1916 Centenary – Cherishing All the Children Equally?

Yesterday we saw the government reveal more detailed plans regarding the official commemoration of the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Plans to mark this key event in the history of the state include a major exhibition of 1916 archival material at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks and series of commemorative events, including a parade from Dublin Castle to Parnell Square on Easter Sunday 2016 and a special state reception for the 1916 relatives.

In order to engage children and young people, ‘Proclamation Day’, which will be held in all schools on 15 March 2016 and a tricolour and a copy of the Proclamation will be delivered to every school in the country.

A number of new public projects will also be put in place at locations such as the GPO, Kilmainham Gaol and the Military Archives and other sites.

One of the most interesting events potentially is what is being billed as “a multi-location public event, to be broadcast on television on Easter Monday 2016, telling the story of Ireland through music, dance, drama and song.” Having witnessed a similar series of events in Guernica to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the city, such a multi-site series of events has a huge potential to engage a wide range of participants as well as spectators and viewers. It could indeed be the pièce de résistance of the entire series of commemorative events, precisely because it has the capacity to engage so many people in creative and thoughtful ways.

All in all, if it’s done right, it’s a good programme of events.

And now for the but…

The announcement in tandem with the programme of events that the Government is to purchase the site at 16 Moore Street is the one that will have the longest term impact after the pomp and pageantry of the Centenary events. It is the space and place where the story of the Easter Rising can be told from so many perspectives. It has to be done with the support and consultation of the 1916 Relatives. Remember the fiasco that renowned historian Diarmuid Ferriter described as “embarrassing unhistorical sh*t” last November? No buy-in from relatives equals no public support and no credible long-term legacy. The Centenary of the Easter Rising, probably the key event in the foundation of the state, can’t be let slide into becoming “The Gathering” uimhir a dó.

The sound bite of the day was the one that made me think how ridiculous would it sound if David Cameron pledged to re-write the Magna Carta or Barack Obama said that the USA would be drafting a new Bill of Rights. Thankfully since his initial ill-judged comments on the “drafting of a new Proclamation” the Taoiseach Enda Kenny has sought to clarify by saying that this is a project to engage young people on drafting a new proclamation based on the original. Based on the ideals of the original, based on the circumstances of today? With all these things the devil will be in the detail.

I had a chat about it, though, with my two young people last night over a copy and they were of the view that enacting what’s in the original Proclamation might be a better approach. Concrete steps that cherish all the children of the Nation equally (same-sex marriage, voting rights for all citizens were mentioned). What about resolving to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation, they said? “The Troika insisting on water charges is hardly the ‘unfettered control of Irish destinies'” says the daughter. She’s not wrong either.

The key issue though is how the government deals with the vexing issue of the north during the Centenary events. There’s a view that’s gone mainly unchallenged that those of us who live in the six counties of Northern Ireland are part of the Great Irish Diaspora – that generic catch-all classification of Irish citizens living outside the 26 counties of the Republic. We’re not.

If you live in Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Armagh or Down you’re as likely to shop in Letterkenny, Monaghan, Sligo or Dundalk as in any other big town close by. You’ll be up and down to Dublin for work meetings, the weekend, the match (whether it be football, hurling or rugby) as if you lived in Tralee or Cork or Galway. You’re as likely to watch Ryan Tubridy as Johnathan Ross on a Friday night.

The Easter Rising of 1916 took place before partition and so its commemoration, perhaps more so than most events of this decade of centenaries, belongs to the whole island. We were all impacted. My grandmother and her sisters at UCD where Thomas McDonagh was their professor. My father’s parents who saw 5 neighbours’ sons murdered in cold blood in the aftermath.

Irish citizens in the north occupy an uneasy space for Ireland’s politicians and the 1916 Centenary is an opportunity to change that. Why not extend the offer of sending a national flag and a copy of the Proclamation to all schools in the north who wish to receive it? Why not also include those schools in “Proclamation Day” on the 15th March 2016?

Use the pledges of Pearse, Connolly et al to value all parts of the nation by developing meaningful mechanisms for northern representation in the Oireachtas. (Clue – the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement isn’t it.)

