Monday, April 10, 2006


Monday Madness - The Rising's 'evil' legacy

Some British people want to crap all over the Rising Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. The rotten revisionists have finally begun their attack on Ireland's Easter Rising commemorations this Sunday which will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the rebellion.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft, journalist from The Observer, has sunk his claws into this important event for the Irish people by blasting the celebrations which he believes commemorate an "evil legacy". He might want to correct the subtitle on his piece though:

"For Ireland to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 1916 rebellion is to betray democracy."

It's actually the 90th anniversary, Geoffrey. Tut-tut. It doesn't end there though. Let me highlight some more of his innaccurate nonsense...

"Last Tuesday, Denis Donaldson was found savagely murdered in County Donegal. Next weekend, the government of the Irish Republic will noisily celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Perhaps only in Ireland could anyone fail to see the connection between the two."

No Geoffrey, perhaps only in the high-brow parts of England would anyone be so ignorant as to look for a connection. There is no connection of course and Donaldson is barely mentioned again in the article so it's a stupid remark.

"Although it claimed to be a national rebellion, the rising was a very strange affair. The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a tiny sect with little popular following. In 1914, there had been deep sympathy in Ireland for Belgium as a small Catholic nation brutally violated, the official Nationalist party had supported the Great War and for every 'volunteer' who took part in the rising, there were 100 Irishmen fighting on the Western Front for home rule, which had already been granted by the London government."

It seems this guy has no idea what he is talking about. 'Deep sympathy' for Catholic Belgium? That's quite an exaggeration and the numbers who signed up to fight for the British Army were in fact not as high as had been initially hoped. This is what Inspector-General of the RIC, Sir Neville Chamberlain, said of recruiting in Queen's County (Laois):

"(the people) regard (the war) with sympathetic interest, but more or less from a detached point of view"

According to historian Charles Townshend, "Canon Hannay's analysis of the problem was more acute and more sombre. He saw the apathy of the Irish people in general as":

'much worse than any which existed in England, because at the back of it was a vague feeling that to fight for the British Empire was a form of disloyalty to Ireland.'

According to Townshend, "The problem, at root, was visceral anti-English feeling" which Hannay described as:

'smouldering, lacking public expression, but strong.'

Maybe Mr Wheatcroft should pick up Mr Townshend's latest book on the Rising?

"Sentiment was revolutionised by the executions which followed the rising, Sinn Fein swamped the constitutional party (just as it has recently done in Ulster), a free state was created in 1922 and it soon became what one Tory politician predicted at the time, the most reactionary corner of Europe."

Can you believe the pathetic and embarrassing connection made between the Sinn Féin victory over the IPP, and Sinn Féin's recent victory in the North over the SDLP? Apparently they are now one and the same despite the fact that several Irish parties in the Irish state can trace their roots to the Sinn Féin of 1918!

"Although revisionist Irish historians have spent the past generation examining the creation of the state and its underlying myths, even the best of them tend towards insularity and have not noticed how Ireland fitted into a European pattern."

Again, wrong. I remember myself when I was at university attending a lecture on the Irish independence struggle where I learned of the parallels between Irish history from this period and Finland's history from this period.

"In the early decades of the 20th century, there was everywhere a reaction against constitutional liberalism into irrationalism, whether it was Mussolini's successful 'march on Rome' in 1922 or Hitler's unsuccessful Munich putsch of 1923.

"The Easter Rising was the forerunner, echoed all too often thereafter. Patrick Pearse's exalted (or insane) words about the tired old earth that needed to be enriched by the spilling of much blood - that at a time when the blood of several million young men was being spilled on the Western Front - was the very language of Blut und Boden (blood and soil) that the National Socialists would soon use."

A pathetic effort to associate Pearse with these fascists in yet another attempt to portray the man as a "proto-fascist", as Kevin Myers would say. Wheatcroft overlooks the fact that such important figures as Sigmund Freud espoused the ideal of 'blood sacrifice' so Pearse was hardly a "forerunner" but rather a man of his time. Incidentally, speaking of blood sacrifice, here is a quote from one Winston Churchill:

"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

Make of that what you will, ladies and gentleman.

"When Hitler came to power, he built a great mausoleum in Munich to the 'old comrades' who had fallen there in the failed putsch. They were just the same number, 16 dead men."

I don't feel the need to comment on these ridiculous remarks as I don't believe for one second that someone could write something this stupid with the intention of contributing a serious point.

"The Free State, now Republic, is not a fascist country, but it is a country with a hang-up and an internal contradiction. You realise this when you go into Leinster House in Dublin, the home of the Dáil or parliament. The first things you see in the antechamber are three images. Ahead is the 1916 proclamation and on either side are two portraits of men in uniform - Cathal Brugha and Michael Collins - there for party balance.

"Both were killed in the savage little Irish civil war of 1922-23 which succeeded the previous Troubles, Brugha fighting on the Republican side from which the governing Fianna Fáil party descends and Collins for the Free Staters who are the forebears of the opposition Fine Gael party.

