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Kevin Myers: I don't believe you can separate the stupefying reverence for 1916 from the mess we're in now

There are many things that truly nauseate me about the celebrations for the Easter Rising

FIANNA Fail was quite right to celebrate the 1916 Rising with their usual enthusiasm. The insurgents created a wasteland in the centre of Dublin and destroyed hundreds of lives for no good reason, and the Government has done much the same today. Alas, this year there was no bishop at the GPO to contemplate with tearful pride the deaths of the 30 of so children who were killed in the Rising. And what japes to follow!

Myth is myth. One can do nothing about the power of the myth of 1916 to those who subscribe to it. In my own modest way, I too have a mythic existence in many people's deluded minds, as a supporter of the British Raj in Ireland.

No one can adduce any evidence for this myth, because there is none: the following will not diminish this deranged belief. For I believe that the evils of Easter 1916 were borne ashore with the UVF German Mausers in Larne, two years to the very day before the Rising. Uncountable woes resulted from that treasonable and Tory-backed deed: so much so, indeed, that not even the most delinquent loyalist celebrates it today. It is left to nationalists to recite the dreary incantations of necrophilia that have contaminated the waters of the Irish separatism since 1916.

Now, I profoundly believe that the English are wholly unsuited to govern Ireland. I was recently reading 'Neville Chamberlain, Appeasement and the British Road to War' by a Frank McDonough of Liverpool University. This is an academic work, published by Manchester University Press, part of a series supervised by Mark Greengrass of Sheffield University and John Stevenson of Worcester College, Oxford. The only reference to Ireland mentions Chamberlain's Irish policy: "In May 1938, the British accepted the creation of the Republic of Ireland."

When such astounding ignorance is so confidently propounded in a serious academic tome, what better can one expect from politicians and civil servants? Ireland is a mystery to England, even to its FX McDonoughs, of clearly Hibernian ancestry. That being so, the most obvious lesson must be for the legal separation of one island from the other. But this does not mean that one may violate the most important of the Lord's Commandments at the very time when the Christian world rejoices at His Resurrection from the dead.

There are many things that truly nauseate me about the celebrations for the Easter Rising. The most central is the misrepresentation of facts, as if the Rising was a civil-rights poetry-reading that was cruelly interrupted by British guns. The Proclamation was a late adornment to the Rising, not its inspiration, and the "volunteers" knew nothing about it.

Indeed, most of them had been unaware that this was actually a genuine insurrection, in which real people would be really killed. So here we have Pearse, the schoolmaster with his teenage pupils, suddenly all decked out for war, and here James Connolly, with the 14-year-old-son he had just "commissioned" -- God help us -- into the Irish Citizen Army, all embarking on a killing spree, which started soon after Pearse's largely unheard words. Thomas Playfair, aged 14, was hunted down and shot dead by Volunteer Holohan at the Phoenix Park. Constable O'Brien, unarmed, murdered in cold blood at Dublin Castle. Constable Lahiffe, unarmed, murdered in cold blood in St Stephen's Green. The arming and deployment of underage boys, the murder of unarmed civilians: these are violations of all the laws of war.

Moreover, I don't believe you can separate the stupefying reverence for 1916 from the catastrophic mess we're in today. If our political class can so blind itself to the realities of the Rising and its awful consequences, is it surprising that it can spout mumbo-jumbo about so much else? For if Fianna Fail can pretend that something good and decent and honourable resulted from the catastrophe of 1916-23, then what other falsehoods and contradictions can it imbibe as irrefutable truths?

WAS it this inherent ability to accept two inherently incompatible ideas which enabled elements of Fianna Fail while in government to found the Provisional IRA? This made it surely the only political party in European history which, while actually in power, formed an anti-government terrorist militia. And, in due course, another Fianna Fail government gave a state funeral to the very man who had helped fund and found that anti-Fianna Fail militia.

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It's not surprising that this deranged cabal of voodoo-worshipping thieves once again has proved incapable of running a modern state. If Fianna Fail has an imperfect understanding of the meaning of "Thou Shalt Not Kill", no wonder the party also has trouble grasping the slightly less fundamental concept of "Thou Shalt Not Steal".

No wonder Easter Sunday can be so blasphemously and inaccurately commandeered for political and tribal purposes (for the Rising did not even take place on that particular feast day). No wonder we have 300,000 empty homes, nearly enough to give to every single person who's lost their job in the past 18 months. No wonder that our banks have now literally ruptured the State. No wonder that ruin is what the unredeemed Fianna Fail, failure-revering culture has always created throughout its history.

No wonder.

kmyers@independent.ie


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