3/12/2006

Salute our heroes of 16

I see Tom McGurk has an excellent article in today's Sunday Business Post where he rubbishes much of the revisionist nonsense which has recently come to light from elements in Irish society who would try to convince us that the hereos of 1916 were not in fact heroes at all and that the state should not be honouring their memory.

Unfortunately many people with views such as this do exist and they often attempt to use intellectual snobbery to articulate their revisionist view of history. To them, patriotism is not a virtue and celebrating the birth of our nation is not a worthy endeavour. Such views are not uncommon to hear on the Irish blogosphere and have indeed been articulated on this site by people who try to claim that 1916 was a act of "terrorism". Those trying to sustantiate this gross misunderstanding often claim two things - 1. that with Home Rule already promised, the Rebellion was unnecessary and also that 2. the Rebellion was illegitimate as it had no mandate. McGurk rightly points out that these arguements entirely miss the relevant points, whether they do so on purpose or not is debatable. To say that Home Rule should have been acceptable to the founders of the state is to ignore what the Easter Martyrs stood for;

Home Rule and the concept of an Irish Republic were not simply totally different things, but they were actually diametrically opposed to each other.

Given that the Redmondite Home Rule party was largely composed of the Irish middle class and large farmers who had done well out of the late 19th century land reform, Home Rule was intended to give an emerging Irish class, who were now doing well out of John Bull’s Other Island, a share in their own colonisation.It was actually a subtle method of harnessing - while simultaneously subverting - Irish national aspirations to the wider imperial agenda.

A Home Rule parliament was simply a devolutionary device to corral the growing demands for Irish democracy into a legislature whose ultimate control lay under the Crown and the Commons. If the notion of an Irish Republic was freehold, then Home Rule was no more than tenancy

I've also heard many people drone on about the lack of a mandate from the Irish people for the actions of 1916 but as McGurk points out, revolution, espicially at that time, can often be one step ahead of the people. There were people fighting in Dublin in 1916 with no right to be there, but those people were the British forces who had annexed Ireland for their own benefit and then tried to impose their own rule and soverignity on an island which did not want them. That is truely undemocratic. McGurk puts this point more eloquently than I ever could with the following arguement;

Complaints are being made that the 1916 leaders never sought democratic mandates (in what elections to what Irish parliament might they have stood?) and that their actions were entirely unmandated.

The fact that revolutionaries by definition seek to alter national perspectives so radically that they must act first, and subsequently seek approval, is still being misunderstood.It was actually the precise circumstances of the colonial relationship between Britain and Ireland, and the growing threat of Home Rule to cunningly alter it, that made Pearse and company act in the way they did. Believing as they did in an sovereign Irish people, British rule in Ireland was entirely a product of conquest and therefore devoid of moral authority.

In less than a month's time the people of Ireland were see the events of 1916 being commemorated in our capital. I say to the Irish people, feel no shame at this, these are the people who founded our nation, who laid down their lives that our nation might be free. Show pride in their memory and do not heed those who would try to exhume the flame of patriotism with the blanket of ignorant revisionism.

PS - Fair play to Tom for coming up with possible the best paragraph describing Kevin Myers the Irish media is ever likely to see!

Myers in The Irish Times has been threatening to turn into his own caricature, his dinner party history lessons growing ever more tedious. How remarkable, for example, that his schoolboy fetish with militarism still excludes the notion of the Irish using force for Irish ends.

No comments: