Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The Rising remembered
Around 120,000 Irish people lined the streets to pay tribute to the men and women who put their lives on the line for Irish freedom.
I found Sunday's events very touching and I felt they were conducted with great class and dignity.
In ten years time, the celebrations which will mark the 100th anniversary of the Rising will no doubt be on a far grander scale.
President honouring those who died, including the British, during the Rising
I felt the British decision to send their ambassador to Ireland, Stewart Eldon, to the celebrations showed great maturity and character and I feel it reflects the healthy Anglo-Irish relationship that currently exists today.
Similarly, I welcomed the decision to honour the British who died during the Rising as well. While a minority of British soldiers may have committed some barbaric acts during the fighting, I would say the majority were probably decent fellows and I would be more annoyed with the actions of the higher ranked officials anyway.
All in all I was most impressed with the festivities. I sometimes feel as if in this country there's a certain guilt factor associated with celebrating the men and women of 1916 due to subsequent events which followed it, but we live in better times now and we need to be able to express our patriotism confidently.
In relation to the response of the unionists, while I'm disappointed with the way many unionists treated the 90th anniversary celebrations, at least unionists gave their views on the Rising which is better than them simply choosing to not acknowledge it.
I remain hopeful that one day soon unionists will come to see that attending the commemorations of the Rising is not necessarily a bad thing, nor thus it imply support for the Rising itself. After all, if a Catholic attends an Orange Order march in Donegal on the 12th of July, he's hardly showing support for the murder of Catholics, is he?
There were many young children attending the Easter celebrations on Sunday and contrary to what some may think, those children are not bigots. This is the 21st century and we should endeavour to make mature and thoughtful gestures in this day and age.
Small steps do lead to big strides.
© 2008 United Irelander.