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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
April 15, 2006
O'Loan: Most UVF Men Were Security Agents
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams carry's the coffin of prominent Republican and Sinn Fein member Siobhan O' Hanlon from St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in west Belfast, Northern Ireland, Friday, April, 14, 2006. O'Hanlon who helped in the talks that led to the Good Friday Peace agreement, died on Wedneday after a long battle with cancer. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
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News About Ireland & The Irish
ST 04/16/06 ‘Most UVF Men Were Agents’
SF 04/15/06 Blair Challenged To Come Clean On British Collusion
BT 04/15/06 'Negative' Paisley Slammed
AP 04/15/06 Adams: Party Won‘T Force Protestants
BT 04/15/06 Church Leader Defends 'Snub' To Catholics
BT 04/15/06 Family Is Satisfied At Provos' Apology
ST 04/16/06 Focus: I Don't Want You
SB 04/16/06 Tide Turns In US Immigration Debate
AP 04/16/06 Peace Allows Painful Memory For Irish
BN 04/15/06 Dublin Prepares For Easter Rising Commemoration
ST 04/16/06 Sale Protest Leaves Sinn Fein Divided
ST 04/16/06 Ireland: Rising To Meet Its Destiny
ST 04/16/06 Dublin 1916? No, Try Young Cassidy 1965
BB 04/15/06 Opin: Easter Rising Still Holds Imagination
SH 04/15/06 Opin: Facts Of Rising Open To Interpretation By Both Sides
BT 04/15/06 Opin: Cashing In On An Unlikely Band Of Brothers
ST 04/15/06 Opin: You Say Londonderry, I Say Tomato
‘Most UVF Men Were Agents’
NORTHERN IRELAND’s police ombudsman has found that most of
the UVF’s senior leaders were operating as security force
agents in the 1990s, writes Liam Clarke.
The revelation has emerged as part of an investigation by
Nuala O’Loan into the murder of Raymond McCord Jr. in north
Belfast by the UVF members to cover up a drugs deal in
November 1997. McCord’s father, also Raymond, claims his
son’s killers were protected because they were police
The names of several UVF police agents were given to Bertie
Ahern by McCord Snr last month and the taoiseach has said
he will raise the issue with Tony Blair. McCord told Ahern
that even the UVF brigadier general was an informant.
Despite being penetrated at the highest level by the PSNI,
the UVF has refused to disarm and said last week that it
intended to be the last paramilitary organisation in
Northern Ireland to disband. The British government refuses
to recognise its ceasefire.
The ombudsman is believed to have uncovered a systemic
failure of intelligence handling and dissemination,
although it is unlikely any police officers will be
charged. A preliminary report has been forwarded to the
director of the Public Prosecution Service.
The former leader of the UVF in the Mount Vernon area is
central to the investigation. He cannot be named because he
is before the courts on unrelated charges. He was known to
his handlers as agent 20/1240.
One of Agent 20/1240’s police handlers, Trevor McIlwrath,
was also handling several other agents including Ken
Barrett, the West Belfast UDA member who murdered solicitor
Agent 20/1240’s first known murder was in 1993 when he
killed Sharon McKenna, a Catholic taxi driver. He became a
prolific killer, and heavily involved in drugs.
A PSNI spokesperson said new intelligence systems are now
in place and many informants have been dispensed with.
Blair Challenged To Come Clean On British Collusion
Published: 15 April, 2006
As part of a speech to the annual Easter Commemoration in
Portadown, Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Padraig McLochlainn
challenged Tony Blair to come clean on the British States
role in the murder of citizens in both jurisdictions on
Cllr. McLochlainn said:
"Here in North Armagh the nationalist and republican
community know only too well the effects of the British
sponsored loyalist death squads who stalked this area for
"In my own home town of Buncrana we also know of that cost.