Most importantly, those “differences carefully fostered by an alien government which have divided a minority from a majority in the past” have been perpetuated in the sense that Irish citizens who live in the north, who are in a minority on the island, are regarded in many instances as somehow less Irish than those living in the State.  The examples of when that’s happened just to me would fill another column in their own right.

The Centenary of the Easter Rising presents a huge opportunity to put that right.  After all, I can’t do any better than my fellow citizen of South Derry and Ireland, Seamus Heaney who said:
“Be advised my passport’s green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
to toast the Queen.”

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  • guest

    Or prehaps they were just a bit confused about geography hmmm what do you think?

  • guest

    What in the name of feek are you on about. I never said anything of the sort..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think that names for the sake of posterity are nothing new: University of Strathclyde, University of Northumbria, West Mercia police, Cumbria…..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You are holding me to a degree of accuracy in the topic of Northern Irish pageantry.

    When I ask you to answer similarly WRT to other aspects of Northern Irish culture/society/politics you either don’t answer, fob the request off as a duff comparison or fob it off as a whataboutery.

    I put it to you that you are expecting me to adhere to a rule that you would not apply to nationalist folk.

    You may not have said it out loud but your evasion on the matter speaks deafening volumes, ergo one rule for unionists and another for nationalists.

  • guest

    Booohooo.. away and dry your eyes and quit with your weasel words. Im quite happy to say northern ireland or Londonderry . Your just a liar..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Where did I lie?

  • barnshee

    all those people voting er unionist must be confused
    about mandates

  • guest

    By calling the stormont flag the ulster flag when you know its not..

  • barnshee

    any one can choose a flag and claim it as theirs
    after all the murderers shroud aka the tricolour sticks orange on its flag without the permission of the “orange”
    any one can choose a flag….

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I believe I referred to it as ‘an’ Ulster flag.

    This name is not without precedent.
    Furthermore you still haven’t:
    a/ decreed what it’s official name actually is
    b/ Told us why Ulster University’s use of the term is not worthy of consideration

  • guest

    Whatabout the ira whatabouwhatabout whatabout. Thought something was mmissing from this conversation. Goodman barnshee.. now could you change the record cause the needles skipin…

  • Reader

    I don’t think Mirrorballman (or the three people who have up-voted a question FFS!) expected that answer.
    I find it telling that supporters of the Provisional republican movement seem to assume that anyone who despises the IRA necessarily supports the Loyalist terrorist groups instead. It’s as though there are doors closed in their minds.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    sectarian’s going a bit far, surely? At another level, we found ourselves with this new entity in 1921 and over time it was always going to develop its symbols and its narrative. Given how much of the old province of Ulster is in it, including the vast bulk of the population, the capital, the second city etc, and that ALL of NI was in the old Ulster, it was hardly surprising it would appropriate Ulsterness. To put it another way, it’s pretty inconceivable it wouldn’t use Ulster symbolism, language etc. What else are you going to use?

    Once again I strongly recommend William Crawley’s recent “Imagining Ulster” series, on all this – still on the iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05514lq

    But yes, it must have been awkward for those 3 counties of Ulster in the Republic.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you’re right to point out that legally the “NI flag” is that of the NI parliament (from 1953-72) rather than NI itself. But in reality the NI flag is used to represent N Ireland in a host of situations, including some semi-official ones, like in football and at the Commonwealth Games, where a flag is needed for NI.

    As I’ve posted elsewhere, I’d like to see a new NI flag that both communities could get behind more – and the debate here just confirms we need something like that. You’ll never please everyone and unionists could still use the old flag for their own uses if they want, like some nationalists use the Republic’s flag, but the new flag could represent the new Northern Ireland and gradually build support over time as the regional flag of choice for those looking forward and not back. And the union flag would still be there as the national flag of course.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    good, that’s a start

  • MainlandUlsterman

    What about the mandate of 1998?
    Then there were all the other times Irish nationalism recognised Northern Ireland: 1921, 1925, 1974, 1985, 1993 to name but a few …
    If you’re judging us for not having a mandate from the country next door, well … I don’t think it bothers Angela Merkel that she wasn’t elected by the French 🙂 Bit of a silly argument, no?

