War and commemoration


A chara, – The current debate about “the mantle of 1916” (Editorial, August 6th) and where it sits in the national narrative has the potential to be a positive development. In 1966, as a schoolchild, I was chosen to read the Easter Proclamation as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Rereading it recently I have to say it still packs a powerful rhetorical punch. Its call to Irishmen and Irishwomen to rally to its message of religious and civil liberty, its guarantee of equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and in particular its promise to cherish all the children of the nation equally – these ideals still have a powerful relevance in an Ireland beset by problems of social inequality and alienation.

If we leave aside the militaristic overtones which inevitably arose from its contemporary context, we can also find renewed relevance in the message of the need for reconciliation between our nationalist and unionist communities. The current debate needs to focus on these issues rather than which party may emerge as the true heirs of 1916. – Is mise,



Co Wicklow

Sir, – It’s a little sickening to see the politicians and the military people commemorating (almost to glorification) the 100th anniversary of the debacle that was the first World War. These commemorations imply that wars are inevitable and that the participants (those who do the fighting, killing and dying as opposed to those who direct operations from a safe distance) have been engaged in something useful and beneficial to humankind. In reality wars only serve to expose all the base instincts of humankind. Humans have shown that civilised behavior and democratic practices can resolve disputes peacefully without resorting to war. Enough of these commemorations. Yours, etc,


Offington Drive,

Dublin 13

Sir, – Henry Counihan (August 7th) derides the men of violence circa 1968/1969 for hijacking the national flag while simultaneously proposing that we use events commemorating the men of violence circa 1916-1921 as a means to take it back. – Yours, etc,


Lausanne Road,

London N8 0HJ