McGurk on The Easter Rising Debate

In-between presenting Ireland’s Six Nations games on RTE, Tom McGurk finds time to pen thoughts in his Sunday Business Post column. This week he takes on the 1916 ‘grumblers,’ including in his sights the Irish Times’ pin-up Colonel, Mr. Kevin Myers

  • J McConnell

    10,000 plus dead. 100,000 plus wounded. 150,000 plus forced to leave their homes.

    Generation after generation blighted by the sterile rhetoric of violence, inferiority and hate.

    That is what has been bequeathed to us over the last 90 years by the ‘revolutionaries’ of 1916.

    And I am supposed to celibate this?

    I look at the Scotland and Wales of 100 years ago and the Scotland and Wales of today, and ask myself – What exactly did these ‘great Irish revolutionaries’ achieve?

    What precious freedoms did they gives the people of Ireland that were denied the inhabitants of Scotland and Wales?

    The freedom for the people of the South to be oppressed and exploited generation after generation by gombeens, gurriers and gobshites, and a brutal power-crazed church.

    The freedom of the people in the North to suffer generation after generation of soul destroying sectarian hatred and violence.

    10,000 plus dead. 100,000 plus wounded. 150,000 plus forced to leave thei homes.

    That’s an awful lot of suffering Mr McGurk. Was it really worth it? Just so you and your ilk can indulgence in your smug sanctimonious identity politics.

    I’ll be thinking of Redmond and Dillon this Easter and what might have been. The innocent lives saved, the tears not shed, the hopes and dreams not lost, the evil in this island that might never have been let loose to destroy so many lives.

  • PaddyCanuck

    The dead, the wounded, the dispossessed, the sectarian hatred and violence, they are the legacy of British misrule in Ireland, they were not bequeathed by the men of 1916.

  • foreign correspondent

    The figures cited above pale in comparison to the numbers killed, wounded and displaced by WW1, which was supposedly fought for the ‘freedom of small nations’ but somehow the people who are so scathing about the struggle for national independence in Ireland are the same people who are only too keen to glorify and sanctify the ‘sacrifices of the Great War’

    War is shit, basically. Time to stop glorifying imperial wars, wars of independence, wars of deception (e.g. Iraq), or any other type of war. If humans finally ´get´ that we might just survive as a race.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Redmond and Dillon, my arse. How many thousands were slaughtered on the strength of Redmond’s speech at Woodenbridge alone?

  • Jacko

    “No wonder Lenin, Gandhi and the young Mao were so affected by it”.

    So two of the greatest mass murderers in the history of mankind, Lenin and Mao, were influenced by the 1916 rebels?
    What more needs to be said.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”The freedom for the people of the South to be oppressed and exploited generation after generation by gombeens, gurriers and gobshites, and a brutal power-crazed church.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Aside from the above, the glorious revolution of 1916 appears to have achieved a republic which is basically a pale copy of their Brit neighbours. What exactly is the difference between Dublin and Glasgow? Anyone? I’ve visited both cities this year and other than bilingual direction signs, I’m damned if I can see what independence has acheived.
    English accents everywhere, British TV channels, huge British premiership interest, a national soccer team stuffed with British players, English the ubiquitous tongue, insane house prices…..

  • Jacko

    Gerry Lvs Castro

    Not to mention a national football team brought to prominence by an English manager and another Englishman now in place to keep an eye on the local boy.
    Yeah, this independence thing is great.

  • Tochais Siorai

    This independence thing has been a really bad idea. If there was a referendum in the morning I’m sure at least 1% maybe even 2% would vote to join the UK.

  • Brian Boru

    “I look at the Scotland and Wales of 100 years ago and the Scotland and Wales of today, and ask myself – What exactly did these ‘great Irish revolutionaries’ achieve?”

    An economy with a higher income-per-head than the UK. Home Rule would not have allowed us to make the necessary changes e.g. corporation tax, to achieve that.

    “English accents everywhere”

    Huh?

    “I’ll be thinking of Redmond and Dillon this Easter and what might have been. The innocent lives saved, the tears not shed, the hopes and dreams not lost, the evil in this island that might never have been let loose to destroy so many lives.”

    That is so sweet. But it was partition that unleashed those evils, not 1916.

  • Brian Boru

    “This independence thing has been a really bad idea. If there was a referendum in the morning I’m sure at least 1% maybe even 2% would vote to join the UK.”

    More like 0.000001%. Someone standing on a Unionist platform scored 101 votes out of 66,000 in Dublin-North by-election in 1998. And that’s with 110,000 Brits down here. Even they don’t want to turn back the clock. 🙂

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”I’m sure at least 1% maybe even 2% would vote to join the UK.”

    No arguments there TS, though had the EU never existed, I suspect that figure would be considerably higher. As things stand, there would be little reason for the republic to vote itself into an entity which they’re merely a green-tinted mirror-image of anyway.
    The contention here is that independence has acheived virtually nothing. If you count a narrow, insular nationalism and a pitiable deference to a bunch of women-hating child abusers an acheivement, then yeah, it was well worth it. If you don’t, perhaps you can outline some of the advantages accrued to the ’26 counties’ by independence.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”An economy with a higher income-per-head than the UK. Home Rule would not have allowed us to make the necessary changes e.g. corporation tax, to achieve that.”

    And how long since independence has this been the case BB? The Republic languished in poverty for nearly 70 years.

    “English accents everywhere”

    ”Huh?”

    This was a reference to my personal experience on a recent trip to Dublin, which appears to have become a mecca for English business trips, stag & hen parties, day trippers, British chain stores and property investors. My point being that the magnificent struggle to rid Ireland of the brits appears to have resulted in the place being awash with them.

  • Dec

    Dublin… a mecca for English business trips, stag & hen parties, day trippers, British chain stores and property investors

    All good signs of a thriving economy I would have thought. Thats one advantage, I think. BTW what happened to the North’s economy since Independence?

  • Jacko

    “BTW what happened to the North’s economy since Independence”.

    Well, for between 40 and 50 years of that period, all told, it came under sustained attack from republican terrorists.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Needless to say the North’s economy has suffered due to the troubles / armed struggle (though there is an argument that some parts of the province’s economy prospered at this time through massive British subventions in the security and building industry amongst others). Despite the civil strife, the NI economy and standard of living was ahead of most areas of the Republic, which languished in comparitive poverty both before and during the conflict. Since peace has broken out, Belfast in particular has become almost unrecognisable due to flagship developments, high quality housing and a general influx of capital. Much of the housing stock in Northern Ireland is superior to that of British cities such as Glasgow or Manchester, and friends who recently moved here from Kent were astounded at the number of Audis, BMWs & 4x4s on the roads.
    Economically, the link with Britain has been a major plus for NI and it is only in the last two decades that the Republic has caught up during what may well be a short-lived ‘celtic tiger’ phase.
    Given the long-term choice, I’d prefer to remain part of the fourth largest economy in the world, but don’t let me stop you taking your chances in the republic.

  • GrassyNoel

    So two of the greatest mass murderers in the history of mankind, Lenin and Mao, were influenced by the 1916 rebels?
    What more needs to be said.

    Er Jacko, I think you’re confusing LENIN with STALIN there.

    What more needs to be said, indeed.

  • Jacko

    “Er Jacko, I think you’re confusing LENIN with STALIN there”.

    Er, actually I’m not.
    If you know anything about Russian history you will know that Lenin was also a mass murderer. That Stalin happened to be a greater mass murderer hardly detracts from what Lenin did.

  • Dec

    Gerry

    You’ll find you’re hanging off the arse of the 4th largest economy in the world bearing in mind that wages and GDP per capita are significantly lower than the UK average. Add in the low level of new business start-ups and the worrying lack of skills levels of certain sections of the workforce and not forgetting to mention that the public sector accounts for 63% of the economy of Northern Ireland, which is substantially higher than in other parts of the United Kingdom, or even in any continental European country. In total, the British government subvention totals £5bn, or 20% of economic output.
    Despite low unemployment, working-age economic inactivity is 28%, which is the highest of any UK region.
    Northern Ireland’s macroeconomy is also characterised by considerably longer actual working hours and lower sexual income disparity than in the United Kingdom as a whole.

    But if your indicators for a thriving economy are determined by anecdotal evidence a higher than average presence of German motor cars, fair play to you.

    Jacko

    So are you blaming the Soviet and Chinese purges on Sinn Fein, now?

  • Jo

    I wrote on this recently on JOGLOG.

