Morrison: Easter inheritance belongs to all…

Danny Morrison with a John Mitchel-esque view of the unification of the island. He argues that its commemoration triggers certain imperatives to examine the effects of British rule in Ireland – and that open ended exploration of such themes cannot harm the Irish Republican project. Interestingly, he strikes a pragmatic note towards the end: “within my lifetime a united Ireland is unlikely to be configured as a unitary state, but united it will become”.By Danny Morrison

By any objective standards there was more cause for an armed struggle in the North post-1969 than there was for the 1916 Rising.

For if 1916 was about the denial of freedom and British misrule in Ireland, the armed struggle in the North was about the denial of the same freedom and a more egregious form of British misrule in the form of partition with its ‘Protestant parliament for a Protestant people’.

In Ireland’s major cities in the early part of the twentieth century there was extreme poverty and high unemployment. There had been two deaths in baton charges during the Dublin lock-out in 1913, which preceded and helped define the radical nature of the Proclamation. There had been three deaths at the hands of the British army after the Irish Volunteers’ Howth gun-running incident in July 1914. By 1916 it was obvious to the prescient that Home Rule – as proposed in the suspended statute – had been thwarted by the Unionist/Conservative threat of violence, but that a dramatic, violent assertion of Irish independence might inspire and embolden the general population (or, at a minimum, strengthen Ireland’s demands in post-war negotiations).

But compare the conditions in 1916 to the conditions which nationalists suffered: fifty years of humiliation; the physical persecution of any outward expression of their identity; discrimination in housing, employment and investment; its minority position entrenched; a people denied access to government or power to change government; deaths at the hands of the RUC, B-Specials, loyalists and the British army long before the IRA re-organised and launched its armed struggle.

To justify or to sympathise or, at the minimum, to understand, 1916, is to justify, sympathise or understand the IRA’s armed struggle in the North. It is inescapable, regardless of what casuistry is employed to argue otherwise.

The founders of Fianna Fail trace their lineage back to those who resisted and fought against the Treaty in the civil war, to those who waged guerrilla war for independence, to those who occupied the GPO and declared a Republic.

Let’s put it in starker terms.

Say Cumainn na nGaedheal, which was formed in 1923 from the pro-Treaty element of Sinn Fein and which took power as Free Staters, had remained in power for fifty years with the support of the British government. That during those years it financially, economically and politically discriminated against and gerrymandered those areas which supported Fianna Fail. That the police force, comprised only of its supporters, oppressed Fianna Fail supporters, batoned them off the streets, killed some of them when they demanded their rights and burnt thousands of them out of their homes, before killing more of them at barricades or at street protests. Wouldn’t Fianna Fail and its grassroots have a sympathetic view of a physical-force struggle against single-party rule, and the British army coming in to defend that rule? Of course, they would.

And so, republicans welcome the decision by the Dublin government and establishment to celebrate and commemorate the Rising.

Yeats worried: “Did that play of mine send out /Certain men the English shot?”

Dublin worries, “Does this commemoration of ours/Justify the men who shot the English?”

The answer is, yes, it does. But no one, not the IRA, not Sinn Fein, not Fianna Fail or any party or organisation owns the Rising or its legacy.

Celebrating it, however, triggers certain imperatives, primarily an examination of the malignity of British rule in Ireland, the divisions it caused between brothers and sisters, families, communities, political parties. It should encourage a revision of what really happened to the North and an analysis of the forces at play. It can only lead to conclusions which will not harm but explain the Republican Movement, its motivation, its history, and how it survived and thrived.

It is a debate which frightens the major political parties in the twenty-six counties, in the same way as they fear the truth about collusion emerging which would trigger other imperatives – that is, dealing with the reality of British government involvement in bombings and assassinations and probable infiltration of the state itself.

Such discomfiting truths would leave the populace more open to understanding and sympathising with republicans on the issue of the North. Such truths could impact on contemporary politics to the advantage of Sinn Fein. And so such truths must be avoided, must be minimised, hidden, denied or distorted.

Ninety years after the Easter Rising Britain is the ally!

My first consciousness of Easter was always chocolate eggs. That culture of boiling a hen’s egg in tea, patiently painting it and then rolling it down Bearnagh Drive never caught on in 1950s Andersonstown!

