Wednesday 14 November 2018

People look at 1916 and see their own reflection

Paul Bew

THE commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising is turning into a subjective gabfest. Everyone today looking back at the Easter Rising sees themselves in the glass. The phenomenon is known as mirror-imaging. President McAleese, an upwardly mobile Northerner of the Civil Rights era, sees Catholics smashing through the glass ceiling. Fianna Fail, for a long time n

THE commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising is turning into a subjective gabfest. Everyone today looking back at the Easter Rising sees themselves in the glass. The phenomenon is known as mirror-imaging. President McAleese, an upwardly mobile Northerner of the Civil Rights era, sees Catholics smashing through the glass ceiling. Fianna Fail, for a long time now Ireland's political establishment, has a more buttoned-down approach; a military parade with the meanings controlled and all dangerous rhetoric kept firmly in the past. Sinn Fein wants something more inclusive - code for a festival of victimhood still considered to have current relevance.

The Labour Party, naturally enough, wants more talk about James Connolly and secular progressive themes of the Rising. What unites all these approaches is a common lack of concern with the men of 1916 and their world view. The language of the revolutionaries was extreme because it had to be. Nineteen sixteen was about the vindication of the Dublin revolutionary tradition which had produced fiascos in 1803, 1848 and 1867 and was living in the last-chance saloon. James Connolly's supposedly secular worker's republic denounces Britain as the butcher of Irish priests on the eve of the Rising.

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