Tuesday 25 October 2016

We appear to be as oppressed now as we were 100 years ago

Published 22/01/2016 | 02:30

The Irish tricolour will be flying. Photo: Collins
The Irish tricolour will be flying. Photo: Collins

As the great and the good of our country arise from their slumber and will no doubt try to express on our behalf what it really means to be Irish in 2016, how will I - an ordinary Irish citizen - mark the occasion?

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I intend to fly the tricolour outside my home, where I will remember the men and women who did give their lives for our freedom.

When you think about the honesty, bravery and selflessness that the men and women who died for Irish freedom in 1916 possessed, you realise they are traits which are sadly lacking in public life at this time.

Without a doubt, in many walks of life there are ordinary people doing extraordinary jobs which help to keep this country of ours great.

So yes, there are still heroes to be found in Ireland, it's just a shame that none of them hold political influence.

I do believe there are a lot of ordinary Irish people out there who would think that, as well as commemorating a rebellion, we should be starting a new one. But somehow, in some ways, Irish people appear to be as oppressed now as they were 100 years ago.

At a time when we will no doubt be bombarded with politicians clambering for the best vantage point to air their views on behalf of the Irish people, I can say as an ordinary Irish citizen there is not one of them that I will be able to identify with during these commemorations.

So, where do we go from here? Perhaps in 2016 we might remember the first line of the Proclamation, and whose name it was in, that the people of Ireland were called to fight for their freedom 100 years ago. It would be a start.

Pat Costello


Could we have been a 'buffer'?

The imminent 100th anniversary commemoration of the 1916 Rising brings to my mind the events of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966.

I was then a corporal in the FCA and took part in the military parade on Easter Sunday.

We were given comprehensive briefings on 1916. Also, throughout that period on radio, television and the newspapers, we were treated to a wealth of information on the Rising, the events and participants.

In every case, the seven signatories of the Proclamation were presented to us as deities and the Proclamation text as holy writ. Our duty was not to analyse or evaluate - but to believe.

To do otherwise was considered to be a form of national apostasy.

Given that interval of 50 years, and all that has occurred on our island since, I wonder now why greater consideration was not then given to a significant reference in the Proclamation, that of the 'gallant allies in Europe' - that is, the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

These empires were not known for their delicacy of treatment of the ethnic and religious minorities within their sway.

They were aggressively expansionist entities and sought to bring most of Europe within their domain. If Germany had won WWI (which was still very much a possibility in 1916) what then would have been the fate of an independent Ireland?

Would we have become a Germanic 'buffer state' between Britain and America?

It is possible that the Proclamation reference to 'gallant allies' was intended to be merely pragmatic and not to be taken as any form of binding commitment.

But there was no guarantee that a victorious German Empire would have taken it that way.

And it does raise an important question. Were the solidly republican sentiments of the Proclamation compatible with even a notional alliance with such entities as the Germanic empires?

Certainly, if the German Empire had won the war, and Ireland was brought within its domain, I believe that our last state would have been worse than our first.

Tom Brace

Parkgate Street, Dublin 8

The threat of 'Big Maggie'

Am I the only one in the country who winces as 'Big Maggie' proclaims on the radio airwaves that she will break a brush across someone's back because of a bit of cheek? Wow... I can almost feel the pain!

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Educate kids on alcohol

I refer to my letter last week ('Boost spending on education', January 14) regarding the importance of spending on education while our children are, yes, still children.

The Department of Education has now advised all schools not to participate in the upcoming promotion by Drinkaware in our schools.

I fully agree that a promotion on drink awareness which is sponsored by the drinks industry doesn't make any sense.

My question is very simple. Why doesn't the Department of Education set up its own 'drink aware' website? Is the department serious about educating our children of the ill effects of alcohol abuse?

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

Bulmer Hobson: forgotten hero

I would like to see you publish this information regarding Bulmer Hobson in your writings about the Easter Rising, 1916.

So far, all that I have read about the Rising leaves out a mention of Bulmer Hobson. Will he be adequately remembered?

He - like Roger Casement, his great friend from Co Antrim - should be recognised in the Easter Rising 1916 commemorations.

He did not agree with Padraig Pearse and those who thought they were ready to take on the British gunboats, based in the Liffey, and so they put him in jail to keep him quiet.

We know the results - and the slaughter of those innocent men who thought they could win against such odds.

I grew up beside the retirement home of Bulmer Hobson - a friendly, intelligent man.

I stood at his grave in a Catholic churchyard, (he was, in fact, a Quaker) but we loved to have him beside us, where religion wasn't an issue.

He will not be forgotten in Roundstone.

May he rest in peace.

Mary Munro

Connemara, Co Galway

Polls apart on results

Caitríona McClean makes a good point about the unreliability of depending completely on opinion polls (Letters, January 21).

Though if I were a Fianna Fáil supporter, I think I might be hoping that some polls were wrong as well.

Killian Foley-Walsh,

Kilkenny city

Irish Independent

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