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If apologists for 1916 and Fenian terrorism can remove the scales from their eyes, they will perceive Westminster had wanted to remove itself from any form of direct rule in Ireland from as early as 1913 if not earlier.
British Prime Minister Herbet Asquith (possibly one of Ireland’s greatest political friends) had made it clear to a Home Rule gathering in 1912 his ideal was an Ireland free to choose whether it desired to be constitutionally connected to the United Kingdom or not. However, as John Redmond had discerned, a great change had occurred in relation to Catholic Ireland’s attitude to the Empire and the completion of the Five Irish Land Acts from 1870 more than confirmed his insightful judgment.
Catholic constitutionally nationalist Ireland was becoming comfortable inside the prospect of a Home Rule Union and the separatist Fenian Programme was in deep trouble - hence the decision among Fenian radicals in the 1900’s to resort to the violence that was 1916.
Patrick Pearse was without doubt insane, but nonetheless criminally culpable. However despite Ruth Dudley Edwards skillful virtual ‘whitewash’ of him in her Triumph of Failure, biography of 1977, we must not be lulled into an indulgent view of Pearse as a fool made of putty inside the hands of ruthless men. The bloody narrative from 1916 to 1923 was not only an Irish civil war, but a war between liberal constitutionalism and the savage force of an unmandated insurrection - in no way remotely justified.
Grove, Celbridge, Co Kildare
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