    Easter 1916 bequeathed 7 years of direct violence, partition, the attainment of a state which in economic terms equated Home Rule which was on the cards anyway, decades of economic misrule, twitching curtains, emigration (ironically to the country that the *war* had been with), Church repression and 2 generations of sexual abuse in alliance with the State; and a legacy enduring over eighty years, that Partition justified violence.

    Oh and thousands of dead Irish people, slain by Irish people, for Ireland.

    But still, its the fault of them Brits. Thats the most insidious legacy of 1916, the outlawing of intellectual mirrors lest Irish people ever blame themselves for making a pointless mistake 90 years ago.

  • Dec

    Jo

    A similar argument could be put forward against American Independence in that within 80 years it resulted in a civil war that resulted in 970,000 casualties (3 percent of the population). Hindsight was not a luxury not available to people in 1916.

    Btw

    Blaming Irish people for introducing Church repression into Ireland is just plain wrong.

  • German-American

    I find it passing strange that people are attempting to justify or attack the 1916 rising based on the current per capita income in the ROI or the presence of English businesses in Dublin. Small-“n” nationalism (i.e., nationalism in general, not specifically in the Irish sense) has little to do with economic matters per se. It’s almost a purely emotional issue, having to do with the desire of (all or most) people within a given territory to have a sense of themselves as a unified entity, both looking past to the past with a shared story about their origins, and looking to the future with a sense of having control of their own destiny.

    Sure, often times that shared story of the past is to some extent self-deluding or simply made up. (In the US context, see for example the “winning of the west” narratives.) And often times a “nation” really isn’t a truly independent actor, but is subject to the heavy influence of a larger nearby neighbor or neighbors. (For example, see Canada.) But I don’t think that that means that the emotional claims of nationalism (again, small “n”) can simply be dismissed as alternately silly or vicious.

    After all, everybody’s a nationalist if you go back back enough in history. If you take to an extreme the logic of the people in this thread who decry the 1916 rising and its consequences, then you might conclude that life would be so much better if Britain were still a Roman province under the Empire (the original one) or that the English should have happily accepted being ruled from Normandy.

    Again, by the logic of some, when I celebrate the Fourth of July and the American revolution I guess I’m celebrating thousands of deaths that would have been totally unnecessary had the American colonists simply realized they would be better off remaining a British colony. Certainly there’s good arguments in favor of that: Most notably, the US would have been much better off abolishing slavery in the same timeframe and manner as the rest of the British Empire, as opposed to having it lead to a brutal civil war followed by a hundred plus years of racial tension and turbulence. In that sense George Washington and his associates have a lot to answer for, even more I might claim than Pearse, Connolly, et.al.

    But when all is said and done, although I’ll acknowledge the dark side of US history and the somewhat mixed motives of our founders, I’m not going to be ashamed of being a nationalist (American-style), and I don’t think Irish nationalists should be either. I do understand why emotions are raw about this in the present day, just as I can understand why celebrating the American nation and the (US) Union would have provoked raw emotions in Georgia or Virginia in the 1870s.

    I know this sounds like pablum, but I think the only answer is mutual civility (if nothing more than that), an acknowledgement of past grievances, and the political will to make the future better than the past. Then perhaps Easter rising celebrations in 2106 (or especially 2116) will be viewed much differently than they are today.

  • Jacko

    “Jacko

    So are you blaming the Soviet and Chinese purges on Sinn Fein, now?”
    Who mentioned Sinn Fein?
    I merely quoted the author of the piece who proudly boasted of Lenin and Mao learning from 1916.
    It is he who has drawn a connection between the activities of two mass murderers and 1916.

  • German-American

    Sigh… the last comment of 1:25 pm was by me, German-American. (I certainly think it would be strange for PaddyCanuck to be celebrating the Fourth of July 🙂

  • foreign correspondent

    ´´I think the only answer is mutual civility (if nothing more than that), an acknowledgement of past grievances, and the political will to make the future better than the past. Then perhaps Easter rising celebrations in 2106 (or especially 2116) will be viewed much differently than they are today. ´´

    German-American or whoever it is, is talking a lot more sense than most of us here…

  • Jo

    I still find it totally irrational that a few executions post-1916 (remember, these were days when capital punishment was commonplace) should have had the dramatic impact on political perceptions that is claimed by some.

    What else could reasonably have been done – in time of war? There surely was a case for many more to be executed than actually were.

  • Dec

    Jo

    I’m finding your logic a little muddled here. First you attack the Easter Rising due to it legacy of bitterness, death and division then, almost in the same breath (albeit different post), lament that the British didn’t execute more of the leaders. Considering most historians recognise that it was the executions that directly led to the revitalisation of the nationalist consciousness and therefore the momentous events of 1918-22 and beyond, aren’t you backing the wrong horse here?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”You’ll find you’re hanging off the arse of the 4th largest economy in the world bearing in mind that wages and GDP per capita are significantly lower than the UK average.”

    Fair dos — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to a large extent ‘hanging off the arse’ of England economically, and NI is never going to be the most prosperous part of the UK, but I’d prefer to take my chances with a major economic power than a backwater state whose main acheivements in 85 years have been narrow nationalism, subservience to clerical abuse, mass emigration to the ‘oul enemy’ and a potentially short-lived economic boom brought on largely as a result of massive EU subvention. Let’s face it — Ireland’s natural resource is tourism — how would you come back from a major economic slump?

    ”I know this sounds like pablum, but I think the only answer is mutual civility (if nothing more than that), an acknowledgement of past grievances, and the political will to make the future better than the past.”

    Absolutely, though I have to say from the eyes of a Northern Unionist, it’s difficult to see much civility on the horizon, given the hysterical reaction to a small Unionist parade in Dublin, the naming of Father Reid as Tipperary’s ‘man of the year’ despite loudly referring to Unionists as Nazis just a few months ago, and the continual push by the republican movement to ‘make partition history’ despite their apparent acceptance in the GFA that NI would remain part of the UK for as long as a majority so wish, which on current demographic trends is likely to be longer than anyone on this board is going to be around.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    JMc: ”Blaming Irish people for introducing Church repression into Ireland is just plain wrong.”

    No of course — it was the Brits wot done it. They insisted the RC church have a ‘special position’ within the state, they let them interfere in education, healthcare, family planning, sexual matters and anything else they fancied. It was the Brits who encouraged the Christian Brothers & the Sisters of Mercy to brutalise and abuse children. And no way did anyone from the govt, the press or the police force obstruct, cover-up and deny clerical abuse for decades.

  • Jo

    I believe that the Rising was unnecessary and that it led directly to the things you outline. Had it not happned, the imposition of partition might have led to an equally inconclusive north/south civil war – same result!

    Where did I *lament* that more were not executed?

    It seems reasonable that more could have been?

    Should 200 extreme Loyalists – inspired by armchair bloggers, perhaps – storm the City Hall today and fight tooth and nail for an Independent Ulster, would their jailing/execution lead to Unionist embracing independence? I dont think so. Yet nationalism changed in an equivalent way after 1916 in ways which I and many others can’t quite comprehend.

  • GrassyNoel

    Jacko, come off it mate. It’s absolute lunacy that you are trying to link SF & the 1916 rising to the massacre of millions in Asia.

    But even if it WERE true, what are you suggesting? That generations of people all over the world ought to agree to remain enslaved to a colonial ruler just because to overthrow the empire that rules them for no other reason than that it conquered their country by the illegal use of superior force, would place them in a vulnerable position from a PR point of view when the subsequent inevitable instability ensues because of the power vacuum created by the invader? I don’t think anyone could rationally argue that that is NOT the fault of the imperial power which took hold of power in the first place.

    Perhaps we should all go back to the days of the Greeks and Romans then. The British Empire wasn’t the first one, you know..”if you know anything about history”..etc.

    GRASSYNOEL

  • Dec

    Jo

    What else could reasonably have been done – in time of war? There surely was a case for many more to be executed than actually were

    (Sounds like a lament to me)

    So Irish people killing Irish people is bad (agreed btw) but British people tying them to chairs and shooting them is good?

    Gerry Lvs Castro

    JMc: ‘’Blaming Irish people for introducing Church repression into Ireland is just plain wrong.’’

    No of course—it was the Brits wot done it.

    Well, actually yes, they did. The Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652 is a good starting point for research.

  • Nathan

    Gerry Lvs Castro,

    The special position clause had nothing whatsoever to do with the general populace, and to say otherwise is disingenuous.

    It was a prominent Presbyterian Fianna Failer, http://www.politics.ie/wiki/index.php?title=James_Alexander_Hamilton_Irwin, who drafted the wording of the ‘special position’ clause. So if you want someone to blame then look no further than him.

