Republicans involved in Troubles did not spring from 1916 idealism

Danny Morrison is a fine writer. He is also ‘a good republican’ as Gerry Adams might say. He is not much of an historian. (Irish Examiner, Monday 11).

Republicans involved in Troubles did not spring from 1916 idealism

It is true that the President, Taoiseach, and Óglaigh na hEireann ignored the embarrassing (Provisional) Sinn Fein ‘funeral’ for Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa on the afternoon of 2th August 2015.

They were busy at the state commemoration for him which took place at Glasnevin that morning. President Higgins laid a wreath watched by Dublin’s Lord Mayor Críona Ní Dhálaigh according to the Irish Examiner report.

Morrison clothes the Northern troubles in the mantle of 1916. But is this correct?

The brave men and women of 1916 were conferred with legitimacy by the 1918 General Election and by the result of the subsequent War of Independence.

When they charged the GPO on Easter Monday 1916 they had no mandate but their deaths lit a flame that their colleagues (Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, W.T Cosgrave and Countess Markievicz among others) fanned to a fire.

As I have written elsewhere ‘if the War of Independence had failed it would now be called the second Sinn Fein Rebellion and those four republicans would have also been shot’ but Irish history took a different path.

What the War of Independence did not achieve was to persuade Ulster unionists that their best interests lay in working with Irish nationalists in one state.

Yet the creation of the majority dictatorship northern state, coupled with the British Government’s incredible decision to permit the removal of proportional representation, sowed the seeds of its destruction in 1972.

Without a voice nationalists were discriminated against in the North but Mr. Morrison’s ‘good republicans’ never achieved a majority vote among northern nationalists until they stopped attempting to bomb Britain out of, and Ulster Unionists into, a ‘United Ireland’.

Even now they only got 24.5% of the vote in the 2015 British General Election. Nobody else needs to ‘die for the cause’ but it’s going to take an awful lot of patience to achieve a United Ireland.

Yet in his article Morrison seems stuck in the old territorial nationalism cul-de-sac. But for all their efforts have they got any farther than Redmond, or Collins? Is Ulster British? Is all of Ireland Irish soil?

If McGuiness sits in government ‘advancing nationalist interests and imposing British austerity does it matter where we draw the border?

The Good Friday Agreement allows the people living on our island the chance to share it no matter where they live, what sports they play, which God they worship.

Barry Keane
Glendalough Park
Cork

More in this section