Myers And 1916
Sir, - I was horrified to read the statement by Kevin Myers (An Irishman's Diary, August 26th) that Sean McEntee, who was subsequently a prominent Minister in various Fianna Fail governments, "shot two unarmed captives in the back, quite casually and coldly in Castlebellingham in 1916". What an appalling slur on the reputation of a man who is no longer alive to defend himself by way of libel writ or otherwise.
Where did Myers get this yarn from? Would he trouble himself to consult the record of the court martial published in the "Irish Times History of the Rising". Accounts by witnesses of what exactly happened are pretty confusing. Shots were indeed fired, by accident or otherwise, but Major Kimber, a prosecuting officer at the trial never alleged that McEntee shot anyone in the back! Indeed he never claimed that McEntee fired any shot al all! Lieutenant Dunville who recovered from his injuries and other police witnesses who gave evidence never asserted that McEntee fired any shots.
All this reminds me of the time when Kevin claimed that British prisoners of war were murdered in the GPO in 1916. This never happened and the British Army never alleged that it did.
In the rest of the article which he wrote, there was the expected denounciation of the 1916 leaders who were allegedly anti-democratic because they never stood for election. Does Kevin not understand that in those days there was no democracy? Women had no votes. In fact the 1916 Proclamation stated clearly that the Provisional Government would give votes to women so that a fully democratic government could be elected and the true voice of all the people heard. Such an election took place in 1918 (although women had to be 30 to have a vote). We all know what happened, but it seems that this result has not pleased Kevin Myers.
He then refers to many casualties, among whom were 28 children, in the course of the 1916 Rising. Of course this is to be regretted and deplored, but more horrific were the deaths of tens of thousands of children from TB and other infectious diseases in the rotten tenements of Dublin that existed at that time aided and abetted by the British Empire and their lackeys here in Ireland. Pearse and Connolly fought to end that and to create a new Ireland where the weak and under privileged would be helped and protected.
I think it is about time that Kevin Myers realised that everybody accepts that all war is deplorable. But the prime and root cause of war, terrorism and injustice in this world was the action of the Ruling Juntas in the capitals of Europe, who without any democratic mandate decided to build up empires and plunder and exploit their newly acquired territories and subject peoples. I wonder can Kevin Myers produce for us any evidence that the unfortunate working men of England, let alone their wives, ever gave any sanction to the crazy Imperial Schemes and Military Adventures of the British Establishment in Ireland and throughout the world?
Historians in the future will readily agree that the 1916 Rising and its effects on peoples minds was a mortal blow to the prestige of the empire. From that event we can trace the steady decline of Imperialism in general and British Imperialism in particular. Does Myers regret this development?
The 1916 leaders had as much right to challenge the British Empire as George Washington had in America. And Kevin can rest assured that long after we are dead and soon forgotten, the names of the 1916 leaders will continue to command respect and to inspire freedom loving people throughout the entire world. Agus sin e an rud tabhactach. - Yours, etc.,
Padraig O Cuanachain,
Dun an Oir,
Sean Bothar na hEochaille,