  • Jo

    Dec:

    Look in my eyes. I am not lamenting!
    I am asking a question. A rebellion in the middle of a world war was reasonably punishable by the standards of the time (indeed, arguably, our own time) by execution. How many sentences of execution were reprieved? Why did people change their views to the extent that they did, because of a relatively small number of executions in responmse to an act which caused immense damage to Dublin city centre and cost many ordinary Irish people their lives? (And if I am patronised by the catechism of a man being tied to a chair again I will scream!)

    I know how Connolly died, thank you! Why is it that that image is constantly repeated like a mantra? How is it no-one knows the detail of how the Soloheadbeg RIC men died? Does that shooting *justify* shooting anyone in a uniform or out of it for the next 80 years?

  • Jacko

    GrassyNoel

    I repeat.
    It wasn’t me but the author of the piece who boasted of Lenin and Mao being inspired by 1916.
    I merely pointed out that they both were mass murderers so, by the authors lights, what does that say of 1916.

    Whether true or not, I actually find it hilarious that he thought it was something worth boasting about.

  • Dodging through the bullets of priest state, economic backwater et al i would have thought one thing the Irish people could say they’ve achieved (even if stated by a few people who seem offended by the existence of the Irish Republic, thats is merely a UK copy) is a modern prosperous Republic.
    The really neat part is that they did it by themselves, yes the feckless, indolent Irish really could run more than a brewery after all, lets be honest that is what the ruling English classes thought of the Irish pre- Independence.
    Whats more they achieved this feat without enslaving millions of Africans in one of our colonies or pilfering many places of national treasures,unlike the country we left.
    The English Stag parties come to Ireland and view us as equals, which is one huge improvement than the pre 1916 Ireland. Its a young country, it can and will get better. It may even mature into a real UK copy and annexe the wee province to its north 😉

  • Lorenzo

    My own view is that the early 20th century period marked the beginning of the ‘modern’ era. Before then were empires, monarchy and almost constant low tech warfare. After it came nation states, democracy and mass-scale, industrialised warfare. Art changed. Literature changed. Private and public morality changed. Obviously not all of these changes happened at once in a ‘big bang’ way but the tipping point of the modern era appears to be somewhere around then.

    For me, the 1916 rebellion was an action born of the previous era. To judge it by the morals of the modern era is not helpful or correct. On the otherhand the Proclaimation is of the modern era and that is what should be celebrated, not the rebellion.

    I would say McGurk should stick the rugby punditry but he isn’t terribly good at that either.

    Lorenzo

  • Dec

    Jo

    A rebellion in the middle of a world war was reasonably punishable by the standards of the time (indeed, arguably, our own time) by execution.

    Whilst that may have been the view of many in Britain (though not Winston Churchill who could see what was coming) it clearly wasn’t the view held by the majority of Irishmen and women. If you can’t imagine what on earth people were getting upset about allow me to break it down for you: people tend to get upset when their fellow countrymen are executed by foreigners in their own country. Hence the contrast in national reaction to the execution of Padraig Pearse by the British and say, Liam Fellowes, by the Free State Government.

  • German-American

    “I have to say from the eyes of a Northern Unionist, it’s difficult to see much civility on the horizon, given the hysterical reaction to a small Unionist parade in Dublin, the naming of Father Reid as Tipperary’s ‘man of the year’ despite loudly referring to Unionists as Nazis just a few months ago, and the continual push by the republican movement to ‘make partition history’”

    I agree that much if not all of the opposition to the Dublin march was incivil or bordered on such, and I also agree that it’s incivil to compare your political opponents or their ancestors to Nazis (or to speak in a way that could be easily interpreted as such). However I don’t think pursuing a legitimate political goal (like “making partition history”) is in and of itself incivil.

    An example from the other side: IMO it’s incivil to try to paint present-day SF as a party of unregenerate terrorists and thugs totally unfit to rule over anyone. However it’s perfectly civil to point out that a party wishing to be in government (whether in the ROI or NI) should acknowledge the legitimacy of that government and its monopoly on the use of force.

    [posted by German-American]

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”The special position clause had nothing whatsoever to do with the general populace, and to say otherwise is disingenuous.”

    The original quote was ‘blaming Irish people’ not the general populace. I would assume that Mr.Irwin as a prominient member of FF was Irish, regardless of his religious affiliation.
    This notwithstanding, the fact remains that the RC church were ALLOWED to bully, abuse and brutalise the populace for decades — not only with FF permission, but the complicity of the press, the police force, the medical profession and society in general, who, through some apparent religious delusion, refused to acknowledge that the guardians of the nation’s spirituality and morals could be anything less than 100% pure.
    At the risk of being accused of being anecdotal (again), I’ll give just one personal example: in the late 60s as a small boy, I was walking down a busy street in a town in Donegal, when we witnessed a priest striding towards a man and his young son on the other side of the street. Without any warning, the priest struck the man several times around the head and shoulders with a wooden cane, causing the man to fall over. The priest then proceeded to berate him for not being at mass. No-one in the street stopped or even appeared concerned.
    This sort of thing and much much worse went on for decades with the tacit approval of all stratas of Irish society. Your implicit suggestion that the Irish people were able to break the shackles of British rule, but were powerless against the jackboot of the clergy appears rather bizarre.

  • Eoin

    ’’The freedom for the people of the South to be oppressed and exploited generation after generation by gombeens, gurriers and gobshites, and a brutal power-crazed church.’’

    I know its a cliche but.. I’d rather be exploited by local gombeens, gurriers and gobshites, then by London gombeens, gurriers and gobshites (with the help of a royal family and hereditary peers).

    The Catholic church did have far too much power in the first 50 years after indenpendance, for my liking. But those were different times, Ireland is more secular and multicultural now than back then and I imagine the same is true for Britain.
    In fact, I believe that by being a republic, as opposed to a monarchy where the head of state has an offical role within a church, has made the transition to a secular multicultural state easier and more inevitable.

  • Eoin

    That last post is not by Dec2, but me, Eoin.
    Don’t know how that happened!

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”IMO it’s incivil to try to paint present-day SF as a party of unregenerate terrorists and thugs totally unfit to rule over anyone.”

    To be fair German-American, it’s not only the Unionists who are less than enamoured of ‘present-day SF’. None of the mainstream political parties in the republic are prepared to envisage sharing power with them at the next election.

    ”it’s incivil to compare your political opponents or their ancestors to Nazis (or to speak in a way that could be easily interpreted as such).”

    Father Reid said, in front of a large audience and a microphone; ‘you Unionists, you’re all Nazis as far as I’m concerned’. How much interpretation do you need?
    A charge like this isn’t ‘incivil’ — it’s criminal. Anyone want to compare Burntollet to Belsen? The whole thing is ridiculous.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”I know its a cliche but.. I’d rather be exploited by local gombeens, gurriers and gobshites, then by London gombeens, gurriers and gobshites (with the help of a royal family and hereditary peers).”

    Sorry I thought becoming independent was about improving things, not having a different style of jackboot grinding your face in the mud…….

    ”I believe that by being a republic, as opposed to a monarchy where the head of state has an offical role within a church, has made the transition to a secular multicultural state easier and more inevitable.”

    The two major reasons for the recent (and long overdue) secularisation of the republic were the disgust at the endless clerical abuse scandals and the economic prosperity of the general populace. We can only hope that this enlightenment continues.
    Regarding the monarchy’s role regarding the Church of England, I doubt much comment is required. The C of E has been in full retreat for decades regardless of the involvement of the monarchy — British secularisation has come about through the common sense of the majority of the population.

  • Eoin

    “Sorry I thought becoming independent was about improving things, not having a different style of jackboot grinding your face in the mud.”
    It was about improvment and self-government. IMO, though the differnce between living in Britain and Ireland is slight, I prefer living in Ireland.

    And by the way, at no time have I ever felt that my goverment was a “jackboot grinding my face in the mud”. But perhaps you feel that way about your government?

