Sunday 23 October 2016

State remembers the Somme but neglects the heritage of 1916

Published 02/07/2016 | 02:30

The Rising: catalyst that built a nation
The Rising: catalyst that built a nation

July 1 marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Battle of the Somme and, as a matter of diplomatic and commemorative progress, members of the Irish Government can be found this week at the Somme representing the Irish State on the sacred battlefields of the Great War.

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Meanwhile, members of the same Government are standing idly by as the listed buildings on the Irish nation's sacred battlefield of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin's Moore Street fall into wrack and ruin due to water damage and other structural faults. One of their number, Arts and the Gaeltacht Minister Heather Humphreys is set to appeal an Irish High Court ruling to preserve one of the Irish nation's most sacred battlefields.

Surely this a disgrace and a shambolic way to treat those Irish people, many of them relatives and descendants of the brave men and women of the 1916 Rising, who want this area restored, preserved as a historical legacy for our future generations. Our Government cannot have it both ways - the Somme battlefield is as sacred to the history of Europe and island of Ireland as Moore Street is to the Irish Republic.

The Somme was an imperialistic and militaristic catastrophe - 20,000 killed on day one, with one million killed, maimed, missing or wounded on all sides in five months. The number of men from Ireland killed there has never really been properly accounted for. What happened at the Somme destroyed peoples, generations, nations, empires and a continent and ended the other European political fiasco of imperialism. What happened in Moore Street, the GPO, Sackville Street and Dublin at Easter 1916 was the catalyst that built a nation. The stupidity or ignorance of successive Irish governments is that they have randomly commemorated things which they don't fully appreciate in a politically expedient way without a properly fully understanding of what it is they are commemorating.

The battlefields and places that sprung forth the Irish Republic and nation state are equally as sacred as the Somme battlefields of the Great War, where so many Irish men died fighting for the other failed European political experiment of our history - imperialism. With all the 1916/2016 commemorative activities, many of the battlefield sites of the 1916 Rising still are void of proper commemorative plaques or visible signposts of recognition. This Government - a new type of coalition in our fledgling State - could carry out some very momentous acts of commemorative remembrance in this significant anniversary year by beginning a proper process to mark and signpost all the sacred sites of 1916 and the War of Independence with the same commemorative respect as is afforded to the fallen of the Great War across Europe .

Paul Horan (asst professor)

Trinity College Dublin


World keeps turning post-Brexit

What is it about 'liberal' commentators who rightly champion and insist on - among other things - freedom of speech and universal suffrage: that is, until there is a change in society which challenges, no matter how minute their way of thinking or their way of life?

Since the Brexit outcome, commentators have contested the age of the voters and the social background of the voters.

Throughout the Brexit campaign, all the main political parties in the United Kingdom - from the Conservatives to Sinn Féin - recommended a Remain vote, as did most of the UK business community and the trade unions. In addition, the UK electorate was urged by the Commonwealth countries and a host of foreign leaders from Barack Obama to Enda Kenny to remain in the European Union. Regardless of all this 'sound advice', UK citizens used their democratic right and voted to leave the EU.

More than 33 million people (72pc of the electorate) voted. Of these, I suspect millions over the age of 50 voted to Remain, as did millions of people under the age 50 vote to Leave. The same would apply to working-class and middle-class voters, people with white skin and dark skin, and even the aristocracy. Also, I suspect there was a mix of reasons as to why people voted the way they did, irrespective of their age, class or ethnic background. What a great display of democracy in action.

Instead of looking for reasons or ways to re-run the ballot - and in the process, undermine democracy - we should admire British democracy regardless of the outcome.

And by the way, Britain will survive, Ireland will survive and the Earth will continue to orbit the sun.

Des Hughes,

Donaghmede, Dublin 13


Don't rain on our parade

I woke up yesterday, July 1, wondering what country I was in a few weeks ago. Summer?

Brian Mc Devitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal.


UK always had a foot outside EU

The many commentators who ascribe the outcome of the UK referendum to various forms of disaffection are missing the point. Both sides of the Brexit debate in Britain were resolutely opposed to the idea of European integration.

Whatever about regions like Scotland and Northern Ireland, the position of the UK as a state has been hostile to the primary objectives of the EU since the Thatcher era, and British interventions in the EU since then have frequently been disruptive.

Following Jacque Delors' presidency of the European Commission in the 1980s, the UK pressed successfully for a weakening of the Commission, the supra-national institution at the heart of the EU.

In the 1990s, UK governments championed enlargement because they placed a brake on EU 'deepening', or closer integration. The UK's decision not to join the eurozone, once considered as temporary, has long been accepted as permanent, and there are clearly conflicting interests between sterling, a major currency, and the single European currency. In response to the 2008 crisis, an unbridgeable gulf opened up between London and Brussels regarding banking regulation.

In short, the differences between the EU and the UK cannot be fixed by the exercise of good will; they are irreconcilable. For that reason, the separation of the UK from the European Union is in the interests of both.

Brexit will not guarantee that the EU moves back from its attachment to free-market ideology, but it does open up the possibility of a more united Union and a return to the Christian democratic ideal of 'social Europe'.

Ireland's national interest now clearly requires a consolidation of the euro currency through further political integration of the eurozone, pursued as a matter of urgency. Other priorities must be: preventing the British eurosceptics from using their victory to destabilise the EU; and avoiding any moves that would prolong the mood of dislocation and uncertainty.

Dave Alvey

Irish Political Review Group, Lower Dargle Road, Bray, Co Wicklow

Irish Independent

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