How should we remember 1916?
A chara, – Paddy McEvoy’s suggestion (November 14th) that we should remember the 1916 Rising in its centenary by, well, lambasting it, is laughable.
He asserts: “The Irish people should have been consulted about “ ‘armed struggle’ in 1916”.
By what means could they have asked anybody? We didn’t live in a democratic country to ask anything of our British masters. We had already “asked” twice for Home Rule (something far short of independence) and had been denied it by the undemocratic House of Lords in London.
Just as we didn’t know if the people thought we were “better together” because they were never asked. We lived under British rule and we could like it or lump it – but the people did ratify the 1916 Proclamation in the 1918 general election, which saw Sinn Féin win 76 per cent of the seats in the all-Ireland general election. Instead of taking the obvious hint, the British continued to rule a country it knew did not want them. So who were the anti-democrats in that period? It certainly wasn’t the “guardians of the threshold” as he so eloquently refers to us.
So the implication that the men and women of 1916 and the republicans of that period were anti-democratic is insincere in the extreme. Our own idea to honour the great men and women of 1916 would be the implication of democracy that has been so long denied – the Irish people as one unit – by way of an all-Ireland referendum – deciding the issue of Irish unity, just as was denied to the men and women of 1916 that they felt the need to assert themselves in arms.
One Ireland, one vote. Surely all democrats can agree to that? And surely no better time to implement democracy back in Ireland than 2016. Now that would really would be a suitable tribute to the men and women of freedom and liberty. – Yours, etc,
Seán Heuston 1916 Society,