Ó Cuív says Bruton’s remarks about Easter Rising ‘delusional’

Former FF minister says Britain would not have conceded independence without a fight

Former taoiseach John Bruton's belief that Britain would have ceded independence to Ireland without an armed struggle has been described as "delusional" by Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív.

Mr Ó Cuív, grandson of Éamon de Valera, said there was no evidence to suggest that Britain would have allowed the Irish Free State to have its own army or foreign policy had it not been for the Easter Rising and War of Independence.

In a submission to the Government requesting that the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Home Rule Bill on September 18th, 1914, be marked as part of the decade of commemoration, Mr Bruton suggested that both the Easter Rising and War of Independence had been “unnecessary”.

He contended that Home Rule was on the statute books and would have been implemented at the end of the war in any case.


He also maintained that the violence of that period “should not be retrospectively justified in the other commemorations that are to be undertaken over the next 10 years”.

However, Mr Ó Cuív, a former Fianna Fáil minister, said the Home Rule on offer in 1914 was less than what Wales has at the moment and the British would not have conceded independence to Ireland without a fight.

Mr Bruton said Home Rule would have allowed Ireland to pursue a path towards independence and the country would probably have got what it got in 1921 by the end of the 1920s without the bloodshed and division that followed.

He also said the decision by Sinn Féin to abstain from Westminster and to start a guerilla war in 1919 against the British copper fastened partition and led to the setting up of the Stormont Parliament in 1920.

However, Mr Ó Cuív countered by suggesting that the Easter Rising saved thousands of Irish lives as it gave the Irish public the courage to resist conscription and recruitment to the British Army tailed off dramatically after the Rising.

Dominion status for Ireland would have meant involvement in the second World War, he said, and thousands more Irish lives would have been lost.

"If Britain had the commitment to democracy that John Bruton claims it had, why in 1918, when the Irish people clearly voted in a democratic election organised by the British themselves for independence, didn't they just say that would accede to the wishes of the people?"

Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly said Easter Rising descendents are "upset and angered" by Mr Bruton's comments.

Mr Daly said it gave the impression that the lives they sacrificed for Ireland were in vain.

He called on the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys to clarify her views on the Rising.

Ms Humphreys is the chair of the committee organising the various commemorations remembering the revolutionary period and the first World War.

Mr Daly said: “It would seem deeply inappropriate for the chair of the group tasked with organising the commemorations to hold the same views as those expressed by the former leader of her party this morning.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times