    “The two major reasons for the recent (and long overdue) secularisation of the republic were the disgust at the endless clerical abuse scandals and the economic prosperity of the general populace.”
    Those are 2 of the major reasons. There are a few more. Such as closer intergration with Europe, wider access to information via TV and the internet, and “the common sense of the majority of the population.”
    “We can only hope that this enlightenment continues.” I agree. Long may secualarism and republicanism advance.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jo

    On the question of the executions of the Rising leaders, the fact is that the executions were discontinued when the effect they were having on the population became clear to the British Court Martial in Dublin Castle. Dozens of others were sentenced to death by the Courts Martial but had their sentences commuted as popular opposition to the executions mounted. DeValera is the most famous of the lucky ones. (The fact that he was born in New York is often thought to have saved his bacon but in fact his American citizenship only bought him some time – the Brits were busy trying to seduce Wilson into joining the war effort and weren’t going to start shooting US citizens without checking with Washington first – but DeValera would have died at Kilmainham had it not been for the public reaction. So, by buying him some time, DeV’s US citizenship DID save his bacon.)

    But you say you don’t understand the emotive impact this had on the Irish people? Well, for one thing, it was Irishmen being executed by foreigners in Ireland. (I remember a lot of nationalist people – strong SDLP people who absolutely despised the IRA and would cross the street when they saw a known volunteer coming – who despite themselves had the same emotional reaction at the time of the Loughgall massacre. Not that they gave a damn about the dead men.) And also, remember the factor of the incremental passage of time. (A lesson that the hunger strikers were to recall almost seven decades later.) The sixteen leaders (including Casement) weren’t executed at once. They were killed individually, one after another, day after day, creating headlines for weeks, giving people the sense that the vengeance – this British vengeance against Irish men, happening in Ireland – would never end. The sea-change in public opinion built gradually.

    I’m not asking you to agree or say that it’s right, but is your understanding any clearer now?

    Oh, and on the question of the Rising: clearly one of its outcomes was the Republic of Ireland. That is a good thing. Before we ever even get to questions of economic performance (currently world-class, after long years of post-colonial depression) or social progressively (ditto), the most fundamental question that can be asked of any state is this: Is the state’s existence a genuine expression of the settled will of its people?

    For all its problems, the Free State/Republic’s existence clearly IS a genuine expression of the settled will of its people. (Clearly the northern state cannot claim this, but that’s another question.) So that’s the end of the debate on whether the Republic should exist, and is ONE reason why 1916 should be celebrated.

    Oh, and Jo, I think the point McGurk was making re. Mao and Lenin was on the question of revolutionary tactics. They did, after all, lead the two largest-scale revolutions in human history, and they did point to the 1916 revolutionaries as having given them an example of how to achieve their revolutions. Clearly what they did after their revolutions cannot have been influenced by the men and women of the GPO, as the 1916 revolution never put Pearse or Connolly into office. Yet you prefer to misconstrue McGurk’s point and link the 1916 rebels with the crimes Mao and Lenin committed once in office, even though the GPO insurgents never held office. This approach clearly lacks intellectual rigour. Also, it is clearly partisan.

    You admit that you cannot understand the impact of the executions on the Irish psyche – how do you ever hope to understand such things when you approach the issue so prejudicially, with such a closed mind?

  • Jo

    I havent got a closed mind, just an enquiring one. And if I seem pretty cold, well I just feel pretty contemptuous at people who wantonly and needlessly inflicted violent revolution with no justification such as, say that of the French revolution or the fight against apartheid. Not really in the same ball park, Ireland 1916, was it?

  • Jo

    “Yet you prefer to misconstrue McGurk’s point and link the 1916 rebels with the crimes Mao and Lenin committed once in office,”

    I do, do I? Funnily enough I wasnt even making that point at all.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”And by the way, at no time have I ever felt that my goverment was a “jackboot grinding my face in the mud”. But perhaps you feel that way about your government?”

    My ‘jackboot’ comment was not about the Irish govt, it referred to the brutality of the RC church. My inference was that the people of the republic had exchanged the ‘jackboot’ (as they saw it at the time) of British rule for the jackboot of clerical rule.

    ”Long may secualarism and republicanism advance.”

    You already have a republic. How do you propose to ‘advance’?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Oops, sorry, that 0510 post was mine.

    Billy Pilgrim

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jo

    Yes, you’re quite right, it was Jacko. Apologies. Still, if my example isn’t the best, I still think the thrust of my argument stands.

    Gerry Lvs Castro

    “Father Reid said, in front of a large audience and a microphone; ‘you Unionists, you’re all Nazis as far as I’m concerned’. How much interpretation do you need? A charge like this isn’t ‘incivil’—it’s criminal. Anyone want to compare Burntollet to Belsen? The whole thing is ridiculous.”

    Actually GLC, unless you have access to evidence that the rest of us aren’t, that’s an absolute lie. Father Reid was addressing a public meeting at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, jointly with Methodist clergyman Rev Harold Good, discussing the recent acts of IRA decommissioning that he had been witness to. As he was speaking he was ambushed from the floor by Willie Frazer – whom we all know. Frazer harangued Father Reid for an extended period while Father Reid attempted to keep his composure. Rev Ken Newell, the former Presbyterian moderator, was present, and described Frazer’s remarks as “below the belt”.
    Then, finally, snapping, Father Reid said: “The reality is that the nationalist community in Northern Ireland were treated almost like animals by the unionist community. They were not treated like human beings. It was like the Nazis treatment of the Jews.”

    If he hadn’t mentioned the Nazis then, frankly, it would have been fair comment, but he DID mention the Nazis, and in doing so made himself ridiculous. Unionism’s crimes cannot be compared with those of the Nazis – thematic comparisons are puerile when confronted with evil of such sheer magnitude.

    In fairness to Father Reid, he made a complete and unqualified and public apology before he even left the building. Rev Good said he hoped people would accept Father Reid’s apology. Rev Newell did too.

    Now, GLC, you have actually QUOTED Father Reid above – can you provide a source for the quote? If you can, fair enough.

    If you can’t, then I’m going to call you a slanderer and a liar.

    Billy Pilgrim

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jo

    “And if I seem pretty cold, well I just feel pretty contemptuous at people who wantonly and needlessly inflicted violent revolution with no justification such as, say that of the French revolution or the fight against apartheid. Not really in the same ball park, Ireland 1916, was it?”

    Why wasn’t it? Seriously, without getting into the outcomes of the various revolutions you suggest as exemplars, but instead concentrating on the conditions that led to all these revolutions, why do you think revolutionary conditions in Ireland were so markedly different from France in 1789 or South Africa in 1989? (I’d contend, for example, that the 1916 revolution occurred in more acute circumstances than the French revolution.)

    I suspect you are simply sorting Good Revolutions from Bad Revolutions (which might explain why you overlook the Russia 1917) – again partisan, and again based on subsequent events rather than the conditions in which they took place.

    But maybe I’m doing you an injustice?

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • Eoin

    ‘’Long may secualarism and republicanism advance.’’

    You already have a republic. How do you propose to ‘advance’?

    I believe that republicanism is the most democratic form of statehood. When I say, “Long may republicanism adavance”, I mean simply that, I hope the republic of Ireland endures as a republic and that other monarchies/theocracies/etc become republics.

  • Eoin

    “And if I seem pretty cold, well I just feel pretty contemptuous at people who wantonly and needlessly inflicted violent revolution with no justification such as, say that of the French revolution or the fight against apartheid. Not really in the same ball park, Ireland 1916, was it?”

    Many countries round the world were colonies of the British Empire, and at some stage wanted out. Why should Ireland have been any different?

  • German-American

    “To be fair German-American, it’s not only the Unionists who are less than enamoured of ‘present-day SF’.” I didn’t say that civility demanded that anyone be enamoured of SF; I simply noted that IMO it would be incivil to try to paint SF as nothing more than “terrorists”, “thugs”, “fascists”, etc. (and thus SF voters as simply supporters of terrorism, thuggery, and fascism). To turn things around, I think it’s also incivil (for example) for SF supporters or others to try to portray the DUP and its supporters as nothing more than sectarian bigots and apologists for loyalist violence.

    If you’re forced to share a country with people whose views you oppose (and that’s going to be the case regardless of whether NI stays in the UK or becomes part of the ROI) then gratuitously insulting those people (or their ancestors) doesn’t seem like a good prescription for long-term social harmony. (That’s a general comment by the way, not one directed at Gerry Lvs. Castro.)

    On Father Reid’s comments, I couldn’t remember the exact quote and didn’t want to take the time to look it up, so I didn’t want to make an unreserved condemnation. Having gone back and read the original quote I agree that it was definitely incivil and should be condemned as such. To say that it’s “criminal” implies that comments like that should be illegal; I think “absurd” and “stupid” are closer to the mark.

    ]posted by German-American]

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Now, GLC, you have actually QUOTED Father Reid above – can you provide a source for the quote? If you can, fair enough.

    If you can’t, then I’m going to call you a slanderer and a liar.”

