Moveable feasts

Unlike most historical commemorations republicans remember the 1916 Easter Rising not on the actual date it began, 24th April, but follow the moveable feast of a Christian Easter. I have never really understood why a decision of the First Council of Nicaea on the full moon after the spring equinox should dictate when republicans remember their dead.

I assume it may be the ease of an already observed holiday, some kind of undeclared Christian sensibility, an attempt to marry the death and rebirth elements of the Christian feast with similar republican hopes – maybe a mixture of them all and more.

It certainly doesn’t have any clear secular explanation.

Other elements of the moveable feast attitude of some republicans leapt out to me this year. As many remembered the sacrifice of others and some recognised those involved in/or imprisoned due to revolutionary struggle, republican prisoners in Magheraberry were engaged in a protest over their detention conditions.

Des Dalton of RSF said:

“This campaign to criminalise the Republican prisoners by the British State has even extended to the families of the prisoners. In recent weeks visitors have been forced to endure humiliating searches in order to visit relatives and friends while the drug dogs have been used as a pretext to stop visits – this despite the fact that no drugs have ever been found on either a Republican prisoner or their visitors.

“Since 1917 22 Irish Republican have died on hunger strike to uphold the right of Republican prisoners to political status. In 1998 this hard fought for right was signed away under the terms of the Stormont Agreement. However the present generation of Republican prisoners in Maghaberry by their resolute action have given a clear signal that ‘England will not brand Ireland’s fight 800 years of crime’.”

Breandán Mac Cionnaith of éirígí called for political status:

“This treatment has been centred on the denial of political status and the attempt to portray those who are detained as a result of the British occupation as common criminals.

“Regardless of one’s political opinions, the reality is that these prisoners would not be in jail were it not for the ongoing British presence in Ireland – they are clearly political prisoners and they should be treated as such.”

And in the tradition of Easter’s moveable feast Caral Ni Chuilin of SF, who label these prisoners ‘traitors’, has attempted support:

“Regardless of why anyone is in prison they are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity.”

  • aquifer

    Very few want a revolution, of course revolutionaries struggle and end up resorting to crimes against society.

    And there are so many to chose from. Islamic ones, marxist ones, ethnic ones, feminist ones, its so hard to know who to capitulate to.

  • Michaelhenry

    i noticed that 2 of these prisoners are i.n.l.a members,strange that the so called hardliners in the real and continunity suppurt people from a group that is on ceasfire and has fully decommissond.

  • Mark McGregor


    It must be really hard to put so much effort into masking your writing style with this deliberate gibberish form.

  • Michaelhenry

    we are not in english class mark.

  • Mark McGregor

    And I’ve just realised who you are and how sad that is, again. Goodnight…

  • Michaelhenry


  • Alias

    Both spokespersons are obfuscating very different categories of political acts, and failing to differentiate between legitimate political acts with illegitimate political acts. It is a misnomer to claim that all political acts are legitimate and that political acts cannot be criminal acts.

    A nationalist is anyone who supports a nation’s right to a nation-state. In that regard, neither the Shinners nor the Stoops are nationalists since both of these political parties have formally renounced their nation’s right to a nation-state.

    However, militant groups in Northern Ireland are republicans or nationalists either, even though they do support their nation’s right to a nation-state. Why? It’s very simple: the right to self-determination is always a collective right and never an individual right. You cannot be a nationalist if you do not accept the right of your nation to determine its own affairs. The nation, of course, is the collective.

    Because they believe that the right to self-determination is an individual right and that individuals have the right to overrule the collective, those militant groups are not – and never were – nationalists.

    That isn’t some obscure point of ideology but the fundamental dynamics that underpin the orderly functioning of a state. There is only one right to self-determination per nation, and that is exercised via that sovereign nation’s government. If there was a multiplicity of these rights within a state then the state could not function as a national collective since the individual ‘rights’ to self-determination would inevitably conflict with each other and all would be equally valid, thereby cancelling each other out. Ergo, you could have one group using self-determination to declare war on China on Saturday and another group declaring an end to the war with China on the following Monday, and both of them – or all 5 million of them – taking their respective claims to the Supreme Court…

    Incidentally, the ignorance of even the most basic understanding of the principles involved is why the other murder gangs and their supporters were so easily led to renounce their former right to national self-determination and to accept the legitimacy of British sovereignty.

    These folks are really just lunatics.

  • Alias

    “…differentiate between legitimate political acts [b]and[/b] illegitimate political acts.”

    “However, [b]the[/b] militant groups in Northern Ireland are [b]not[/b] republicans or nationalists either…”

    (I think that’s all the typos)

  • Mark McGregor


    Indeed. Some like Caral want to give some support to those ‘criminalised’ by both the British state and her party though.

    The Moveable feast.

  • joeCanuck

    Simples. It had to be memorialized to satisfy the Irish public. At that time, however, the Irish Government needed the Goodwill of the UK, so it would have been foolish, to say the least, to make 24 April a public holiday. So, celebrate it on a day that the public already has off.

  • Alias

    Mark, it is incomprehensible why so many of them decide to destroy their own lives and to destroy the lives of others when absolutely nothing will be achieved by such acts. If they have a case to make then let them follow éirígí’s example and make it through peaceful means that others can support in good conscience rather than though means that merely serve the interests of the British state – who probably still sponsor these gangs so that the case will not be heard.

    They can’t obtain that which has already been obtained. The Irish nation has already obtained the right to self-determination, so they were not acting in support of that right but in direct violation of it.

