Coping with contentious centenaries


A chara, – Patsy McGarry notes in his article “Centenaries ahead likely to be most contentious” (Opinion, November 2nd) that the Sinn Féin manifesto for the general election of 1918 stated that it would use “any and every means available to render impotent the power of England to hold Ireland in subjection by military force or otherwise.”

He goes on to mention the question occasionally raised by some as to whether or not the War of Independence was morally and democratically justified in the light of this statement. One should also note, however, that the first Dáil subsequently endorsed the campaign of the IRA undertaken as the legitimate army of the revolutionary Republic.

In the matter of what the people voted on in 1918, it would be somewhat naive, to say the least, to think that the statement quoted from the Sinn Féin manifesto could not be taken to cover a war of independence. What manifesto could have been allowed by the British authorities to ask explicitly for such an endorsement and what would have been the fate of Sinn Féin in 1918 if it had issued such a request?

There are of course those who constantly search for ways of de-legitimising the Irish struggle for freedom in those heroic years of the revolution stretching from 1916 to 1921. However, it really holds little water to assert that there is any substantiation for their position on the basis referred to. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.