Sunday 23 October 2016

From struggle to peace: remembering the Rising

Published 02/01/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD
Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD

Modern Ireland may have sprung from the ashes of 1916, but even at a remove of 100 years, the lens through which it may be viewed can still be clouded. One wonders how much amusement the protagonists of Easter Week would have got from watching historians and commentators chase each other up and down the paths of our storied past.

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Inane discussions as to whether it was necessary or not can still spontaneously combust.

Partisanship and distrust have driven the debate into cul de sacs or ghettoes, producing only more division.

We should hardly be surprised. The independence and freedom we enjoy today came out of struggle.

But we should also be hugely grateful, for today we finally have the immense privilege of reviewing the rebellion on an island that is peaceful.

That is something to celebrate and be immensely proud of. It is also something that must not be taken for granted.

Nationalism and unionism are recognised as legitimate, and the principles of consent and political progress solely by peaceful means have been established.

But trying to follow every turn and affix a motivation to every thought and twist along the torturous road that culminated in 1916 would be futile.

It is equally vacuous to attempt to filter the dreams of the protagonists through modern perspectives.

What we can build on today is the relationship between Britain and Ireland, which has evolved from enmity to close friendship. This rebalancing is an achievement that is also worthy of celebration, given so much of the water that has flowed under the bridge is crimson.

Our two islands share a history, but it has not always been an equal one. For centuries it was that of the conquerer and the conquered. Fomenting revolution at the heart of the world's greatest empire was a bold, and many would say foolhardy, act.

Yet its reverberations reshaped our political geography, and should be remembered with dignity and respect.

We have moved on, and the gunman has no place in modern Irish life. After 1916, we had a War of Independence, a Civil War and then came the 'Troubles'.

We have at last come to a place where those of all political creeds can focus on living for, instead of dying for, Ireland.

The alchemy that led us from the crucible of rebellion in 1916, to a spirit of peace and reconciliation is surely something to be saluted.

Kenny's inaction could prove costly in the polls

There is a Yiddish proverb that has it that if a man is destined to drown, he will do so even in a spoonful of water. The same might be said of governments.

With much of the country water-logged, there is growing impatience and anger at the failure to act to alleviate the flooding. The issue is now likely to have a bearing on the election.

Mr Kenny was under fire for his tardiness in appearing to show solidarity with victims whose homes, farms or businesses had been inundated. When he did show up to give a briefing, he did himself no favours by suggesting it may be necessary for people, ultimately, to move to higher ground. After attending a meeting with the Taoiseach and the National Emergency Coordination Group, OPW Minister Simon Harris said flooding would be the first item on the agenda at the Cabinet meeting. One suspects it might also be a hot topic as politicians paddle door to door in pursuit of votes.

Irish Independent

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