Rebuilding "the nation"

Just under a century on from the Easter Rising in Ireland, revisionism rears its head much more profoundly than ever as we saw politicians from all parties latch on to the momentous event, commemorating the men who fought and died so that Ireland might be freed from British rule, or in other words, vaunting dissident physical-force republicans. As Jude Collins recently wrote in his blog, “It’s all different now, of course”.

In Galway, Éamon Ó Cuív spoke of rebuilding the “nation”, summoning the “courage, foresight, optimism and belief in the ability of the Irish people” that was supposedly held by the “1916 generation”.

It will come as no surprise, however, that Mr Ó Cuív was not really talking about rebuilding the Irish nation. What he appeared to be talking about was rebuilding the failed 26 county republic.

What appears to be missing from most of the rhetoric surrounding the tribute to the fallen rebels of 1916 is what they were actually campaigning and fighting for: the freedom of Ireland and its people to govern their own affairs.

Perhaps, instead of using the occasion to utter soundbites and display pseudo-patriotism, these politicians should advocate some education as to what was enshrined in the Proclamation.

The 1916 dissidents said:

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.

A failed republic later, perhaps it is time for another proclamation?

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