Monday 5 December 2016

Casement helped the helpless, no matter what the cost to himself

Published 03/08/2016 | 02:30

Roger Casement
Roger Casement

Roger Casement died 100 years ago today, "so tear up your mourning and hang up your brightest colours in his honour" - George Bernard Shaw's advice on the passing of towering figures.

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Casement's name resonates not just because of his unusual journey from British Consul to 1916 revolutionary, but for his pioneering work as a humanitarian crusader. His impact stretches beyond these shores to the Congo (then the Congo Free State) and South America, where he campaigned on behalf of enslaved native peoples and gave a voice to those who had none.

This year of centenaries continues to offer us an opportunity to reflect on the lives and motivations of many whose actions helped to change the course of Irish history. Casement is a compelling figure among them: misguided and naïve in some eyes, idealistic and self-sacrificing in others. Of his courage, both moral and physical, there can be no doubt.

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