News Letters

Sunday 21 September 2014

Letters: Rising not just to blame for damage to Irish psyche

Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30

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Former Taoiseach John Bruton

* John Bruton states that "damage has been done to the Irish psyche" by the violence of the 1916 Rising. That may be true but some points should be made to place it in context.

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Firstly, much more damage had been done to the psyche of the Irish people by being colonised, subjugated and denied freedom for centuries, by a quarter of the population disappearing in the space of five years during the Famine of the 1840s, and by English becoming the main language in Ireland.

All of these traumatic events caused much more damage than a week of violence in Dublin.

Secondly, the 1916 Rising took place when mainland Europe was tearing itself apart during a four-year war. Ireland was, aside from the Rising, in the main, peaceful during the same period. The psychological damage done to other nations was much more.

The Ottoman Empire suffered more than five million deaths during the four-year period. France's manpower losses were enormous; in proportion to population and to the number of men under arms, they exceeded those of any other warring nation. The dead totalled 1,357,800 and the wounded 4,266,000.

There probably would have been less political violence a century ago in Ireland had the British government resisted the threat of violence from the Ulster unionists. Once unionists had shown that the threat of violence was effective in changing political matters, nationalists did not hesitate to use the same methods for their own cause.

Two of the key factors that lead to the Easter Rising were the proof of using violence coupled with a war that meant Britain was distracted elsewhere with less military capability to deal with matters in Ireland. The effect of violence was not lost on the minds of the Irish men and women who went out to fight in Dublin.

Lastly, it should be pointed out that many people did not support the rebels in 1916. Sympathies soon changed, however, when the British army executed the leaders of the rebellion. Very quickly, Irish people began to side with the republicans.

Again, World War I cannot be ignored to understand why events happened the way they did. The British military responded in the same way as they did on mainland Europe. It was standard procedure to execute enemy officers.

It would, I believe, be more accurate to say that the Irish people had suffered huge trauma over the centuries due to being ruled by Britain. This national trauma allowed men to countenance using violence to achieve freedom. This was spurred on by the resistance to home rule and the deaths and violence of World War I.

SEANAN O COISTIN

BONNEVOIE, LUXEMBOURG

WORLD WAR CONFUSION

* A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A newly reported UK social survey on the Great War found that one in five Britons thought they were fighting Hitler's Nazi Germany during World War I.

Respondents, however, knew more about the 1914 Christmas truce; 85pc were aware that British and German troops played football together during the truce. However, 8pc believed they got together for a screening of 'The Great Escape'.

You could not make it up.

TONY BARNWELL

DUBLIN 9

GOD HELP US

* May God help us. They didn't want oil or gas supplied, now they don't want electricity powerlines either, whether they go under or overground.

It is a good job Fr Horan built his airport so the youth of the country could emigrate.

He knew his people well.

WILLIAM COYLE

INVER, CO DONEGAL

COURTESY FOR ATHEISTS

* I recently read an article about a solicitor who stole €2.8m from clients and in mitigation the court was told that he was a "devout Christian" with numerous good deeds to his name. Any chance the same courtesy will be given to the practicing atheists?

K NOLAN

CARRICK-ON-SHANNON, CO LEITRIM

WALK A MILE IN DOCTOR'S SHOES

* I write in response to your editorial (July 1) and the letter from Jim Cosgrave (July 2), from which we glean a picture of many ungrateful Irish doctors departing our shores with their ill-gotten degrees in search of foreign riches.

To suggest that "the majority" of Irish medics have a "filthy lucre motivation" is baseless, insulting and unsubstantiated.

Since when did the virtues of hard work, intelligence and dedication to your goal become synonymous with money grubbing?

Mr Cosgrave makes broad brushstroke judgments on the nation's doctors whose reward for their Leaving Cert endeavours is a further 10 to 20 years of working excessively long hours in a dysfunctional system with little or no training, massive personal responsibility and more often than not a chaotic personal life.

I invite Mr Cosgrave to walk a mile of hospital corridors and stairs in the shoes of a non-consultant hospital doctor. His bleep incessantly bleeping, being pulled between sick patients on the wards and emergency department at 4am, having started the shift 16 hours previously and no prospect of sleep or rest for another 16 hours or more.

Then to repeat this process several times a month on top of one of the most demanding day jobs in the country for the next 10 to 20 years. Does this sound like a good way to get your hands on some easy "moolah"?

If these young doctors are as lacking in caring as Mr Cosgrave suggests, then why are they being headhunted the world over?

DR DAVID O'CONNOR

FOYNES, CO WEXFORD

QUINN HAS DONE STATE SERVICE

* Many of us will have come across bright young people with hopes and aspirations toward higher-level education. A significant number of them never made it, simply because their parents (in the PAYE sector mostly and with fairly modest incomes) were deemed to be earning too much for grant assistance. At the same time, classmates from well-off families received the grants.

Ruairi Quinn was the first minister with the courage to tackle this issue.

Good luck to you, sir, in your retirement – you have given significant service to the young people of this country.

HARRY MULHERN

MILLBROOK ROAD, DUBLIN

ON-THE-TAKE GOALKEEPER

* Recent match-fixing rumours reminded me of the goalkeeper 'on the take'. The less he saved, the more interest he earned.

TOM GILSENAN

BEAUMONT, D9

TIME TO BOW OUT GRACEFULLY

* Democracy does still matter in Ireland in spite of its imperfections and the serious damage done to Irish people by recent cohorts of Irish politicians. In our most recent democratic election, the people clearly rejected Labour Party policies, leading to the resignation of party leader Eamon Gilmore.

Over the past half century I have voted for Labour more often than not, and may do so again, given the dearth of better alternatives. However, I am deeply concerned at the arrogance of Mr Gilmore and other senior Labour politicians in seeking to have Mr Gilmore nominated as Ireland's EU commissioner.

Ruairi Quinn had the common sense to bow out gracefully. Mr Gilmore should do likewise rather than claim "entitlement" to such an important position as EU commissioner. Public service is a privilege, not an entitlement.

EDWARD HORGAN

NEWTOWN, CASTLETROY, LIMERICK

Irish Independent

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