    The majority of that Irish nation opposed violence, outlawing it via its government – a de jure act of national self-determination. If they fall under the banner of the Irish nation, then they are bound to abide by its will as a collective, seeking only as individuals to change that will by persuasion and never by force.

    As McIntyre said, all that will happen is that they will end up further consolidating British rule just like the Provos.

  • redhugh78

    Mark Mc Gregor-Scorned by the shinners, champion of the dissidents.
    If Caral /SF had said nothing on the prisoner issue I have no doubt Mark would be blogging as to why no SF rep had anything to say.

    Damned if you do…..

  • aquifer

    A nation presupposes enough shared cultural and often religious background to unify the people around one political construct.

    Alternatively a set of shared values can be constructed and forcibly developed, as in the former British Empire, Saddams Iraq or Hitlers Germany.

    Especially now that all our local states have engaged in downsizing to be able to provide their citizens with material goods in a globalised economy, the model of a nineteenth century style cultural nation state does not offer us anything in terms of coping with modern life.

    We have agreed political arrangements for sharing our local economic and physical space, and our cultures, and that suits most people fine.

    Old style nationalism has little to offer us, and we should allow the current political arrangements, which are likely to lead to the effective dissolution of the border, to develop.

    Dead political tails should not be wagging live political dogs.

  • As I’ve commented elsewhere, the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (for the most bathetic, most leaden, more off-putting opening sentence of a novel) should have an equivalent for press statements.

    I would therefore nominate:

    This campaign to criminalise the Republican prisoners by the British State has even extended to the families of the prisoners.

    Whatever the merit of the whinge complaint, it is instantly lost in its predicable rhetoric. One can guarantee that “force” and “humiliation” and “the 800 years of Saxon oppression” cannot be far behind”. Ah, bless!

    None of that was my first thought on encountering this thread. No: I still had in mind a far-more intriguing one on

    that P[adraig] P[earse] wanted a Bavarian Monarch to take over as the head of state in Ireland.

    This, it seems derives from an idle discussion in an odd moment in the GPO, Easter 1916, noted by Desmond Fitzgerald (distinguished Da of the omniscient Garret), and now rehearsed on an RTÉ chat-show.

    I found the notion that a Hohenzollern also stalked the Post Office so bizarre that I’m still not entirely convinced it’s not a delayed April Fool.

    Can anyone set me right on this?


    Crime is crime is crime!

  • Kathleen

    Mark you really are a nuisance. Do try and keep my name OUT of your posts when posting. What in God’s name am I doing in your head at after eleven at night?

    Mick tells me you are wrong to be speculating about who is who anyway.

    Let me put it straight for you. Next time I’m going to the cops – end off. I’ve been in touch with them already. Keep my name OUT of your posting and keep me out of your head. Get some therapy it may help.

  • Kathleen

    ps do check the ip’s incase of any doubt.

  • Greenflag

    malcomb redfelllow,

    ‘ I found the notion that a Hohenzollern also stalked the Post Office so bizarre that I’m still not entirely convinced it’s not a delayed April Fool.’

    Arthur Griffith the founder of SF at one time favoured a dual monarchy relationship along the lines of the Austro Hungarian Empire . His premature death probably put an end to that consideration .

    As we know from history the eventual disintegration of the Austro Hungarian Empire and it’s spin off into myriad small nations was not a harbinger of future european peace . It’s only in recent years that the prospect of ‘re amalgamation via the EU mechanism has brought relative political peace to the ‘balkans .

    The Anglo Irish melee 1890- 1922 and 1969- 1998 left a lot more people standing than the ‘balkan wars’ of the past century .

  • joeCanuck

    Mark has been displaying some odd behaviours this past while, paranoia, claiming wild conspiracy theories etc. When proven wrong he will initially resort to man playing before disengaging. I reckon he owes me at least two apologies but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Brian MacAodh

    There were some weird ideas floated out pre-Rising. But Pearse read out a Proclamation of the Repulic….no kings allowed.

  • Alias

    “Old style nationalism has little to offer us, and we should allow the current political arrangements, which are likely to lead to the effective dissolution of the border, to develop.”

    That is nothing more than a demand that the Irish nation should surrender its right to national self-determination by converting itself into a non-sovereign nation and giving up its claim to its sovereign territory. That has been made for 800 years by various means, of which the GFA is just the latest wheeze.

    Oddly, enough British nationalists don’t make similar demands about the sovereign territory, which would indicate that “old style nationalism” suits them just fine. And of course it does, since the assertion of Irish national rights makes a challenge to sovereign British territory – hence the succession of wheezes.

    At any rate, if the British and Irish nations in Northern Ireland actually manage to make a success of their shared civic future within a heavily subsidised British state, then the missionaries can try proffering their bizarre arrangement as a template for Nirvana. But until then the rest of the world will just look on in wry bemusement…

  • Coll Ciotach

    Bavaria? Surely that is Wittelsbach country – and not hohenzollern.

    Never mind – Perhaps if we wait it may be Luxembourg and she is easier on the eye than the duke

  • aquifer

    “Irish nation should surrender its right to national self-determination”

    Which nation? and what right? and whose language is this?

    Would that be the the ‘right’ introduced into the old league of nations by the US who extinguished so many native american nations?

    people in Ireland are sovereign, it is just that they don’t chose to murder each other to subsist in their own cultural and religious comfort zone.

    They have moved on, together, in Ireland.

    What planet are you on?