Soon I was to discover the politics of Easter. I remember the Falls decked with bunting in 1966 for the fiftieth anniversary of the Rising.

When I first went to the Felons Club at the age of 14 or 15 and began learning something about my country the Rising was the big date in Irish history. I also learnt about Tom Williams and his comrades in Belfast, and Brendan Behan in Dublin, being arrested on Easter Sunday after republican commemorations and about republicans having to run a gauntlet of RUC men when they went to march to the republican plot in Milltown.

After 1969 I read up on the period and devoured Tim Pat Coogan’s and Bowyer Bell’s respective histories of the IRA.

I took part in republican Easter parades, stood proudly in the Cages of Long Kesh, in the yards of the Crum and the Blocks, during those poignant minute silences when we remembered our fallen comrades. I spoke at Easter commemorations the length and breadth of Ireland and got a feel of how widespread and visceral was the love for and devotion to the patriots of 1916.

The ‘defence’ of the Republic declared from the steps of the GPO, or the re-establishment of that Republic, and the quest for a united Ireland all became synonymous, was taken as a given as the ultimate solution to Ireland’s English problem.

There is a maxim by a famous German Field Marshal that, ‘No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.’ Well, that political plan of reunification has survived contact with ‘the enemy’s’ propaganda, with the arguments of unionism and Free Statism.

Were the dream pursued just for the sake of sentimentality it would be madness and pointless. But a united Ireland would make social and economic sense. The successes of the Celtic Tiger have reduced unionists to the argument of opposing it solely on political/cultural grounds. Within my lifetime a united Ireland is unlikely to be configured as a unitary state, but united it will become and it will be a better place than a land disfigured by British rule.

Published in today’s issue of Daily Ireland.

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  • Busty Brenda

    ‘I spoke at Easter parades the length and breath of Ireland and got a feel of how wide spread and visceral was the love for and devotion to the patriots of 1916’

    LOL. Danny if that is the case why do you support a party that accepted and legitimised partition?

    One gets the feel of danny trying to rally the troops. There was a time when his effort would not have been necessary.

  • Pete Baker

    Danny could do with a good editor Mick..

    Suffice to say his main argument in the article can be distilled to one line –

    “To justify or to sympathise or, at the minimum, to understand, 1916, is to justify, sympathise or understand the IRA’s armed struggle in the North.”

    But it is an interesting finishing flourish –

    “Within my lifetime a united Ireland is unlikely to be configured as a unitary state, but united it will become and it will be a better place than a land disfigured by British rule.”

    Ireland won’t be united but it will be united?

  • J Kelly

    I suppose this is related at the auction at in Dublin two Ogra Sinn Fein members were arrested protesting at the sale claiming that the should be retained by the nation.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/0412/anthem.html

  • ever smaller circles

    dannies continued insistence of charcaterising Irelands religious / ethnic conflict simply in terms of “shoot(ing)the English” reflects the cultural suffocation (ism) and thugish oppression of the other culture which dominates republican practik, for irish unity to be egaliterian and plural (as the rhetoric states) it must have consent and free expression (of succession and dessent) not to mention genuine tolerance (thats to say , universal, instead of exclusive as danny and the ‘only prods are secterian’ brigade would have it). The continued insistance of imposition rather than dialouge is a reflection of how little the republican heart has changed.
    he’s right also that the only difference between the provo’s and the rebels is the sanitisation effect of the passage of time. its up to you i suppose, if you want the prize, you should’nt despise those that do the work. that is, if you value the prize…… or chalice, if you’ll forgive a little poetics
    “as ye sow so shall ye reep”

  • Bemused

    Ogra Sinn Feinn and their fellow travellers in RSF/CIRA/RIRA etc. should be rounded up and packed off to ‘the ‘joy’ forthwith. Let’s hope the Guards gave them all a good pasting today after their ‘protest’. Really, as a Republican these scum make my blood boil.

  • lib2016

    Well done, Danny. It needs to be said and said often. Republicans didn’t choose to fight, the fight was brought to them!

