Monday 26 September 2016

Neo-Redmondite revisionism misses real impact of Rising

Published 21/03/2016 | 02:30

John Redmond, champion of Home Rule, circa 1910. Photo: Getty
John Redmond, champion of Home Rule, circa 1910. Photo: Getty

David Quinn in Comment, Irish Independent, March 18, states that the Easter Rising fails the "just war" criterion as well as a "just cause".

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I disagree with him on both points and would like to refer him to an article in The Sunday Times on March 13 by Dr Ronan Fanning, Professor Emeritus of Modern History at UCD.

Quinn states that we should have continued on down the road followed by Redmond.

"That governments seek to bend history is inevitable," according to Dr Fanning, and "what is politically imperative must never be confused with what is historically true."

Others, such as publicists, polemicists and even some historians, aim to amend, restate, replace or even recreate the past in a more satisfactory form.

In the case of the Easter Rising, the neo-Redmondite camp argues that the bloodshed of 1916 was redundant because Ireland's independence had effectively been guaranteed by the Home Rule Bill enacted in 1914.

This is a blatant example of counter-factual history, of what-iffery. The historical reality, however unpalatable to all us opposed to violence as a political instrument, is that there is not a shred of evidence that Lloyd George's Tory-dominated government would have offered more independence than Home Rule, if not constrained by the IRA's guerrilla war (War of Independence).

British parliamentary democracy failed Ireland's constitutional nationalists in 1886(First Home Rule Bill), 1893 (Second Home Rule Bill), and again in 1914. Julian Barnes's novel 'The Sense of an Ending' reminds us that history is more than "the lies of the victors ... it is also the self-delusions of the defeated". This is the vision of those who were defeated by the republican revolutionaries in the 1918 general election.

The "just war" theory states it must have a prospect of success. This is not to dispute that the Rising failed to meet the test. What conclusion does one come to over the guerrilla war of 1919-'21 or to the revolution period of 1916-'21 as a whole?

Most of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation were devout Catholics, but what drove them was the single-minded determination to launch a rebellion before the end of the first world war.

Some who want to recreate the past in a more satisfactory form are dissatisfied with the evolution of the independent Irish State during the past 100 years.

In 1966, Éamon de Valera, when asked about the significance of the Proclamation, said he understood it was about only one thing: breaking the British connection and establishing "the Irish Republic as a sovereign independent state".

Geraldine Groarke (nee Dillon)

Gortmore, Drumraney, Co Westmeath

Cosgrave should rest in peace

It was with deep disgust that I read about the recent shocking vandalism of a number of graves in Goldenbridge Cemetery, including that of WT Cosgrave.

It is the second time in the last few years that his grave has been desecrated in such a despicable fashion.

WT Cosgrave was born in James's Street in 1880, just over a mile away from where he now rests in Inchicore.

He was 'out' in 1916 and fought in the South Dublin Union where his stepbrother Frank Burke was shot dead near him.

He went on to lead the Free State government and guided the nascent Irish State safely through many early perils. His enormous contribution to the foundation of our country has long been overshadowed by more colourful characters such as De Valera and Collins.

In this period of Easter Week, when we honour the memories of the men and women of 1916, I call upon the Glasnevin Trust, Dublin City Council and the Government to install a permanent 24/7 security presence at Goldenbridge Cemetery to prevent such an appalling act of disrespect to a national hero from happening again in the future.

Imagine the uproar if the graves of Dev or Collins were subjected to similar treatment.

No more than WT Cosgrave did 'his bit' for his country one hundred years ago, the least we can offer him is a chance to rest in peace.

To his son Liam, our apologies.

Henry Cruise

Priory Lodge, Celbridge, Co Kildare

Hostage-taking empty nesters

Due to a lack of foresight on my part, I allowed two of my adult children to leave home a few years ago.

My third, and last, is now making noises about fleeing the nest.

Should I hold her hostage against the day when the nest robbers arrive to downsize me?

Tom Farrell

Swords, Co Dublin

We put house on FG/FF coalition

So, we have Fine Gael offering Independents and smaller parties a five-year deal. Soon we'll have Fianna Fáil offering Independents and smaller parties a five-year deal.

Neither will give us a stable government.

The majority of those who voted on February 26 nominated a government of Fine Gael agus Fianna Fáil.

If we bought a house on February 26, we would have a 21-day cooling-off period.

If the same rules applied we should now demand our vote back.

So, give us what we voted for or we go for a new house.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

Media cheerleading Fianna Fáil

The last sentence in your editorial of March 18, which says that FF politicians were "growing up a bit and realising responsibility comes with power", could not be further from the truth.

They were in pretty well unchallenged power for more than a decade during the Celtic Tiger period and ended up bankrupting the country.

They, together with most of the media that cheer-led the boom-time decisions that bankrupt the country, now have the gall to lecture us about dealing with the calamitous consequences of their recklessness over a long period.

Neither FF nor the Irish media, which is still cheerleading for them, have any credibility in this recently bankrupt, over-borrowed, but hopefully recovering country.

A Leavy

Shielmartin Drive, Sutton, Dublin 13

Irish Independent

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