    The southern Irish and the British have gone their separate ways as countries – at the behest of the former more than the latter. If you’re saying Ireland should be treated as one unit, I could just as well say the British Isles should be one unit, as it used to be. Are you really arguing for the Republic’s future to be put to the vote of everyone in the British Isles? i wouldn’t think so. There is an easy answer to this and it’s self-determination. That applies to NI as much as to every other region in the world.

    It’s a dead point now anyway, Northern Ireland is agreed by all.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Well we’re in the UK so the national broadcaster is likely to have the word British in the title. But the question was, what specifically makes you pick it out for particular criticism? The fact that it’s a UK-wide organisation? Is that it?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I think the big point about the Easter Rising for Northern Ireland is that for most of us, it’s pretty irrelevant.

  • barnshee

    Please do not associate the relative non sectarian IRFU with the provo associate GAA in the same paragraph or page

  • barnshee

    Struck a cord did I ? address the point

    “any one can choose a flag and claim it as theirs after all the murderers shroud aka the tricolour sticks orange on its flag without the permission of the “orange”
    any one can choose a flag….

  • guest

    There’s that “most” again.. Mainland 6 countyman, the voice of the people . If you keeping repeating a lie you might believe it..;-)

  • Starviking

    Well, folk in Armagh will usually shop in Belfast, Portadown, Craigavon, and Banbridge, when they have to leave the city. I’ve never heard of regular shopping trips to Monaghan

  • barnshee

    The “flag of a sectarian failed government” that feed watered educated and provided a free health service that one?

  • John Collins

    Many wars (revolutions) start with high ideals. First WW aim was to end all wars- Did not happen. WW 2 was entered by GB because Poland was invaded. Poland was still effectively a conquered country when that war was over. The American War of Independence was fought for the freedom of Americans yet slavery continued in that Republic for at least 30 years after it was discontinued in the ‘oppressive’ country they chucked out. However as far as the Irish Republic goes for all its faults people have been immigrating to that state in their droves for the past fifteen years or more, so despite all our outward emigration and other failures we must be doing something right.
    Incidentally I do not think the rising was opposed by as many Nationalists as you think. The 1918 election was the first general election in which Universal Suffrage was the order of the day and was a pretty resounding victory for the separatists. It is now, in hindsight, hard to believe that the Unionsts and Home Rulers failed to put up a single candidate between them in 23 out of the 104 constituencies in that election. At the previous election in 1910 only males over 35 years had a vote so it is hard to know who had a mandate for what prior to 1918.

  • John Collins

    I would say there were more reasons for the landslide vote in favour of leaving the UK, especially in the South, than the executions. The fact is the Home Rule Party was dead only to wash them by the time of the 1918 Election. They had never faced a full electorate and most of them disappeared from the political scene in Southern Ireland after independence. For a number of years Unionists of various hues put themselves before the electorate but were always roundly beaten, even in a multi seat system. While it is wishful thinking to think Ulster Unionists would want to join a United Ireland it is equally nonsensical to think the people of the Republic would ever want to re-join the UK.

  • Glenn Clare

    Here is the rank hypocrisy from the leader of republicanism and typifies everything wrong about republicans and their delusional electorate. Where is the cherishing of Jean McConville’s 10 children orphaned by republicans and ignored by the Roman Catholic church at the time. They are still to this day they having their pain compounded. In the eyes of the leader of Sinn Fein/IRA they are just casualties of war.
    Yet other child victims are to be cherished. Now we have a hierarchy of child victims not a, “Centenary –Cherishing All the Children Equally?” rank hypocrisy.


    “Seamus McKendry, husband of Mrs McConville’s daughter Helen, said: “These remarks show the utter hypocrisy of the man. He’s heading up the campaign over the Ballymurphy massacres – but he’s not saying ‘these things happen in war’ to them, is he? I mean, no disrespect to the Ballymurphy families, but it might be time for them to find someone with more understanding and more credibility to lead their campaign.

    “They’re entitled to the truth, and to justice – and so are we.”

  • sk

    The event that essentially propelled Northern Ireland into existence is irrelevant to the people of Northern Ireland?

    You might not agree with it, but to question its historical relevance of that event to all of us on the island comes across as quite petty, frankly.