    Nice sentiments Billy. I’m assuming you don’t live in NI, or perhaps you didn’t have access to Radio Ulster in the 48 hours or so after the incident. Father Reid’s comments were played on ‘Talkback’ on at least three occasions, including the ‘Best of Talkback’ the following Saturday. They were also played on ‘Evening Extra’ that evening. I don’t have an audio transcript, but I’m standing 100% by my quote.
    Father Reid was undoubtedly provoked, but this comment was not said in the heat of the moment. During a heated verbal exchange, he threatened to walk out if he wasn’t allowed to speak. Fair enough. When relative calm was restored, he made an approximation of your quote above. When several audience members protested loudly, he shouted; ‘you don’t want to hear the truth. You Unionists you’re all Nazis as far as I’m concerned.’
    If anyone can produce an audio of the full exchange I’d be interested, but I’m standing by my quote and fully rejecting your insults.
    As regards the apology, it’s rather pointless to speak what is obviously your firm belief and then apologise for doing so. We’re not talking about some hot-headed kid just out of school here — this is a man well used to addressing large gatherings and well aware of the effect his words would have.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    To say that it’s “criminal” implies that comments like that should be illegal; I think “absurd” and “stupid” are closer to the mark.

    I’ll admit that remarks such as this are not illegal, but to demonise an entire community by comparing their actions to perhaps the most odious dictatorship in history is dangerous to say the least. To add insult to injury, Father Reid referred to PIRA as ‘honourable men.’
    To quote the great Gerry himself; ‘this is not moving the process forward.’

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GLC

    “I’m assuming you don’t live in NI.”

    God help me, I do. Born and raised.

    “or perhaps you didn’t have access to Radio Ulster in the 48 hours or so after the incident. Father Reid’s comments were played on ‘Talkback’ on at least three occasions, including the ‘Best of Talkback’ the following Saturday. They were also played on ‘Evening Extra’ that evening. I don’t have an audio transcript, but I’m standing 100% by my quote.”

    I did hear many of the broadcasts immediately after but I never heard the quote you have included. I never said he didn’t say it, just that your “quote” was one I hadn’t seen before. It would be remarkable, really, if he had said it but it had gone unreported, amid the furore surrounding the thing. I mean, journalistically, the line you “quoted” was the money shot. Did our entire journalistic establishment get together and agree to suppress it? I don’t know.

    If, on the other hand, the “quote” is not a real one, then that’s a very serious thing. If you made the quote up, or half-remembered something you heard second-hand and just plastered it on there as your idea of a paraphrase, then it will have been an egregious lapse. If you can provide a source, then I’ll happily accept that your “quote” is a real one. If not, then the suspicion will remain that you are guilty of a very serious bit of misrepresentation – worthy of being labeled slander and lies. (Though I suppose it’s actually libel.)

    “As regards the apology, it’s rather pointless to speak what is obviously your firm belief and then apologise for doing so.”

    Maybe they aren’t his “firm beliefs”? Why are they “obviously” his “firm beliefs”? There’s nothing “obvious” about it. I don’t think it’s “obvious”. Why do you think it’s “obvious”?

    “We’re not talking about some hot-headed kid just out of school here—this is a man well used to addressing large gatherings and well aware of the effect his words would have.”

    Nonsense. Father Reid is a lifelong publicity-shunner. He is known for his work behind the scenes and has always eschewed the limelight. Look at the decommissioning event, for example – Rev Good did 90% of the talking, and even in his 10% Father Reid stumbled and needed Rev Good to help him out a few times. That’s just the nature of the man.

    Much of what you consider to be “obvious” is serously wide of the mark. It’s what happens when your mind is closed and your opinions lacking in rigour.

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • Jo

    I think as revolutions go, its rather grandiose to comapre Dublin 1916 to Russia 1917. I rather think that WW1 directly impacted on the latter whereas for the former, it was sheer opportunism. Interesting how hungry the 1916 celebrators are to associate with world events of, shall we say, a rather different order 🙂 The initials are forming in my mind someplace M…O…P…is that an E? 😉

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Much of what you consider to be “obvious” is serously wide of the mark. It’s what happens when your mind is closed and your opinions lacking in rigour.

    Absolutely hilarious Billy. We’re discussing a man of mature years who branded a whole community as Nazis — probably the most odious regime in history, and who referred to the IRA as ‘honourable men.’ Tell that to Jean McConville’s family. And you’re claiming that my mind is closed!
    As I stated earlier, I’m standing by what I heard, but even if I got it entirely wrong, the fact remains that this ‘pillar of the community’ compared Unionist treatment of the Roman Catholic population in NI to that of the Nazis. An alarming number of people phoned ‘Talkback’ the next day to agree with him and criticise him for apologising. Comments such as his are deeply unhelpful at best, and demonise the Unionist community at worst. If Unionism behaved like Nazis for instance, why has the RC population grown from 33% to 46% since Northern Ireland’s inception?
    As regards Father Reid’s ‘obvious belief’, are you seriously telling me that a man with his decades of experience suddenly plucked this out of the air as a random insult? As I stated earlier, he waited for silence before making his comments — it was not part of a shouted exchange.
    Particularly after the earlier comments by Mary McAleese, he knew exactly what he was doing.
    It’s obvious to me and many others (including members of his own community) that he meant what he said.

  • lib2016

    World leaders like Gandhi, Mandela, Mao and dozens of others have stated that they were inspired by the Irish fight for freedom. Hurts, don’t it?

    If this thread proves one thing its that unionists have a truly Irish gift for begrudgery and what do we say about begrudgers? 😉

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jo

    “I think as revolutions go, its rather grandiose to comapre Dublin 1916 to Russia 1917.”

    Lenin did. I’ve never heard republicans here making the comparison (though no doubt some have) but the whole point McGurk was making was that the revolutionaries in Russia did. As far as old Vladimir was concerned, Dublin 1916 was a pretty big deal.

    “I rather think that WW1 directly impacted on the latter whereas for the former, it was sheer opportunism.”

    So the 1916 revolution can only be regarded through the prism of WW1? I can’t agree with that. I can see how WW1 might be the all-encompassing reality, when looked at from the imperial perspective. Can you understand why, from the anti-imperial perspective, WW1 was no more than (as Orwell put it) a night of particularly harsh neglect?

    Or in short, that anti-imperialists were more interested in the facts of their own material existence than they were with the outcome of the imperialists’ civil war?

    “Interesting how hungry the 1916 celebrators are to associate with world events of, shall we say, a rather different order :)”

    Either the argument holds water or it doesn’t. There are many people worldwide who regard Ireland’s revolution as a key moment that signalled the beginning of the end for 19th century imperialism. What do you think of that historical analysis?

    “The initials are forming in my mind someplace M…O…P…is that an E? ;)”

    It doesn’t surprise me that you would respond that way.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Billy — at great expense to my dinner, I’ve found a ‘Real Player’ video-clip of the incident which can be viewed here:

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/1013/northpolitics.html
    Click on the ‘Nine News Father Reid’ story.

    The actual quote was: (addressing Willie Frazer) ‘You come from a community which should be thoroughly ashamed of itself. You’re in the same category as the Nazis as far as I’m concerned.’
    This was of course in addition to the Nazi reference you quoted earlier.

    I’ll concede I didn’t get the quote word perfect — what I remembered was ‘You Unionists you’re all Nazis as far as I’m concerned’, but it’s pretty damn close.

  • Jo

    marx did predict that the revolution would occur in britian, not Russia. I think that was why Lenin interpreted 1916 that way. I rather concur with the Robt Kee analysis of the centuries of struggle actually being rather pathetic and ototally isolated skirmishes retrospectively glamourised as 1916 would have been under other circumstances.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    GLC

    “We’re discussing a man of mature years who branded a whole community as Nazis—probably the most odious regime in history, and who referred to the IRA as ‘honourable men.’ Tell that to Jean McConville’s family. And you’re claiming that my mind is closed!”

    To be honest GLC, you seem to be unwilling to concede that the context in which Father Reid made his remarks was significant. His reference to the Nazis was wrong and bears no historical scrutiny, that is not in dispute. He admitted as much himself, within minutes of his initial remarks.

    You aren’t prepared to concede that this means anything. You prefer to contend that his initial remarks – uttered under extreme provocation from the unspeakable Willie Frazer – mean EVERYTHING.

    This does not seem to me to be a reasonable or fair-minded marshalling of the facts. So I ask myself, why aren’t you prepared to be reasonable, to marshal the facts fairly? Why aren’t you prepared to ascribe any good intentions to the man? (A man who, for example, once braved a lynch mob to give last rites to dying soldiers.)

