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How could anyone refer to an event that took some 600 lives as 'the cause of peace'?

No doubt the paradox was lost on many: while the mortal remains of the gallant Garda Robert McCallion, fatally injured in the line of duty, were being laid to rest in Mayo, outside Liberty Hall in Dublin they were celebrating the events in which two other police officers were murdered. Yes, murdered. There is no other way to describe the killing of unarmed officers about their daily business in Dublin on April 24, 1916. Nor is there any other word to describe that noontide wave of killings around the city of civilians who resisted, or didn't promptly obey, the orders of insurgents. The victims included Thomas Playfair, aged 14, the son of the warden of the magazine in the Phoenix Park, who ran away when gunmen came to raid the arsenal. Volunteer Holohan chased him on a bike, and shot the boy dead as he sought sanctuary at a house nearby.

Monday's Liberty Hall rally heard a demand for a memorial to remember the women of the Rising. Well, there is already one: to Constance Markievicz, in St Stephen's Green, not far from where she murdered the unarmed Constable Lahiffe. There is of course no memorial to him, or young Playfair, or any of the other victims of the insurgents that bloody noontide.

Who gave these people the right to kill? Where in the scriptures does it say that if you are Irish and unhappy with your lot, you may kill unarmed police officers and children, who have neither offended you nor are responsible for the political dispensation of which you disapprove?

We had some fatuous maunderings by Dr Smith, the Bishop of Meath, on this subject three years ago. I don't know whether Army Chaplain Monsigner Eoin Thynne belongs to the same theological school, or whether he was being impenetrably subtle when he declared at the official commemoration on Sunday: "We recall with affection all those who gave their lives in the cause of peace during the struggle for independence". (my italics)

The cause of peace? What kind of casuistry could enable anyone to refer to an event which took some 600 lives as "the cause of peace"? And just why are the Princes of the Church still co-celebrating an orgy of murderous violence with the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Redeemer of Mankind?

But in the frenzy of cognitive dissonance that surrounds the 1916 Rising, almost any counter-factual nonsense is possible.

So naturally, James Connolly was commemorated at Liberty Hall on Monday -- whereas in fact, he had been banned from the original Liberty Hall by his own trade union a week before the rising because of his paramilitary activities. No, you probably won't read this in most biographies of James Connolly, or in any history of the union, because it's a mutually inconvenient truth.

But what do I know of the inconvenience of truths? For by any usual standards, it should be an inconvenient -- and therefore concealed -- truth that Connolly made his 14-year-old son an officer in the Irish Citizens' Army, armed him, and sent him out to shoot his fellow Irishmen, whereas Connolly's many admirers actually rejoice in this. And Monday's affair at Liberty Hall revealed -- and celebrated -- the role of the 14-year-old girl Molly O'Reilly, whom Connolly used as a courier to and from the GPO, under fire. This is not the "cause of peace". It is child abuse.

The a-factual, post-Provisionalist surrealism with which the 1916 Rising is once again being annually commemorated by the State was emphasised by the prominent role of the American Denise Casement. She is unlikely to have been a descendent of the rampantly homosexual Roger Casement.

So what is the close kinship which brought her such media prominence? Well, her grandfather was, wait for it, no less than Roger Casement's SECOND COUSIN! Which means that Roger Casement was actually her great, great grand . . . oh, forget it. Either way, Mr Wong of your local takeaway probably shares as much consanguinity with Casement as does she.

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But why is any sort of Casement a centrepiece of our modern commemorations? Roger Casement tried to stop the Rising. So too did Eoin MacNeill, the Volunteers' Chief of Staff, once he had discovered that the document being used to justify it -- a Dublin Castle proposal to forcibly disarm the Volunteers -- was in fact a forgery concocted by Joseph Mary Plunkett.

In other words, the basis for the insurrection, which caused hundreds of deaths, was a carefully confected lie. What, pray, is the Catholic Church's attitude to this falsehood being used to such dreadful purpose? I won't hold my breath waiting for an answer.

I've been asking such inconvenient questions for many, many years, and the only response I ever get is either a studious silence, or ad hominem abuse, some silly nit-picking, or a snivelling: "What about Bowen-Colthurst's murder of Sheehy Skeffington?" I agree. Bowen-Colthurst was a murderer and should have been shot. Now, as for the other killings, long before that of Sheehy-Skeffington: justify them, Bishop Smith, one by one: justify them, Monsignor Thynne, one by one. Go on. JUSTIFY THEM.

kmyers@independent.ie


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