us and hates the Brits. So we Can get Away with it.
It’s A Different (!!) Kind of Violence . Its Noble and Good (!!) , Unlike Anything the Brits DID, and serves a Common Good……Uniting Ireland…a cause SO great and good it doesn’t matter HOW many ordinary people across the UK and Ireland die for it…not forgetting the 12 yr old Spanish boy and his Madrid teacher who died in Omagh ….Well I‘m sure the rest of Europe will be Sympathetic to our Great Cause.. As The Difference With Republican Violence Is We’re Irish.

anna said...

Violence has no place in Irish life.
AND it should not be quietly Condoned Because it is Republican Violence.
If my boyfriend went out killing all round him as he wanted to avenge the wrong s of the British empire and unite Ireland , ( and if he wrapped himself in the national flag of UK/ Poland/USA/ Colombia/ Kenya/ Virgin Isles etc while doing so ) he would ( rightly ) be locked up FOREVER In Dundrum mental hospital .
But pull on a balaclava, and wave a tricolour while you’re doing that - and You’re a Hero.
This shocking tendency to accept republican violence is something in the irish psyche which should be left to Wither and Die.
Here some examples;
*Sean Russell, Irish Nazi died on a German U - boat- ended up with a statue in Dublin- he’s a republican hero because Hitler was attacking Britain (!!!!- and bombing Dublin and Belfast as well....and many Irish in UK….)
* Sinn Fein politician Catriona Ruane was heavily involved in the Noble cause of helping 3 Belfast men imprisoned in Columbia. NO they weren’t helping or being trained by FARC guerrillas …yes they were republicans BUT they were Only bird watching. ( All I know of Columbia is , its a sad place of death and drugs, there are few good guys and I doubt if that includes FARC).
Well if they were south African/ American/ German/ English mercenaries, ooops I mean Bird Watchers, I doubt if Catriona would have been concerned. BUT they were Republican bird watchers from Belfast…so good guys who had been wrongly imprisoned of course…and needed to be freed ..to carry on with good works
* Not forgetting the mad dog of the middle east, Gaddafi. Well he must be alright- didn’t he train IRA men on Libyan soil and give them guns and ammo? To the extent that N Ireland MPs are now calling on Gaddafi to pay compensations to the victims of the troubles in NI?
NO Matter that he killed many thousand of his own fellow Libyans - well before Libya’s current crisis. And he has been described as ‘cruel and vainglorious’ Well, Any one who Supports violent Irish republicanism and is Against the brits Has to be a good guy, right? RIGHT?
* Another thing that sticks in my mind; During the Celtic tiger years, Africans who came to Ireland were shocked that those shouting the most racist abuse were Older people( after all its the young who are supposed to be yobbish) . Same older generation who emigrated to USA and were known for their racism to blacks.
* So can we really believe, given all the above that the Irish at heart were always a noble race who were tolerant and kind towards other nations, ESPECIALLY TOWARD OTHER DOWN TRODDEN NATIONS AND PEOPLES- totally unlike the vicious Brits of course?
Ireland need to develop a strong sense of Pride and nationhood- and one Big strand of that is Letting Toleration of ANY Republican violence wither and die forever.

Anonymous said...

All that the rising achieved was to end British state occupation and copper fasten occupation by the Vatican state. The result was a tsunami of child rape, slave labour, murder in unmarked graves, cover up and a completely corrupt political body. Next year the head of that state will be here again for a triumphalist insult to the very idea of Irish sovereignty.