    The obvious answer is that you don’t want to. It suits you better not to. Hence my observation about your mind being closed.

    “As I stated earlier, I’m standing by what I heard, but even if I got it entirely wrong, the fact remains that this ‘pillar of the community’ compared Unionist treatment of the Roman Catholic population in NI to that of the Nazis.”

    Yes he did, but the context, the manner, the nature and the wording of that comparison are still HUGELY important. Or at least they are to anyone who wants to deal with it reasonably and fairly. However, if one were to, for example, absolutely exult in the fact of a Catholic priest slagging unionists, then no such details matter, do they?

    So I repeat: if Father Reid didn’t say what you have quoted him as saying (and maybe he did – I don’t know and you can’t provide evidence) then you are guilty of a very, very serious lapse, and your credibility will be thrown into general question.

    “An alarming number of people phoned ‘Talkback’ the next day to agree with him and criticise him for apologising.”

    So what? Northern Ireland is full of sectarian wingnuts. We all know that.

    The more interesting question is this: Remove the Nazi analogy (which was intellectually puerile and historically illiterate and morally wrong) – but REMOVE that, and Father Reid’s remarks were fair comment. Discuss.

    “Comments such as his are deeply unhelpful at best, and demonise the Unionist community at worst.”

    Certainly they are deeply unhelpful. But demonise the unionist community? Demonise them to whom? He was speaking in a Presbyterian hall to a largely Protestant audience. Was he trying to demonise unionists to themselves? Insulting someone, or making an unfair accusation, isn’t the same as demonising. It’s hard to demonise a majority community, particularly to themselves.

    “As regards Father Reid’s ‘obvious belief’, are you seriously telling me that a man with his decades of experience suddenly plucked this out of the air as a random insult?”

    It seems the most likely explanation. The other explanation, which you seem to be convinced of, is that Father Reid went to a public meeting at a Presbyterian hall – to an event designed to reassure unionists, primarily, over the details of IRA decommissioning – with the premeditated intention of calling his audience (whom he was supposed to be reassuring) Nazis.

    Jesus, look through the pages of Slugger – analogies with the Nazis are so commonplace and so bloody banal that there is even a rhetorical RULE against it (Godwin’s Law). Let’s be honest here, virtually every time anyone makes an historical analogy, the Nazis are the first port of call. Any moron who knows nothing about history can use the N word. (Which frankly has become no more than a synonym for “baddy” anyway.)

    But you think Father Reid had it all figured out beforehand? (“Let’s see now, I’ve just spent the last 30 years trying to get the IRA to abandon violence and have finally seen it happen. I’m in my 70s, my health isn’t the best and I’ve just undermined it further by spending every waking hour for several weeks crawling about the sheughs and bogs of Ireland, and travelling between them hooded and lying in the boot of a car, witnessing IRA decommissioning. Now, having done that, how can I destroy my own credibility? I know, I’ll call unionists Nazis! That’ll do it!)

    “It’s obvious to me and many others (including members of his own community) that he meant what he said.”

    Then you aren’t being fair. It could only possibly be obvious to someone whose mind was already closed on the matter.

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Hmmm, couldn’t open the attachment, but fair enough GLC.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jo

    “Marx did predict that the revolution would occur in Britain, not Russia. I think that was why Lenin interpreted 1916 that way.”

    What, you think Lenin regarded the 1916 rebellion as the beginning of a wider British revolution? Are you serious?

    “I rather concur with the Robt Kee analysis of the centuries of struggle actually being rather pathetic and totally isolated skirmishes retrospectively glamourised as 1916 would have been under other circumstances.”

    It doesn’t surprise me that you have that opinion, but the question is how you have arrived at it? By fair-minded intellectual inquiry? Or because you were born into it?

    Honestly?

    – Billy Pilgrim

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Hmmm, couldn’t open the attachment, but fair enough GLC.”

    Thanks for the ringing endorsement Billy.
    Regarding your earlier post, I never suggested (or thought) that Fr. Reid entered the meeting with any intention of calling Unionists Nazis (though I don’t agree with your notion that ‘Nazis’ and ‘baddies’ are equal insults — Ken Livingstone was recently suspended from his office as London Mayor for a Nazi-style jibe at a journo). As with the best of us when we’ve had a few drinks or been seriously riled by someone, we tend to come out with something really nasty, which we actually felt, but should have kept quiet about. We apologise afterwards of course when we’ve sobered up / calmed down, but the damage has usually been done, as in this case.
    Father Reid not only insulted his audience and the wider community, he also seriously embarressed the republican movement at a time when they were supposed to be taking the moral high ground over decommissioning.

    You rant about my mind being closed, then you describe Willie Frazer as ‘unspeakable.’ Whatever your opinion of the man, he lost five relatives to terrorism, and I certainly wouldn’t describe Father Reid as ‘unspeakable.’ Joseph Mengeles yes Father Reid no.

    ”REMOVE that, and Father Reid’s remarks were fair comment. Discuss.”

    Well let’s see — he said that Unionists treated Roman Catholics worse than animals. He doesn’t specify which animals, but I think it’s fair to assume we’re not talking Crufts entrants here. The analogy that springs to mind in context with the Nazi comment is ‘cattle trucks’, so let’s go for cattle.
    Fair enough, the Stormont administration did some gerrymandering, interfered with housing allocations and effectively denied decent employment to many catholics. No arguments there. But how does this equate with the treatment of animals? Discuss.

    ”It’s hard to demonise a majority community, particularly to themselves.”

    Father Reid knew the proceedings were being filmed and that his potential audience was much larger than those in the hall. His comments were reported throughout Ireland and the UK, and almost certainly further afield. They merely serve to further propogate the myth that Unionists are some form of inhuman monsters who massacred the poor minority. The fact that he apologised is for many an afterthought — what they will remember is the original comment.

    Just imagine if Harold Good had stood up that night and asserted that the nationalist community were all a bunch of terrorists worse than the mafia. How would that have gone down?

    What this sad little incident shows is the continuing depth of downright hatred between the two communities here. We really shouldn’t have been surprised I suppose, and no dancing around on the head of a pin over the context of the comments is going to change that depressing fact.

  • Jo

    Billy what I was born into is no concern of yours and I have studied history carefully for some time as well as teaching it. If you think my views are inherited thats pretty sad and shows you don’t know me at all. You shuld visit JOBLOG more often and see my views on 1916 as well as Loyalism

  • Ciarán Irvine

    10,000 plus dead. 100,000 plus wounded. 150,000 plus forced to leave their homes

    Aye, and the 90 years prior to 1916 were just a long succession of lazy summer days where every child got a fluffy puppy and lollipops grew on trees 🙂

  • Jo

    Billy,
    Following the resolution of the land question, early 20th century Ireland WAS politically quiescent. The radical ideas of Griffith Connolly et al did not have widespread electoral support.

    Edwardian Ireland was not perfect “west Britain” and all my remarks about 1916 are conditioned by my *what if* about the arming of the IV and UVF which would probably have led to a post WW1 civil conflict, without 1916, but still one that would have led to partition.

  • GrassyNoel

    “At the risk of being accused of being anecdotal (again), I’ll give just one personal example: in the late 60s as a small boy, I was walking down a busy street in a town in Donegal, when we witnessed a priest striding towards a man and his young son on the other side of the street. Without any warning, the priest struck the man several times around the head and shoulders with a wooden cane, causing the man to fall over. The priest then proceeded to berate him for not being at mass. No-one in the street stopped or even appeared concerned”.

    At the risk of being anecdotal GlC, almost every time I’ve been abroad on holiday and almost every weekend in Dublin, and pretty much any night on TV if I want to watch one of those reality TV British cop shows, I can & have witnessed large groups of English males & females behaving in a loutish, boorish, hooliganistic and violent manner. It’s not too long ago that the rest of Europe, if not the rest of the world, did, and would dread the thought of England qualifying for any major soccer tournament. Am I to take this as representative of the English/British nation/ English/British people as a whole? Thankfully I know better.

    GrassyNoel

  • George

    Jo,
    I believe Marx actually said the only way revolution would take place in Britain was through the emmancipation Ireland.

    Lenin on the Easter Rising:

    “Whoever calls such a rebellion a putsch is either a hardened reactionary, or a doctrinaire hopelessly incapable of envisaging a social revolution as a living phenomenon.

    To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semiproletarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc.—to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution.

