Did Rising herald an ongoing civil war?
Sir, – It is a pity that your correspondents (August 5th), rather than contesting the arithmetic of the 1918 election and other well-worn issues, did not deal with the substantive point of Niall Holohan’s thought-provoking article (“Rising should be seen as start of ongoing civil war”, Opinion and Analysis, August 3rd).
This is, sadly, that the Easter Rising “added to the deep divisions between nationalists and unionists which – at least in the case of Northern Ireland – remain unresolved”. I do not see how anybody knowledgeable about 20th-century Irish history could disagree with that statement.
Niall Holohan rightly pays tribute to the inspiring idealism of those involved in the 1916 Rising. But it is an undeniable fact that the 1916 rebels were the first group to use actual violence to achieve their ends (as opposed to the threat of violence introduced by the Ulster Volunteers) in the 1912-1922 period, and this violence in pursuit of an all-Ireland republic was reprised in the 1930s, 1950s, and most horrifically between 1970 and 1997.
Unfortunately I believe the result is that we are as far away from a united Ireland (if not farther) than at any time in the past century. In this situation, I agree with Niall Holohan that the best we can hope for from the forthcoming commemorations is that they be used to recognise the tragic 100-year conflict between the two main traditions on this island and thus help to remove “some of the bitterness and antagonism that exist so strongly to this day between many elements of republicanism and unionism”. – Yours, etc,
Rathmines, Dublin 6.