He is correct that O’Donovan Rossa cannot be whitewashed to suit establishment politics. Of course, all who profess allegiance to the ideal of a united Ireland, with full control of her destiny and resources, claim descent from O’Donovan Rossa, which explains why the 26-county state could not refuse to commemorate him.
To refuse to commemorate O’Donovan Rossa would be to repudiate the right of the Irish state to exist. Interestingly, several articles appeared last week in Irish daily papers attacking O’Donovan Rossa and stating that Ireland should have remained in the British Empire. Of course, such arguments ignore the Famine, evictions, land war, suppression of the Irish language and culture, to name but some of the drawbacks of the British Empire in Ireland.
O’Donovan Rossa was freed from horrendous English prisons by an Amnesty campaign (the Amnesty Association was founded in 1864), which also freed Tom Clarke and others in later years. What better way to honour O’Donovan Rossa, and the men of 1916, than to grant amnesty to today’s Irish republican prisoners — that would herald the start of true reconciliation in Ireland in 2016.