My predecessor as a Sinn Féin councillor in the town, Eddie
Fullerton, was gunned down by one of the same Brit
"The Fullerton family in common with so many others in
areas like this have had to rely upon their own strength
and courage as they have sought to break down the barriers
to the truth. Shamefully in the Fullerton case it is not
just the British who have questions to answer. Elements of
the 26 County system have still many questions to answer
about the events of that evening in 1991. But as with all
of these cases brave and courageous families, supported by
communities who know the truth, will not allow the lies to
"I would send out from this gathering today a clear
challenge to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair as he
approaches the end of his time in office. It is now time to
come clean on Britain's dirty war in our country. If he
fails to do so then a linkage to the murder machine which
was planned, co-ordinated, funded and supported by previous
British Labour and Tory governments will forever tarnish
him and his legacy." ENDS
'Negative' Paisley Slammed
By Alf McCeary
15 April 2006
The Church of Ireland Gazette has criticised DUP leader the
Rev Ian Paisley for his negativity about the statement
issued by London and Dublin last week on the Assembly.
The periodical says in its latest edition that the Assembly
stalemate could not have been allowed to continue, and that
both the Irish and British governments were right to set
the November deadline.
The Gazette added: "It is a pity, however, that the Rev Ian
Paisley chose so swiftly to be so negative about the inter-
"While the DUP might, after considered reflection, have
come to the same conclusion, at least the party could have
set an example by stopping to think about how to make the
most of the political opportunity."
The Gazette also claimed that "Dr Paisley's criticism of
the Republic of Ireland's role in the evolving of the
political future in Northern Ireland was unhelpful. The
tragedy is that Northern Ireland's politicians have not yet
come to an agreement on how they can actually sit down
together in devolved government."
The paper added that the Irish government and "not least Mr
Ahern himself, had expended " very great energy in
contributing to the peace process."
The paper warned that the greatest responsibility for
progress "now rests with the republican movement. The
continued existence of the IRA is an impediment to a
happily shared future for Northern Ireland, and its members
and friends must know what now has to be done."
Last week Primate Robin Eames warned against a "knee-jerk"
reaction to the inter-Governmental statement and asked
people to take time to consider it.
Adams: Party Won‘T Force Protestants
Staff and agencies
15 April, 2006
By Shawn Pogatchnik, 39 Minutes Ago
DUBLIN, Ireland - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams told
supporters Saturday that his Irish Republican Army -linked
party will not force Northern Ireland‘s Protestants into a
united Ireland, but it was demanding that they share power
within the British territory.
The legislature wields the critical power to elect, or
block, the formation of a joint Roman Catholic-Protestant
administration. Such power-sharing was a central goal of
the U.S.-brokered Good Friday pact of 1998, but fell apart
in 2002 over an IRA spying scandal.
"We will be there for one reason and one reason only: the
election of a government in line with the Good Friday
agreement," said Adams, who challenged the dominant
Protestant politician, Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian
Paisley, to form a coalition alongside him.
He said Paisley would only be able to govern in Northern
Ireland alongside Sinn Fein.
Adams said that, while Irish republicans wanted Britain out
of Northern Ireland‘s affairs, "unionists have a different
opinion. That‘s fine. Let‘s talk about these matters.
Church Leader Defends 'Snub' To Catholics
By Alf McCreary
15 April 2006
Presbyterian Moderator the Rt Rev Dr Harry Uprichard last
night defended his decision not to take part in an inter-
church service to commemorate the award of the George Cross
to the RUC.
The Presbyterian Church will be represented instead by the
former Moderator the Very Rev Dr Ken Newell.
The service, in St. Anne's Parish Church, Dungannon, on
June 4, is the fourth commemoration service since the
honour was awarded to the RUC.
Speaking from Washington DC last night where he is on a
church tour, Dr Uprichard said: "My decision was taken
because of the nature of the event which is an inter-church
"This was in no way a slight on the work of the former RUC
or of those who served in it.
"I appreciate the fine work that has been done by the
"However, as a number of Roman Catholics served in the
force it seemed to me only fair that there would be in an
element of joint worship in the Dungannon service.
