Debate on value of 1916 - Still trying to learn lessons

Former taoiseach John Bruton has indeed stirred a hornet’s nest with his suggestion that the 1916 Rising was a mistake and a pointless waste of lives.

The responses, and the vitriol informing some of them, show how very far we have to go if we are ever to reach a point where we might be able to make rational, unemotional judgments about our past and how we turned it into our present. Until that day comes we seem doomed to keep fighting yesterday’s battles while the present slips by in a blur of missed opportunity.

Yesterday we published a response from Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams who, unsurprisingly dismissed Mr Bruton’s remarks. Today we publish a response from Mr Bruton. Mr Adams resorted to the age-old Sinn Féin tactic of playing the man, not the ball. Mr Adams relies on a one-eyed view of our tragic past to try to prove the value of 1916; he relies on the nationalist version of history to justify nationalists’ behaviour.

There is something particularly Irish, something particularly delusional about this. The core of Mr Adams’ argument seems to be that politics had failed and the 1916 Rising was essential. And this from a man who spent the best part of his life carrying coffins, praising “volunteers” but never, by his own version of history, joining their ranks. All this from a man who achieved nothing of any consequence until he sat at a table and talked to those who did not share his views.

Only in Ireland, and what a price we pay.

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