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    I see Danny’s trying again.. in edited form.. over at the Guardian’s Comment is Free [never mind the facts] blog

  • mickhall

    Until Mr Morrison gets all me me as he far to often does, I found it a good piece, I wonder what those from the south think about this article?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    All the usual MOPERY on display, as always conveniently ignoring the facts that the Protestant population in the glorious republic plummeted from 10% to 2% within 80 years while the Roman Catholic population in the downtrodden north increased from 33% to 46% in the same timeframe.
    As always it was Brit collusion that led to the awesomely small death toll amongst republicans post ’69 whilst the spotless boys of the RA targeted their victims with precision — never once considering no-warning bomb attacks on civilian targets, blowing up children or heroically shooting people in the back and running away.
    Danny’s rhetoric might wash with the gullible in Irish-America, but for those of us who lived through the sordid little conflict, there was no justification on either side for one single murder. Give it a rest Danny — you’ll get your UI when you get 50 + 1 and not a minute before.

  • circles

    BBrenda said “One gets the feel of danny trying to rally the troops. There was a time when his effort would not have been necessary.” – I assume then that you’ve never been to an Easter Commemoration Brenda as this is pretty standard fair for an easter oration. The nobility of the cause, the righteousness of the struggle and the perfidy of Albion are standard themes. This one actually seems more measured and I would say not too far of the mark.

    I would disagree with Pete Baker though – the central theme of this for me is in the quote “But no one, not the IRA, not Sinn Fein, not Fianna Fail or any party or organisation owns the Rising or its legacy” as well as a legitimate call for a re-examination of the whole 1916 – 2006 period.
    I’ve no idea what you just read GLC – do youu have a link to that article you just commented on?

  • The Devil

    Mick,
    Do you owe this guy money…..
    Why do we have to suffer this drudge?
    Every article he writes is posted on Slugger.. Why?

  • “All the usual MOPERY on display” and I thought the mopery in NI was to be paid out of existance with STG 30 mio hand-over to loyalist areas. However I think you are using the term in a dismissive manner to belittle the justifible grieveances mentioned by DM

    ” the facts that the Protestant population in the glorious republic plummeted from 10% to 2%” brought about thro removing prefertial government business ties and tax advantages. Therefore the arsehole-tocracy couldn’t compete when asked to play on a level field. “It’s just not cricket when the natives get uppitty”

    “..considering no-warning bomb attacks on civilian targets, blowing up children or heroically shooting people in the back and running away.” I don’t think anyone on the RM side is claiming ‘holier than thou status’ but ascerting that all are to blame for the 30 odd year of bloodshed.

    “… gullible in Irish-America, but for those of us who lived through the sordid little conflict..” I’ve never heard of anyone of prominance in IA organiztions who wasn’t born or raised in Irel or second generation with v strong conections to Irel. Connections a lot stronger than any direct rule minister from London.

    “Give it a rest Danny—you’ll get your UI when you get 50 + 1 and not a minute before.” noce to see that you commit to all or nothing thinking – visionary, you’re not.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    “…Within my lifetime a united Ireland is unlikely….

    Is Danny Morrison sick or dieing? He is in his 50’s and people live until 100 today and that statement he feels unification won’t even happen if 50 years…maybe he isn’t well. He has closed his forum on the DannyMorrison board? Just wondering what is going on….does anyone know?

  • GAK

    The only people who have really come out on top is Paisley and all his sick cronies,all without spending one day in The Kesh!

  • Keith M

    “Is Danny Morrison sick or dieing? He is in his 50’s and people live until 100 today and that statement he feels unification won’t even happen if 50 years…maybe he isn’t well.”

    Or a conversion to reality perchance?

  • Cahal

    Most importantly of all, Danny says

    “the steps of the GPO”

    Does the GPO have steps? I’ve never noticed them.

  • ct

    Morrision is interesting because of what he is not what he says. Why analyse a “commentator” who himself cannot analyse? His final statement amounts to little more than the long war mentality.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”However I think you are using the term in a dismissive manner to belittle the justifible grieveances mentioned by DM”

    Spot-on Niall — you don’t miss much do you? The greivances mentioned, justifiable or not, were all settled in the early 70s — the RM movement decided to continue their ‘armed struggle’ for nothing short of a UI. Several thousand deaths later, they decided that maybe the consent principle was the best one after all. Let’s call it slow learning.

