Reform Movement needs to know where our nation came from

MR Robin Bury in a recent letter made a wide-ranging attack on the 1916 Rising and its leaders (Irish Examiner, February 13). Perhaps he or some other members of the Reform Movement would like to deal with the following points.

1. No democracy or mandate applied in 1916, since women had no votes. The first time women were regarded as human beings at all from the political point of view was in the declaration of independence at Easter 1916, which was directed to” Irishmen and Irishwomen”.

2. The rising resulted in the collapse in recruitment of cannon-fodder for the British war machine and thus saved thousands of Irish lives.

3. Britain’s attempt to enforce conscription in Ireland in 1918 was soundly defeated by a risen people inspired by the sacrifices of the 1916 leaders and as a result many thousands of more Irish lives were saved.

4. The “constitutional nationalist” John Redmond was responsible for at least three times as many Irish deaths as the combined total of deaths from revolutionary organisations in 1798, 1803, 1848, 1916 and the subsequent War of Independence.

5. John Redmond had no mandate or authority to declare war on Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. (Believe it or not - Bulgaria! Could Mr Bury possibly explain what this poor little country ever did to us that we should be at war with her?)

6. Apart from being “a great money-making racket” (George Orwell’s description) the British Empire was a ruthless organisation responsible for a holocaust against coloured people.

The poor coloured people were robbed of their land and dignity. Their cultures were destroyed, millions were sold into slavery and those lucky enough to avoid this effectively became serfs in their own countries subject to the whims of the “white man boss” representing the British Empire.

7. In the light of the appalling record of this empire, any group of people would have the moral right to oppose it by revolutionary means if necessary.

The action of a group of German Army Officers led by Count Claus von Stauffenberg in attempting to overthrow Hitler in 1944 was perfectly justifiable even although they had no mandate from the German people or even from their own superior officers. Would Mr Bury agree that the Warsaw uprising in 1944 was very much alike the 1916 Rising? Would he condemn the Polish Rebels also?

8. The 1916 Rising set in train a series of events that led to the collapse of the British Empire. Accordingly, not only Irish people but all humanity is deeply in the debt of the 1916 leaders.

Finally, Mr Bury can rest assured that long after he and I are dead and forgotten, the names of the 1916 leaders (including that of James Connolly for whom he seems to have a particular aversion) will continue to command respect and to inspire freedom-loving people throughout the world.

Padraig Ó Cuanacháin

Dún an Óir

Sean-Bóthar na hEochaille


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