How the 1916 rebels got a retrospective mandate

ROBIN BURY of the Reform Movement states (Irish Examiner letters, November 8) that “1916 was not mandated”.

Of course, but what was mandated in those days? Democracy did not exist. Women had no votes.

Who “mandated” British imperialism? When did the unfortunate English people “mandate” the ruling junta in London to engage in worldwide imperialism, the holocaust of centuries against subject races and the establishment of an empire on which the sun never set.

Who “mandated” John Redmond effectively to declare war on Germany, Austria, Hungry, Turkey and even poor little Bulgaria?

Was he acting on behalf of the women of Ireland or the workers of Ireland? Of course not.

James Connolly was correct when he stated that World War I was caused by “royal freebooters and metropolitan thieves” in the capitals of Europe who were responsible for the mass murder of their own working classes in a wretched squabble over power, politics and colonies.

It was indeed a tragedy that 50,000 Irishmen died and another 50,000 were wounded mentally and physically in a war that was absolutely no concern of theirs. John Redmond and the pro-British element in this country were responsible for many more deaths than were ever sacrificed in the cause of Irish independence.

Thank God for the 1916 leaders. The Provisional Government promised fair elections involving all the people of Ireland - women as well as men.

As General ‘Butcher’ Maxwell explained in a letter to Field Marshall French in May 1916, the Rising led to a complete collapse in recruiting in Ireland for the British army.

And when the British government dared to attempt to impose conscription in Ireland in 1918, it was soundly defeated by a risen people.

How many Irish lives did the Rising save - 50,000 or maybe 100,000? Perhaps Mr Bury can give us his estimate.

The action of the rebels was very clearly “mandated” by the Irish people in the 1918 elections when Sinn Féin won an overwhelming majority. For the first time women had votes, although they had to be over 30.

If younger women had votes not even the most extreme advocate of empire would expect the young factory girls in Dublin, Cork or Limerick to vote unionist or for the discredited Irish Parliamentary Party that had dragged Ireland into a bloody and disastrous war.

The British government commitment to ‘home rule’ was hardly proved by their refusal to accept the authority of Dáil Éireann - the lawfully elected government of the Irish people.

The War of Independence that followed was the responsibility of the British government. The deaths of their own soldiers and Irish people in that war was the responsibility of the British government also.

The 1916 Rising set in train a series of events that led to the disintegration of the British empire, and all other empires. All humanity is deeply in the debt of men like Padraig Pearse and James Connolly.

Next Easter everybody in Ireland, irrespective of politics or religion, should join in commemorating the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. An invitation should also be extended to representatives of nations that formally suffered under the British empire and received hope and inspiration as a result of the sacrifices of the 1916 leaders.

Pádraig Ó Cuanacháin

Dún an Óir

Sean Bothar na nEochaille


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