Thursday 29 September 2016

And they're off! The struggle for heart and soul of 2016 starts here

Eilis O'Hanlon

Published 02/08/2015 | 02:30

Mary Lou McDonald TD, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams who were at the Reenactment of the O'Donovan Rossa funeral at Dublin Castle.
Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Lou McDonald TD, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Fein Leader Gerry Adams who were at the Reenactment of the O'Donovan Rossa funeral at Dublin Castle. Photo: Tony Gavin

Sinn Fein isn't content to just commemorate 1916. It appears to want to rerun it as well.

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The battle started this weekend with a ceremony at Glasnevin to mark the 100th anniversary of the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.

That was attended by President Higgins and the Taoiseach, though Sinn Fein decided the official event wasn't good enough and so organised one of its own a few hours later.

Well, they do say the first item on the agenda at any Irish political meeting is always the split. This could herald the outbreak of a swarm of different splinter groups determined to mark the Rising in their own special way. Continuity 1916, anyone?

Of course Rossa should be remembered. The Fenian's execution at the hands of the Brits was the spark which lit the flame of Irish freedom - at least if you listen to SF. They actually sent out invitations last week saying just that, conveniently overlooking the fact that Rossa died in his bed. In America. At the age of 83.

Then again, why let the facts get in the way of a good party? Rossa's body was actually brought home in 1915 so that his funeral could be a propaganda coup for the Fenians. Little could they have known it would still be serving the same purpose 100 years later.

It's rather alarming that the education system could soon be in the hands of people who wouldn't pass Junior Cert History, but we'd better get used to it. There'll be an avalanche of this nonsense over the coming months, as the full programme of events to mark the Easter Rising gets under way.

You have to hand it to SF. Most public representatives are content to take a back seat to the centenary, recognising that the commemorations transcend party politics. Only SF seems to want to take ownership of the entire calendar.

They'll probably start coming into the Dail in full fancy dress. Mary Lou McDonald in her best Countess Markievicz epaulettes. Aengus O Snodaigh in a broad black brimmer.

Though none of them would bother dressing up as any of the many civilians who died in the Rising, because Shinners prefer to forget the inconvenient bits of history.

The only exception would be Gerry Adams, who'd stay in his civvies to prove once again that he was never in the IRA.

And if you believe that...

To be fair, you can't blame them for getting excited. Rossa organised the first ever bombing campaign of mainland Britain, a tactic which was copied by the Provos some decades later, in the manner of a tribute band doing dodgy cover versions of their musical inspiration's biggest hits.

They'll probably also follow in his footsteps by dying in their beds at a ripe old age. It's always someone else who pays the price for fanatics' dreams.

Sunday Independent

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