    “It’s just not cricket when the natives get uppitty”

    You’re wasted on this board Niall — you should be off supporting the armed struggle of the native Americans and the Aboriginal peoples.

  • TL

    I’m guility…I like to read Danny’s stuff…I don’t know why so don’t ask. This one, however, was, really sad.

  • John

    Now that the terrorists have been defeated and forced to surrender by the citizens of NI, and the GFA has given the nationalists the opportunity to make NI work and to therefore strengthen its position within the UK, the citizens of NI can look forward to a brighter future than the dark past.

  • ingram

    Hi,

    As with all DM sermons and this one is no different hidden beneath is subliminal message from Mr P O`Neil. Quote” Within my life time a united Ireland is unlikely to be configured as a unitary state.Unquote

    This message decoded is; Feck we have been rumbled and we had better prepare the loyal sheep for the bad news.

    Should be interesting what the Daily rag say about this interesting viewpoint.

    Marty

  • KathyC

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    I find the comment by Danny, “Were the dream (for a united Ireland) pursued just for the sake of sentimentality it would be pointless,” rather insulting to the memory of the hunger strikers. Add that to, “United Ireland would make social and economic sense.” I didn’t know Bobby Sands personally or any hungerstriker…yet I do know they did not die because they wanted the economics of a united Ireland…they died because of a DREAM…a Dream where all children would be happy and laugh and have a future and this Dream of a united Ireland is what kept Bobby Sands warm in a cold cell of deprivation. This dream is what comforted the hunger strikers and for Danny Morrison to say the dream is pointless then state unification makes sense because of money….I spit on Danny Morrison.

  • lib2016

    KathyC,

    My dream is that all our children can have happy productive lives together. Love on the dole doesn’t do it for me. Sorry.

  • mickhall

    lib2016

    I understand what your saying, but Kathy C has the measure of Bobby Sands and I might add DM, whom ‘martin ingram’ sums up these days perfectly. What a waste of writing talent, to end up the penman for a political party. Perhaps DM is paying some sort of penitence?

    People like Bobby Sands do not deal in fine detail, that is left to lesser mortals. The same could be said of Gandhi or Martin Luther King or even Nelson Mandela.

    The stuff of martyrs are not made from the likes Dev, Cosgrave, O’Higgins, or Mary Lou and Adams. [in a republican context]

  • ct

    mickhall: At least you did not put Gandhi, Martin Luther King or “even” Nelson Mandela in the same sentence as Bobby Sands. Same paragraph is appalling enough.

  • Busty Brenda

    Kathy C,

    ‘I spit on DM’

    LOL

    Me too.LOL

  • mickhall

    CT,

    I am quite happy to place Bobby Sands in the same company as Mandela, Gandhi and King, although by so doing I am not expressing support for the politics of these individuals one way or another, merely pointing out they were all martyrs to there cause.

    If you wish to know my opinion of Bobby Sands, I believe in his final months of life, he was a magnificent example of a human being at their best, a man who due to his circumstances developed an iron will, who laid down his life for his friends, comrades and yes his wider community.

    I just find it sad that you are unable to recognize in your political opponents human characteristics like courage dedication and loyalty which are universally admired.. very sad indeed.

  • circles

    One thing that I really have difficulty with are people who claim “if Bobby Sands were alive today he’d surely think …..” and then proceed to roll out their own point of view.
    To try and transpose the thoughts and opinions of someone who died 25 years ago to today – completely ignoring what has happened in between – is blatant abuse of that person. Can we not just honour their memory instead of trying to score goals with it? The reality today is not the reality of the blanket men in 1981.

  • mickhall

    circles,

    Good point, I felt the same discomfort when certain leaders of the SF tried to reclaim Michael Collin’s a few years back.

    happy easter.

  • circles

    Yeah its a complete nonsense, bordering on the ridiculous in a “What would Elvis make of EMINIEM?” kind of way.

    Although after posting I did actually think abut it myself and wondered why would Bobby Sands have become any different than the rest of the Belfast leadership (Adams, Kelly, Murray, Storey etc.) – couldn’t find a reason why he would (and by that I am not trying to say they are right or wrong, but simply stating that they are a cohort who have a very high degree of agreement between them).