'We live in a new era of violence' - archbishop
The country's most senior Catholic bishop has warned of "a new era of violence in Ireland", where "ruthless" criminals are "flooding the place with drugs" and are willing to kill without conscience to get what they want.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin made his comments at a public interview at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin yesterday evening in which he discussed the relevance of the 1916 Proclamation.
He said that this new generation of violent criminals were teetotal.
"They are not drug addicts, they don't drink. They are quite puritanical, but they are willing to kill to get what they want," he stressed.
He was responding to questions from the public over the purported blood lust of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.
Admitting that he was "not a pacifist", the archbishop said he believed violence was always a failure but he added that questions had to be considered as to how one could hold back an aggressor.
Elsewhere in his discussion with the veteran broadcaster and historian, Dr John Bowman, which was the first in a series of high-profile public discussions at the National Library on 1916, the Catholic archbishop said one of the dominant themes of the Proclamation was equality and an emphasis on cherishing all the children of the nation equally.
However, he said Ireland today was still an unequal society where housing, homelessness, and the Travellers were concerned and in this regard the vision of the 1916 Proclamation had not been fulfilled.
Calling for a new sense of "national purpose and national idealism", he said the political splintering and fragmentation prevalent today was not the direction we should be moving in.
In his discussion of the church's role in the Rising, Dr Martin highlighted that some of the most important first-hand testimonies of the events of Easter Week 1916 and the executions of the leaders of the Rising that followed where obtained from priests who had ministered at the coalface at the time.
These will feature in an exhibition at St Kevin's Oratory in the Pro Cathedral in Dublin, which will be opened on Friday by the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs and arts, Heather Humphreys.
'Ministry Advocacy and Compassion' will display for the first time a number of historical documents and unseen testimonies on the church's role in 1916.