Monday 27 February 2017

Roger Casement: will a compelling figure of the Rising be adequately remembered?

Martina Devlin

Martina Devlin

Roger Casement. Photo: Getty
Roger Casement. Photo: Getty

Many fascinating figures are associated with 1916, but the one I find most compelling is Roger Casement, because of his complexity. A conscientious servant of the empire, he was among the first Europeans to question colonialism, and was knighted for his reports on human rights abuses in the Congo and the Amazon.

Instead of resting on his laurels, he became a political activist in the nationalist cause after reconnecting with his Irish identity. Of such contradictions is our history forged.

His campaign to persuade prisoners-of-war in Germany to form an Irish Brigade and fight for freedom at home failed, as did an attempt to land arms in Kerry shortly before the Easter Rising.

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