  • barnshee

    “the authority to carry out a policy, regarded as given by the electorate to a party or candidate that wins an election.”

    In what way is the mandate given by the protestants in NI to refuse inclusion in “ireland” not a mandate
    (a” mandate” that has been given continuously since 1920)

  • sk

    i think Unionists truly disregard the simple fact that they only have themselves to blame for the Easter Rising.

    Let’s not forget that they were the first to bring guns into the equation. Let’s not forget that the Irish Volunteers were formed as a direct response to their sectarian militancy.

    What the Irish wanted was less than the equivalent of what Wales has today. Less than that. A democratically ratified piece of legislation was brought through Her Majesties parliament to grant the Irish their wish. The Ulster Protestant response?

    “f**k democracy, we’re saying no”.

    And no surprises there, eh? There is not one instance in our chequered history where Ulster Protestants have ever acted with any kind of integrity or forethought. Not one. Everything they do is just another outworking of the sense of entitlement that led them to these shores in the first place. “This is ours. We’re running things.”

    Had those intransigent, self-serving, sectarian headcases adopted a more rational tone, then the Union Flag would still be flying over Dublin Castle today. That is the context in which the Easter Rising took place.

  • barnshee

    who does it belong to ?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Not all unionists SK, it’s this acknowledgement that partly has me labelled as a Lundy (almost a compliment at this stage).

    I can’t fault anything you say, I’m sure I’ve alluded to similar conclusions somewhere on this very thread and definitely more specifically in other threads.

    It still doesn’t mean that I think the rising was a good idea, rather I see it as another calamity when calamities where very much in vogue e.g. WWI and its many disasters or indeed the unionist response to Home Rule.

    And I certainly believe it played it’s part in galvanising unionism or at the very least was a god send to the naysayers and rabble rousers within unionism’s ranks.

    But yes, the Easter Rising can certainly trace its roots back to militant unionism.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    My head tells me it was a big event for the Irish and all that, but I have to admit my heart says “boring”. Ultimately I’m not that interested in the internal machinations of Irish nationalism. I find the internal machinations within unionism tedious enough.

    We did the Easter Rising in school and I found it hard to get into then too. I think the reason is, like I say, it just had nothing to say to me as an Ulster Protestant and a Brit.

    I get that there was a knock-on effect on us, as Catholic Ireland worked its way through its feelings about the relationship it wanted with the UK and took off in a few violent directions. And we ended up as NI as a result. Then subsequently, the violence of the Rising seems to have served to inspire the violent wing of Irish nationalism – and that certainly impacted on us. But look, the Rising is really Catholic Irish nationalism talking to itself, in Dublin, so I suppose it’s not surprising it’s not the most interesting event for a unionist from Ulster like me to pore over.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Most” – too obscure a word? Are we not allowed to refer to public opinion …?

    For me, Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s thoughts in the Guardian on the 80th anniversary are a better reflection of the meaning of the Rising than anything in the official celebrations: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/apr/09/northernireland.northernireland

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t disagree with much of that.
    It’s one of the ironies of Irish history that Irish nationalism as an ideal died with the advent of mass democracy.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    There were 2 years between the 1916 Rising and 1918 though. Most nationalists were firmly against the Rising in 1916 – that’s pretty well established – but between then and the 1918 elections there was a huge shift in opinion. Remember, Sinn Fein didn’t actually play a lead role in the 1916 Rising; but as a subsequent champion of it, it was SF which was best positioned to hoover up the protest votes when people objected to the death sentences against its leaders. But the tide only turned some months *after* the Rising. The Rising when it happened did not enjoy widespread support.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    This is pure speculation – I can’t find opinion polls on the topic – but I’ll make an educated guess on what I would expect the level of interest in the Easter Rising to be in NI. (I’m no expert but I do work in public opinion for a job and regularly have to guesstimate public views on a load of topics for my job). I’d say if you asked people in NI how important the Easter Rising is to them, you’d get something like:
    Very important – 15 per cent
    Important – 10 per cent
    Neither / nor – 15 percent
    Not very important – 35 per cent
    Not at all important – 25 per cent
    Like I say just a bit of fun, but I’d be interested to see what other people would expect the interest level in NI to be.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’d never want to, Jay 🙂

  • MainlandUlsterman

    racist? Can you explain?

