Wednesday, October 26, 2005

National pride

At the weekend Fianna Fail Ard Fheis the Taoiseach announced the return of commemoration of 1916 with a military march past the GPO from next year (90th anniversary).

[Aside....I enjoyed a great belly laugh from Miriam Lord's light hearted article in the Irish Independent on Saturday. She evoked a brilliant image ...."It'll be like Red Square in O'Connell Street next Easter. Socialist Bertie on top of the GPO taking the salute in a Russian hat and the might of the Irish army parading a few missiles and their new tanks. Fly pasts. Gunboats on the Liffey."..... Yes indeed, 1916, 1917, what's a year between comrades?!]

Assisted by the recent IRA cessation I do welcome the spirit of enhanced pride in our cherished Irish heritage, history and imagery. I mean this on two levels...

1. I recall the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising when I was at school. We were taught to have pride in the brave men and women who fought for Irish freedom from Britain. There was an RTE serialized drama on TV depicting all the events of Easter week 1916. The rebel Irish leaders and their forces took over the GPO and other buildings, read a proclamation, put themselves in the front line. Fought openly and bravely for freedom and either died fighting or were captured and executed. I know they were using violence to achieve their ends whilst slow political moves were afoot. However, it's hard to compare the 1916 Rising to the modern IRA practices of cowardly bomb planting with mass civilian deaths, secret executions and racketeering. Moreover, the modern IRA's cause to bludgeon Northern Ireland, where the majority are loyalist, into Irish unity was always completely misguided. Of course the IRA ceasefire has to be welcomed and has opened the door for us to recapture some pride in our identity. We should celebrate the birth of our independence in 1922. Regarding 1916, even though it was a violent event, I do feel that the Irish Government should take control of it's remembrance. It has to be better than the Sinn Fein/IRA folk hijacking it.

2. I was at a funeral a few years ago of an lovely elderly lady who was devoted to her country and language. Her funeral mass was conducted in the Irish language and there was an Irish flag on the altar. A lady in green clothing read prayers in Irish. One part of me said that this is beautiful....another part of me associated the imagery with a modern Sinn Fein/IRA propaganda event. How horrible to have such unwelcome negative thoughts invade my mind. The modern IRA had caused this. Let's hope they are finished with senseless violence for good and we can restore all our rightful pride in what we are.

As a footnote...There are those who say Bertie's plan was a master stroke for the Ard Fheis to win some political ground from Sinn Fein and that he didn't get other parties involved in a prior debate. Yes indeed, but so what? That's one reason why Fianna Fail are successful - good PR. Fine Gael could arguably claim an equal or better republican pedigree but never use it.


Sarah said...

Hi John, I agree with your comments especially those about FG's failure to capitalise on its own republican heritage. They are absolutely abysmal at managing at their image. FF are the masters of the stroke and fair dues to them.
On 1916 tho' IMHO (as a proper history graduate!) I would argue (and so would others) that 1916 actually did very little to achieve independence. Until the moronic Brits shot the prisoners the uprising had no support from the people at all. The War of Independence got our Independence -not 1916. But people always speak as if 1916 was when the Brits caved. 1916 was the same as every other stupid failed rebellion, 1798, 1803 bla bla. They had the flag, the declaration and the martyrs. But other than that it didn't actually achieve much from a military perspective. The legacy of 1916 is purely symbolic. A powerful symbol it is true. But still only a symbol. Hurrah for Collins and the War is what I say.

John of Dublin said...

Cheers Sarah. I quite agree, actually 1916 was really a huge mess, most people hated it at the time, O'Connell Street was devastated. Worst thing the Brits did was to execute the leaders though. As I mentioned in my article, I would prefer us to celebrate actual independence, not a violent event. But remembrance of 1916 is best kept under government control rather than the Sinn Fein/IRA folk as I said.