    So one army lines up in one place and says, We are for socialism, and another, somewhere else and says, We are for imperialism, and that will be a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view would vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a putsch.

    Whoever expects a pure social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip service to revolution without understanding what revolution is….

    “A blow delivered against the power of the English imperialist bourgeoisie by a rebellion in Ireland is a hundred times more significant politically than a blow of equal force delivered in Asia or in Africa.”

    George

  • Brian Boru

    “And how long since independence has this been the case BB? The Republic languished in poverty for nearly 70 years.”

    I accept mistakes were made in the first 40 years, and in the 80’s. In the 60’s until the mid 70’s we had 5% growth as we introduced the free trade polices of the Whitaker report. Then we returned to dreadful tax and spend policies in the 80’s. Then we realised our policy errors and introduced the liberal economic model which allowed us to overtake the UK in average incomes. The point is that we were ultimately able to overtake the UK in income-per-head and that this would not have been possible within the Union – hence vindicating 1916 without which independence would probably have been impossible. As Garrett Fitzgerald recently surmised, had we stayed in the UK under Southern Home Rule, we would not have been able to set our corporation-tax rates, and would probably grow complacent and fattened on subsidies, with any frustrations we had about the system being met with warnings that we would “lose our subsidies” if we left the UK. Yet the UK subsidies to the North have still left it worse off than the South.

    The Northern economy is run along Keynesian lines, and experience from FDR’s New Deal in the 30’s in the US and the recession years in Japan show that Keynesianism doesn’t work. The US only came out of recession because of WW2 and the stimulus is gave the arms industry there. Japan similarly only came out of recession when Koizumi was able to liberalise the economy. Equally, the Northern economy will alwaus lag behind the South until it can have the kinds of tax-incentives that typifies the South. And that the UK govt will not give because it would mean England losing out in multinational investment to the North. A UI is the only answer in the long run.

  • Brian Boru

    Billy Pilgrim9 on Mar 15, 2006 @ 11:42 AM is me Brian Boru.

    By the way, the Six Counties would also need an economy less dependent on subsidies, in order to incentivise entrepreneurship.

  • Brian Boru

    “Look in my eyes. I am not lamenting!
    I am asking a question. A rebellion in the middle of a world war was reasonably punishable by the standards of the time (indeed, arguably, our own time) by execution. How many sentences of execution were reprieved? Why did people change their views to the extent that they did, because of a relatively small number of executions in responmse to an act which caused immense damage to Dublin city centre and cost many ordinary Irish people their lives? (And if I am patronised by the catechism of a man being tied to a chair again I will scream!)”

    I think at first, people opposed the Rising. Redmond in the Woodenbridge Speech had told the pro-Home Rule Irish Volunteers (set up in response to the UVF) to join the British army and fight in WW1, and that this would make the British govt more sympathetic to Home Rule and on the partition question. So at first people felt “you’ve blown that now”. And in fact the rebel leaders were pelted with fruit as they were marched off at first. However, the British then executed the rebels and introduced martial law. Those killed by the British included innocent civilians like Francis Sheehy-Skeffington who played no role in the Rising but admitted sympathising with him. I understand a young boy, a SF politician Richard O’Carroll, and even 2 pro-British journalists were also killed in cold blood. It should be understand that while the British called the Rising the “Sinn Fein Rising”, that in reality SF had nothing to do with it. The rebels were Republicans whereas SF only became so when former rebels joined after released and changed its platform from a unilateral declaration of Home Rule to supporting an independent republic. Many hundreds, including innocent people, were shipped off to mainland UK prisons. The reaction of the British was seen as collective punishment and radicalised people. This link has more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Sheehy-Skeffington

    Also, the election of 1915 had been cancelled so arguably, the Home Rulers had lost their mandate to speak for Nationalism. That deals with the argument that the rebels “had no mandate”.

    “I know how Connolly died, thank you! Why is it that that image is constantly repeated like a mantra? How is it no-one knows the detail of how the Soloheadbeg RIC men died? Does that shooting *justify* shooting anyone in a uniform or out of it for the next 80 years?”

    I understand that Kevin Barry claimed that the reason he opened fire was that one of the RIC men was about to fire on him. And by the way I don’t think most Nationalists favouring 1916 would argue it justified anything the Provos/CIRA/RIRA/INLA/OIRA did. I certainly don’t.

  • Brian Boru

    Billy Pilgrim9 on Mar 15, 2006 @ 12:08 PM is me Brian Boru. Still not sorted out 🙁

  • Jo

    Oh, come on, who in their right mind would have a general election in the middle of a world war? Just admit that there was NO mandate for 1916. Nor was there for 1867. Or 1848. Or Emmett.

    I don’t think most nationalists would agree that 1916 justified the IRA etc either. I DO distinguish between differing shades of green-ness which I know many other Unionists cannot.

    The point I was making about the inimate detail of Connolly’s execution is that it is known in the same way as people know their 3 times table and is proof of the sanctity and mythology of 1916 which maintains a psychological grip on nationalism of all shades, but not, it appears, me, despite what I believe to be my unparalleled empathy with nationalism.

  • George

    Jo,
    I suppose you have to look at the time.

    Tens of thousands of Irish people were dying in the trenches, supposedly for the freedom of small nation Belgium.

    The hundreds of men and women of 1916 instead stood up and said they would rather die for the freedom of small nation Ireland.

    For some reason when they fought and died with “honour” for their cause, as Britain’s General Maxwell admitted, they struck a chord with the Irish people that WW1 wasn’t able to.

    Within 2 years, their cause was the nation’s cause while WW1 was no longer a fight for small nation Belgium but merely imperial slaughter.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Jo,

    Just admit that there was NO mandate for 1916

    Could you please provide details on the mandate the British had to rule Ireland in 1916? Or any year prior to 1916?

  • Brian Boru

    “Oh, come on, who in their right mind would have a general election in the middle of a world war? Just admit that there was NO mandate for 1916. Nor was there for 1867. Or 1848. Or Emmett.”

    The US had a Presidential Election 1944 actually.

  • Brian Boru

    Jo, since your into talking about mandates, where was the UVF’s mandate to import 3 million rounds of ammo and 24,000 rifles to block Home Rule? The Ulster Solemn League and Covenant they signed pledged to use force to resist the imposition of Home Rule if Parliament passed it and the government then tried to impose it.

    One thing is certain: a mandate for independence existed in 1918. The British response was to arrest 58 of the 73 newly-elected SF MPs before a shot had been fired. Now some people here may argue that 48% doesn’t constitute a mandate. But it was certainly an overall majority in the 26 counties, so the Irish state is perfectly legitimate and we have absolutely no moral obligation to apologise for setting up our state.

  • Jo

    Mandates?

    Most of Irelands representatives were mandated to achieve Home Rule. Some were mandated to maintain the Union. Mutually irreconciliable, wouldnt you say?

    British mandate to rule? Act of Union. Ho hum.
    I know it was parliamentary democracy, so much less interesting than pointless revolution..though, eh? 😉

    You cite an action of the US government as proof that people act “in their right mind”?? 😉

    Tha mandate for the UVF importing guns? They didnt have one. There was the Ulster Covenant I suppose. But it could be construed as an act of self-determination? That was what the war was about wasnt it?

    Oh and I’ll ignore the implication that you seem to believe that I would support the UVF and feel obliged to defend it. Because that would just be a sectarian assumption on your part. 🙂

  • Brian Boru

    “British mandate to rule? Act of Union. Ho hum.
    I know it was parliamentary democracy, so much less interesting than pointless revolution..though, eh? ;)”

    I wouldn’t call a Parliament from which the Catholic majority of the population were excluded “parliamentary democracy”. Also, it was heavily bribed with titles, lands and money.

    “Tha mandate for the UVF importing guns? They didnt have one. There was the Ulster Covenant I suppose. But it could be construed as an act of self-determination? That was what the war was about wasnt it? ”

    It wasn’t self-determination for the Nationalist majorities in Tyrone and Fermanagh.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Jo,

    British mandate to rule? Act of Union. Ho hum. I know it was parliamentary democracy, ..

    Pure rubbish. The Act of Union was passed by a grossly unrepresentative ‘parliament’ composed only of representatives of the Protestant landowners! No women, few Catholics, no poor or tenant-farmers had votes. If you consider that to be a mandate, then your definition of democracy is very faulty.

    At no time did Britain have any democratic mandate for its colonial rule in Ireland. That much is a simple fact. As elections became progressively less undemocratic, the proportion of the electorate supporting Home Rule or independence becaame more obviious. The closest to a democratic vote was in 1918 (where almost all adults had a vote, though I think some women were still excluded on the basis of age). At that election, and under the rules set down by Britain, Sinn Féin won overwhelmingly.

