Humphreys: John Bruton not speaking for coalition

Heather Humphreys: Bruton comments not hers
Heather Humphreys: Bruton comments not hers

All events between 1912 and 1916 that led to the creation of modern Ireland are being commemorated, according to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys.

She was responding to comments from the former Taoiseach, John Bruton, who said the Easter Rising was “completely unnecessary” because Home Rule was already on the statute book.

A spokesperson for Ms Humphreys, said Mr Bruton was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the current coalition.

She said his comments cannot be attributed to Ms Humphreys, as he was making them in a personal capacity..

The spokesperson said a number of highly significant events have been marked to date, including the Home Rule Bill, the 1913 Lockout and the Ulster Covenant.

Fianna Fáil said it would be “deeply inappropriate” for Ms Humphreys — who is also chair of the all-party Oireachtas Committee tasked with organising the 1916 commemorations — to hold the same views as those expressed by the former leader of her party.

In his submission to the Government on how the centenary of the 1916 Rising should be remembered, Mr Bruton said the violence of that period “should not be retrospectively justified in the other commemorations that are to be undertaken over the next 10 years”.

He said the Government should instead commemorate the centenary of the passage into law of the Home Rule Bill on September 18, 1914.

He made a similar case at a recent debate at the Irish Embassy in London, when he said: “Ireland could have achieved better results, for all the people of the island, if it had continued to follow the successful non-violent parliamentary Home Rule path, and had not embarked on the path of physical violence, initiated by the IRB and the Irish Citizen Army in Easter Week of 1916.

“Sinn Féin and the IRA should have used the Home Rule Act as a peaceful stepping stone to dominion status and full independence in the same way as the Treaty of 1921 was so used, but only after so much blood had been shed.”

Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly said the comments had caused “deep upset” among the families and direct descendents of those involved in the 1916 Rising.

He said they had already been expressing concern they were being sidelined from the commemorations.

“There are around 150,000 direct descendants of the 1916 volunteers still living in Ireland,” said Mr Daly. “These are people whose mothers, grandmothers, fathers, and grandfathers sacrificed their lives to ensure that Irish citizens of a republic were given equal rights and equal opportunities, and they feel upset that a former taoiseach would imply that their cause was a waste of time.”

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