"And so here is the legislature of what claims to be and, indeed, is a parliamentary democracy; and here are three images celebrating bloody rebellion against parliamentary democracy. One simple fact will be brushed over in next weekend's celebrations."

Mr Wheatcroft conveniently overlooks the fact that it was the unelected British House of Lords which had ensured that the democratic desire of the Irish people - an Irish parliament - would not come to fruition. The House of Lords had destroyed attempts by the Irish Parliamentary Party and the Liberals to give the Irish people their desire - Home Rule. Even when the Lords' power was curtailed, the Home Rule bill was delayed and it would never be introduced in the manner in which it had been originally sought for decades.

What we in Ireland will celebrate this Sunday Mr Wheatcroft is attaining something that the British denied the Irish people for centuries - a voice!

"In 1916, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a democracy with limited representative government and a rule of law. Obviously, it wasn't a perfect democracy - what is? - but it was much more of one than most countries on earth then or many today."

Who is Mr Wheatcroft trying to convince? Himself, or the rest of us? The British claimed to be a democracy when they denied Catholics the right to vote. They made the same claim when they denied women the right to vote. They again claimed to be a democracy when they denied Irish people their own parliament. They criticised the Catholics, criticised the Suffragettes, and criticised the Easter rebels. Why don't people like Mr Wheatcroft criticise the British attitude of the time? Incidentally, the Irish state is doing quite nicely here in 2006.

"Over the years, the contradiction worsened. In 1966, Dublin marked the 50th anniversary of the rising with an orgy of nationalist bombast. Eamonn de Valera had been one of the leaders of the rising and was by then President of the Republic, in which capacity he renewed the irredentist claim on Northern Ireland and in the coarsest Son-of-the-Gael terms.

"Although that wasn't the only cause of the horrible bloodshed in Ulster over the next 30 years, there can be no possible doubt that it helped to validate that 'armed struggle'. After all, violent republicans continually invoke the Easter rebels, claiming to be the true heirs of Connolly and Pearse."

Yeah that's right, Wheatcroft. Blame the 50th anniversary celebrations. Of course it had nothing to do with Catholics being treated like animals by the Northern Ireland state, right?

"When 12 Protestants were burned to death at the La Mon House hotel in 1978 or 11 worshippers were killed by a bomb on Remembrance Sunday at Enniskillen in 1987, or another 10 Protestants, two of them children, were blown to pieces in the Shankill Road in 1993, a deed publicly celebrated by Gerry Adams, or 29 people were killed at Omagh in 1998 - on all those occasions, the Provisional IRA or its splinter factions thought that a terrible beauty was born. In 'Irish republican' terms, maybe they were right."

I doubt the Provos would have regarded these acts as a "terrible beauty" and it is farcical anyway to compare a stand-and-fight battle to a terrorist bombing campaign.

"Before the haunting but morally repugnant 'Easter 1916', Yeats had earlier written the play, Cathleen ni Houlihan, and he would wonder: 'Did that play of mine send out certain men the English shot?' It was a good question."

Yeats wasn't being serious and I hope the same can be said of yourself judging by this drivel you're producing.

"Today his shade might ask: 'Did that poem of mine send out certain men who murdered children?' or hundreds of men and women up to and including Donaldson."

I think a better question to ask would be, 'Did that poem of mine send certain idiotic journalists into a frenzy so they could produce inaccurate, impertinent claptrap?

"In another unforgettable line, Yeats wrote that 'the blood-dimmed tide is loosed' and ever since 1916, Ireland has been lapped by that tide. Most Irish people don't really like this cult of violence and yet they cannot escape the legacy of the rising which has poisoned Irish life."

The only thing that "poisoned Irish life" was British incompetence and mistreatment. Today Anglo-Irish relations are healthy because the British are not governed by stupid and cruel politicians.

"The problem is quite simple. If the Irish want to celebrate the Easter Rising they may, but they must realise that they are in no moral position whatever to condemn any other violent insurrection against another lawful government carried out by people who feel strongly enough. Looking around the world today, the Easter rebels have a good deal to answer for."

This is Wheatcroft's attempted coup de grâce over the Easter Rising celebrations. We the Irish people are told by Mr Wheatcroft that we are in no moral position to condemn other violent insurrections around the world. This of course coming from a man whose own country illegally entered another country to topple its leader and bring about "freedom", "democracy" and so forth. Talk about hypocrisy!

How can the British bemoan the so-called "illegal" activites by the Easter rebels to topple rule in a country when the British themselves did the very same thing a few short years ago in Iraq!

The Easter rebels of course were fighting in their own country too in a much more different era.

Mr Wheatcroft's piece would be insulting if it weren't so historically and truthfully arseways. If the only thing the revisionists can come up with is this kind of half-baked, hackneyed hokum then they are all in a very sorry state indeed!

You can rest assured that United Irelander will have no problem whatsoever rubbishing the revisionists as we count down to the glorious celebrations of the 1916 Rising this Sunday.

Bring it on, revisionists!


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