    So if you want to measure ‘rights’ by reference to mandates, then please tell me, again, what mandate did Britain ever have in Ireland before 1916?

  • Jo

    BB/Stephen:

    Interesting that an act of parliament, however flawed (and thank you for the unnecessary advice about how the AoU may or may not have been achieved) seems to you to be less legitimate than the actions of a few hundred gunmen?

    Oh, but I forgot…you agree with the gunmen that took over the GPO.

    You disagree with the gunmen who became so after they landed guns at Larne.

    I happen to disagree with the actions of both sets of gunmen.

    Your zeal to defend your sacred cows is, however, illuminating! I just think it a bit more stimulating to think about these things.

  • Brian Boru

    It should also be pointed out that another factor in the collapse of the Home Rulers in 1918 was the expansion of the franchise to include more working-class people. It further calls into question how representative they were with Nationalists in the early 20th century.

  • Brian Boru

    “Interesting that an act of parliament, however flawed (and thank you for the unnecessary advice about how the AoU may or may not have been achieved) seems to you to be less legitimate than the actions of a few hundred gunmen?”

    It should also be remembered that the constituencies of the Irish Parliament (0% Catholic) had not been changed since the 1600’s, and that 2/3rds of the constituencies consisted of only a couple of hundred people. Which further undermines its legitimacy as the voice of the people (even the Protestant people of the day) in 1799. In truth, given this, the 1916 rebels arguably represented more people than the pro-Unionists in the Dublin Parliament of 1799, which adds to the former’s legitimacy.

    “Oh, but I forgot…you agree with the gunmen that took over the GPO.

    You disagree with the gunmen who became so after they landed guns at Larne.

    I happen to disagree with the actions of both sets of gunmen.”

    To be fair, Nationalists had tried constitutional methods but being forced to wait 50 years for Home Rule and then being offered it in a greatly weakened and partitioned form was straining patience to breaking point. Constitutional methods had reached the limits of their usefulness.

  • Jo

    “It should also be pointed out that another factor in the collapse of the Home Rulers in 1918 was the expansion of the franchise to include more working-class people.”

    …which also cemented the cross-class alliance of Unionism. So in 1918 we see the overdue extension of the vote to workers, who then vote separately in their perceived economic interests for radically different things.

    “The people have spoken – the bastards”! 🙂

  • Stephen Copeland

    Jo,

    Interesting that an act of parliament, however flawed … seems to you to be less legitimate than the actions of a few hundred gunmen?

    Since the parliament was an undemocratic imposition on a conquered country, I personally do not think that its ‘acts’ had any moral or democratic legitimacy. The mere fact of calling it a ‘parliament’ does not necessarily give it legitimacy. Legitimacy, like trust, is earned. It is not an inate state of being, or some kind of objective quality. The parliament in question, and the British rule that it supported (bar Grattan’s little attempt at UDI) lacked legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the Irish people, as evidenced at every opportunity as democracy was extended. That parliament never even gained postumous legitimacy, whereas the 1916 rebellion did.

    Whatever one may think of the men and women who participated in the 1916 rebellion, it should not blind us to the very simple fact that they rebelled against a system, and a colonial rule, that had no mandate whatsoever to be in the country.

  • Jo

    Oh well at least we disagree amicably. 🙂

    Amazing as it may seem, I actually agree about Fermanagh and Tyrone (above).

    I have noticed other Unionists tend to fall silent when pushed on that one. As with the treasonable activity that was involved in the UVF gun-running – for treason it most certainly was.

  • Dk

    “The US had a Presidential Election 1944 actually”

    And in 1864 in the middle of their own Civil War (or was it democratic fight for independence crushed by the Yankee imperialists?).

    The difference is that the Americans HAVE to have an election every 4 years on a certain date as it is in their rules. The British election rules are different – more flexible, so elections in wars can be avoided.

    Sounds to me like the 1916 rising was more about trying to force a point already conceded – and may have had the ulterior motive of giving the rebels great PR for the forthcoming Irish elections.

  • Dk

    Forgot to sign above post 4.48pm. DK

  • Nathan

    Gerry,

    “Your implicit suggestion that the Irish people were able to break the shackles of British rule, but were powerless against the jackboot of the clergy appears rather bizarre.”

    I don’t believe for a nanosecond that Irish people were that powerless, when it came to the clerics. Indeed, on occasion, Irish people and Irish political parties in particular, defied the clerics whenever it suited e.g. when the Catholic Church asked Fianna Fail to support General Franco during the Spanish Civil War, the response was that the RC Church should mind their own business. Similarly, when the nuncio demanded that Roman Catholicism be treated as the established religion in the 1937 Constitution, they were blatantly defied. DeValera in particular, stood by his Presbyterian colleague, Dr Hamilton-Irwin, rather than pandering to fundamentalist clerics. As a result, the 1937 Constitution went as far as giving constitutional recognition to the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Church of Ireland and Judiasm.

    So you see there were some Irish people who did take a public stand against the Catholic Church, and had to suffer the consequences as a result. DeValera in particular, although a despicable Free Stater in other respects, at least had the courage to stand up to the Catholic Church where it was necessary to do so. As a result, he and his mate, Dr Hamilton-Irwin, were subject to criticism by Dr Alfred O’Rahilly, the self-appointed guardian of the Catholic Right, in a document entitled “Thoughts on the Constitution”, for using their powers in such a way, as to undermine the prevailing status of the RC Church as the “one true faith”.

  • Nathan

    4.55 post was by Nathan

  • Brian Boru

    “And in 1864 in the middle of their own Civil War (or was it democratic fight for independence crushed by the Yankee imperialists?).

    The difference is that the Americans HAVE to have an election every 4 years on a certain date as it is in their rules. The British election rules are different – more flexible, so elections in wars can be avoided.”

    More flexible? More like saying that as long as a government is at war, it can stay in power as long as it likes. Next stop – one party state and dictatorship. If a war is unpopular, people should have the right to make their views known in any war aswell. The argument against elections in a war would have more validity if the country was occupied at the time. Which the UK wasn’t. Imagine applying your logic to the Iraq War. Maybe Tony should not have called an election in 2005. Come to think of it, maybe he should keep troops in Iraq for the rest of his life so then he’ll never have to call an election again! And that is how democracy dies…

    “Sounds to me like the 1916 rising was more about trying to force a point already conceded – and may have had the ulterior motive of giving the rebels great PR for the forthcoming Irish elections.”

    The suspension of the 1914 Home Rule Act, as well as the Exclusion of Northern Ireland Amendment to it pushed through it in the House of Lords, was an emasculation of nationalist demands since the 1870’s. We were not being offered all-Ireland Home Rule. We were being offered Home Rule over an area yet to be defined as the term “Ulster” was not defined for the purpose of the said amendment. The RIC, trade, coinage was to remain under Westminster control. A Dublin parliament would have had little practical control over people’s lives. That is substantially less than offered in 1886 and 1893.

    1916 was a symptom of an understandible loss of patience. As General Maxwell later acknowledged, the leniency shown to the UVF when it imported arms compared to the Howth Gunrunning by the Irish Volunteers was a major factor behind 1916. The British military had shown themselves to be onesided and could not be relied on to deliver whatever Britain promised. I’m glad the South no longer has to beg for crumbs from the British table – as was literally the case in 1846-51. English MPs do not understand Ireland’s needs and care less when they do not need one Irish vote to govern the UK. NI MP’s impotence at Westminster in terms of making London address issues like hospital closures being a case in point. Local is better.

    I think the motives of the 1916 leaders were honorable, especially considering they gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.

  • Nathan

    Brian Boru raises some important points which I wholeheartedly agree with.

    For one, he is correct in saying that the Dublin Parliament that preceded the Act of Union was illegimate. Catholics and Dissenters were excluded from political life, so the Nation that this quisling Parliament represented, was nothing short of a Protestant Nation for the Protestant people alone.

    For those who question the legitimacy of the 1916 Rising, I say look closer to home. The British Isles was a sexist and disturbingly undemocratic political unit. The Imperial Palace of Westminster in particular, was elected by the male household votes alone. Women and those who lived in the slums of Dublin for instance, were deliberately excluded. The 1916 Proclamation at least sought to remedy this situation, as it believed in universal suffrage for Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.

  • Nathan

    5.28 was again, by me NAthan

  • Southern Observer

    And in 1864 in the middle of the civil war.