Thursday, April 13, 2006


Thursday Thoughts: My view of the Rising

The Rising was a great eventLately on United Irelander you may have noticed one or two posts on the Easter Rising (ahem) but I've realised that while I have given a staunch defense of the Rising numerous times and while I have endeavoured to pick apart the flaws of certain revisionist commentators, I have not yet actually put forth a frank and open account of my own views on the Easter Rising.

With that being the case, I thought that for this week's issue of Thursday Thoughts I would, quite simply, give my thoughts on the 1916 Rising. In doing so, I will first analyse the common arguments against the Rising and my thoughts on them, I will give my own reasons for why the Rising was justified and lastly I'll give my thoughts on what its overall significance was to Ireland. First up, the common arguments against the Easter Rising...

Home Rule would have been introduced anyway

I disagree, certainly not the Home Rule that had been initially sought by the Irish people. It is clear that the UVF posed a serious threat to stability and by 1914 there was talk of some counties being excluded from Home Rule and some form of Partition being introduced. If the British had introduced Home Rule straight away - which is what they should have done - I don't believe there would have been a Rising at all. But the British chose to toy around with the Irish once again. This time they paid for it.

The Rising was a terrorist act

No, I don't buy that for one second. There is a difference between a terrorist act and an uprising. The goal of a terrorist act is to target civilians to strike fear into the heart of the establishment, the goal of an uprising is to have the people 'rise' up with you. There's a big difference. The Easter rebels did not want to harm Irish civilians, they wanted to make a point. They wanted to take a stand. They wanted the people to join their fight as Emmet had wanted over a century earlier. In the end the rebels surrendered to save the lives of civilians, who as I have highlighted recently on United Irelander were being murdered in cold blood by the British. The 'terrorist' argument doesn't wash.

The rebels had no democratic mandate

In my opinion this argument is highly naive as the reality is the Irish people had not had their democratic wish - Home Rule - delivered to them. The unelected British House of Lords had rejected two of the Home Rule Bills and they delayed the third Bill. Then the British went and postponed Home Rule using WW1 as an excuse. British democracy wasn't all it was cracked up to be back then so in my opinion the argument that the rebels had no mandate is a pointless one. Now for why I feel the Rising was justified:

British rule could no longer be tolerated

It's amazing that the Irish people put up with British boobery for as long they did. However, the fact that the British were not giving the Irish people their wish - Home Rule - meant that they could no longer be respected. As well as that the British were showing a willingness to listen to the hostile minority in Ireland who threatened to challenge democracy. With that being the case, an armed insurrection by the rebels was justifiable because while the unionists only had to threaten violence to get their wish, the Easter rebels had to try and forcibly remove the British, which is what they attempted.


Ripping the Irish nation in two was unacceptable. In 1912 Herbert Asquith made a speech in which he acknowledged that the Irish nation was one nation. Thus the rebels had a definite right to challenge any attempt to divide the island in two.

British mistreatment

While the unionists were given an Ulster division in the British Army complete with symbols and emblems, efforts by the nationalist leader Redmond to attain similar measures for nationalists were treated with disdain. This added to the disillusionment many in Ireland felt over the war. The British did not prevent guns from Germany making it into Larne for the unionists but yet they made an effort to prevent guns from Germany landing in the hands of Irish Volunteers. They also opened fire on a jeering crowd on Bachelor's Walk a few years prior to the Rising. All examples of British mistreatment. The fact is that the Irish Home Rule movement was built around the belief that the British could not handle Ireland's domestic affairs and while the majority of Irish people might not have called for it at the time, they were better off as an independent state free of British rule.

Final thoughts:

The efforts of the Easter rebels to free Ireland from British rule was a noble cause that helped establish the Irish state that exists today. The Easter Rising is a massively important event for the people of this country and we derive so much from it - our flag, our anthem, the Proclamation, our republican ideals, these are just a few things that we owe to the Rising. Some revisionists might not like the fact that a few hundred rebels bloodied the nose of the greatest superpower on Earth but that is what happened. Those who try and defend the British should look at the legacy that it has left to the world. Is Ireland a special case? Sadly not. Look at Israel/Palestine, look at India/Pakistan, look at Africa. The fact is British colonialism has left a legacy of misery and unhappiness all around the globe.

The Easter Rising meanwhile, epitomises, to me, everything that is good about the Irish character - heart, determination, defiance. Never giving up and never giving in. The Easter rebels are responsible for people like me living in a free Ireland and while I feel we still have things to do to fully achieve the aims of the men and women of 1916, I believe one day that we will.

This Sunday I look forward to honouring those brave men and women who fought British rule during the Easter Rising.

They fought for the freedom of a small nation - their own one. And I thank them for that.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.