Democratic credentials of the 1916 leaders

MAY I congratulate Mr Robin Bury of the Reform Movement for his non-reply (‘Pearse putsch in 1916 was against wishes of vast majority,’ Irish Examiner letters December 12) to my earlier letter of November 28 (‘Pearse the rebel was once a democrat who had been betrayed’).

In that letter I suggested that the democratic credentials of those responsible for the Easter Rising of 1916 should be judged in the context of the events of that time.

I then asked Mr Bury to respond to certain questions:

1. Did he reject the view of Ruth Dudley Edwards and other historians that Pearse, in his youth, was a harmless cultural nationalist?

No reply.

2. Did he accept the fact that Pearse in April 1912 spoke in favour of Home Rule in the company of John Redmond?

No reply.

3. Did he consider the Solemn League and Covenant, signed by the Ulster unionists in September 1912, which pledged its signatories to use “all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland,” to be democratic. No reply.

4. Did he consider the further actions of Ulster unionists, such as the creation of an Ulster Volunteer Force, an Ulster Provisional Government and the Larne gunrunning to be democratic? No reply.

5. Did he regard speeches by Sir Edward Carson and leading British unionists, such as FE Smith and Bonar Law, which encouraged the Ulster unionists on their path of military resistance to Home Rule to be democratic?

No reply.

Instead of addressing these questions, so essential to any evaluation of the democratic credentials of those who participated in the Easter Rising, Mr Bury asserts we should not continue “to mourn the likes of Pearse” and that we should respect the memories of those who fell in the Great War “for the freedom of small nations”.

I am quite happy to honour the memories of those who died in that war, but would Mr Bury please explain why, if the war was fought for “the freedom of small nations,” the British government resisted the conferring of that freedom upon Ireland at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919?

Dr Brian P Murphy OSB

Glenstal Abbey


Co Limerick

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