    You’re not by any chance misunderstanding the word “ethnicity” are you? It’s not about race. The wikipedia for your ease of reference:
    “An ethnic group or ethnicity is a socially defined category of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural or national experience. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language and/or dialect, ideology, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance …”
    It’s really not credible just to sweep everyone who happens to be in the island of Ireland into a single ethnic group as if there were only the Irish nationalist cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myths, history, homeland, ideology, symbolic systems, religion, mythology. I think you’ll find Ulster Protestants have a different take on all those from Irish Catholics. That’s what makes ethnicity – not race. That’s not to say we can’t share and mix, of course we can and do. But you can’t just appropriate a load of people into your ethnicity of Irishness who don’t act or think in that way.

  • Thomas Barber

    Private investors, just like private investors own the currency known as the Dollar, like all central banks, a gift from William of Orange to all those Jewish, Vatican and city investors who financed his rise to fame.

  • Thomas Barber

    No us Irish passport holders will just continue to live like parasites off the British taxpayer, why not, sure so does the Queen, the British establishment, so do the loyal orders, so do some Unionist politicians and I’d guess lots of ordinary non sectarian and sectarian protestants, but yet we can agitate for voting rights in the Dail, with the voting rights will come the right to pay taxes to the Irish state too but still live where we have always lived West Belfast.

  • barnshee

    So pieces of paper (printed only by The British government)
    are owned by” private investors”

    I have bad news for them I know lots of people with these pieces of paper who appear to own them-

    If I were a” private investor” I would be concerned that the AFM “British Government” could (as it has done in the past ) er devalue my bits of paper-just like that


    I suggest you explore the world of currencies


    The market rules KO

  • barnshee

    “, with the voting rights will come the right to pay taxes to the Irish state too but still live where we have always lived West Belfast.”

    Brilliant sign off the dole/dla and start tomorrow

  • Zeno

    The GFA or as Brendan Hughes called it the Got Fk All.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    but Irish nationalists agreed to it – Collins no less. And after many subsequent recognitions, Irish nationalism of all stripes gave the final thumbs up to NI in 1998. And here we are. Not sure if you noticed Barney, but the game for Irish nationalism is now trying to get NI people to agree to a united Ireland – and they’re not that interested. You’re one of the last few still making the old 1950s arguments based on spurious “land rights”, ignoring the wishes of people.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Can you explain your use of the word “racist”? This had better be good.
    As already posted, I suspect you merely misunderstand the concept of ethnicity. I have already explained that, so your excuses for repeating such a toxic charge have worn very thin by this stage. I’ll have to report it unless retracted.

    To say I did not attempt to argue my point of view – on a thread on which I posted, on my last count, 25 times, usually at more length than other contributors – is, by the way, beyond parody.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you had your chance to retract, Barney. There are rules on Slugger about that kind of thing; not to mention libel law.

  • kensei

    I mean, you’ve been laying down absolute pure gold for most of the thread here, but this takes the biscuit. FF and FG are splinters of the revolutionary period SF, just as current SF (formerly Provisional SF) are. To get annoyed of the SF of De Valera and Collins taking credit for 1916 is to get annoyed at themselves. FF and FG get annoyed because current SF are making electoral gains and are showing up various forms of hypocrisy around attitudes to armed Republicanism.

  • kensei

    How much? I’ll go for a million quid. Assuming I’m allowed to come back and visit my ma.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you’re not worth that kind of money mate 😉
    I’m happy just to report you on here.

  • james

    Even McGuinness didn’t get that much. If he settled for the ‘average’ industrial wage plus perks, I doubt you’d get your million. But go ahead and claim. There’d be no coming back, sadly. History teaches us that our respective tribes simply do not get along. Fundamentally at odds. If partition haf really had some teeth then I’d wager we’d have had peace for at least the last generation, sort of like Hobbiton.

  • mickfealty

    Why do trolls not like getting banned from web forums which have unambiguously clear rules instructing them to play the ball and not the man?

    Now, you either have a clear reason for using that term, in which case be my guest. Or you don’t. If it’s the former, share it with the rest of us and welcome. If you don’t…