President praises John Redmond as a ‘patriot and courageous politician’

Event held to mark centenary of ex-Irish Parliamentary Party leader’s death

President Michael D Higgins has described John Redmond as a "patriot and a courageous politician who sought to do what he thought was right in the best interests of the people".

Mr Higgins paid tribute to the former Irish Parliamentary Party leader at an event at Wexford town library organised to commemorate the centenary of Redmond's death.

The event was supposed to have happened in March but was postponed because of the bad weather.

The President said Redmond had followed in a line of constitutional nationalists who had won concessions from the British government which had improved the lot of ordinary Irish people.


Redmond was chairman of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1900 to 1918. He died on March 6th, 1918 at the age of 61.

The President said Redmond, like his predecessors Daniel O'Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell, had come in his time to be seen as "representing the Irish nation itself".

Yet let us recognise that there was no simple or linear path to our national self-determination, and it was the Irish Party who carried the struggle for very many years

Mr Higgins continued: “For though he is now often remembered as a great parliamentarian, both in his mastery of procedure and of oratory, he was, let us recall, the leader of one of the great movements of thought and action of the nineteenth century.


“It was one that, at its height, was capable of wresting from the British parliament concessions that seemed unimaginable to contemporaries and they left tangible results in housing for labourers, university independence and opposition to vicarious Coercion Acts.”

Mr Higgins acknowledged that Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party could not contain the forces which eventually led to the party’s demise at the hands of Sinn Féin.

The President also said Irish independence could not have been won by parliamentary manoeuvres alone.

“Our own war of independence was as necessary as any of those wars of national liberation fought by other peoples,” Mr Higgins said. “Yet let us recognise that there was no simple or linear path to our national self-determination, and it was the Irish Party who carried the struggle for very many years, winning respect and admiration for the cause of Home Rule.”

President Higgins later lay a wreath at Redmond’s mausoleum in St John’s Graveyard in Wexford town.


Speaking on behalf of the Government, Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe told the crowd it was time to acknowledge the "idealism and vision of this unassuming principled man".

The ceremony was attended by the members of the Redmond family including his great-grandchildren John and Mary Green and Barbara Lockyer, along with his great-great grandchild Lucy Green.

Mary Green said Redmond must have felt in 1918 that his life’s work had come to nothing, given what happened after the Easter Rising.

"In the end he was written out of history. Today, with the benefit of a long view, we can take a fairer view of is achievements. He should be remembered as a man who wanted reconciliation between the different traditions in Ireland, a man who wanted friendly relations with Britain."

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times