"I would point out, however, that I made it clear during my
term of office that I would not be able in all conscience
to take part in joint worship, and that has been my policy.
"I know that some Presbyterians will not agree with me, but
I appeal to them to understand my point of view, and that I
have taken my decision according to my conscience.
"I would also point out that steps have been taken to
represent the Presbyterian Church at the service."
Dr Uprichard has followed a rigid personal policy of
declining invitations of this nature.
However, the Moderator's move is set to again disappoint
and sadden many Presbyterians and Catholics.
Canon Derek Swann, the Church of Ireland rector, said: "I
have to respect these are his sincerely held views, and I
am sure he will respect my right to disagree."
Dr Uprichard comes from the conservative wing of the
Presbyterian Church and made it clear even before his
election last year that he would have theological
difficulty in attending inter-church services.
For years the Presbyterian Church has provided substitutes
for Moderators who feel unable to take part in joint
worship, though many rank-and-file Presbyterians may be
questioning Dr Uprichard's decision not to take part in a
service being held in a Protestant Church under the
Family Is Satisfied At Provos' Apology
By Debra Douglas
15 April 2006
The family of a man killed in a bomb more than three
decades ago have told of their relief that the IRA has now
apologised for his death.
Eugene McQuaid (right) from Newry, was killed at Killeen
security checkpoint on the Belfast to Dublin Road in
October 1974. At the time it was reported that the 35-year-
old father-of-five had been carrying mortar bombs on his
motorcycle and that one had accidentally exploded.
His family consistently denied this was the case. Earlier
this week, the IRA said that Mr McQuaid had not been one of
their members, nor was he on an operation for them.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on behalf of the family
last night, his son-in-law Ciaran Tumilty said they
welcomed the move.
"The family feel relieved that his name has finally been
cleared after all these years," he said.
"His children have lived in the shadow of these allegations
for most of their lives but now the truth is out there.
After 32 years, they finally have closure on the whole
episode. They always knew he was innocent and now it has
"His wife Maureen now feels a sense of relief - she was
extremely emotional when she heard the IRA statement but
now she is happy her husband's innocence has been made
The statement was released after an internal probe into Mr
McQuaid's death. It offered 'sincere apologies' to the
McQuaid family for the 'heartache and trauma that our
actions have caused'.
The Sunday Times April 16, 2006
Focus: I Don't Want You
America, famed for its promise of a new life for
immigrants, is no longer so welcoming. Enda Leahy and Sean
O’Driscoll follow the debate
A hush settled across the American Senate as Edward Kennedy
rose to speak. After three days of debate, a cross-party
compromise he had helped broker granting 11m illegal
immigrants leave to stay in America had collapsed.
“What’s at stake here is not just our security but our
humanity,” Kennedy told the Senate. “We can’t set that
He cited the case of an Irish woman, Sheilah, an
undocumented immigrant living on Cape Cod for the past 10
years. “Now her whole life is in the United States,” said
Kennedy. “Her citizen brother is fighting in Iraq, but upon
petitioning for her, he found he had a 15- to 20-year wait.
Sheilah listened to her grandfather’s funeral mass through
a cellphone because she wasn’t able to travel to Ireland.”
The impassioned speech was followed by one of the biggest
public demonstrations America had ever seen, larger than
those for Vietnam and the civil rights movement. The issue
of undocumented immigrants has become as important to
American voters now as Iraq, according to polls last week.
Kennedy, a Democrat, and John McCain, a likely presidential
candidate for the Republicans, had put forward jointly a
bill that would allow illegals such as Sheilah to carry on
with their lives in America. But it never got to a vote and
thousands of illegal Irish immigrants continue to be pawns
in a debate started by the events of September 11 and the
“war on terror”. They are stranded in political limbo,
facing ever-increasing attempts by the authorities to
According to Niall O’Dowd, the chairman of the Irish Lobby
for Immigration Reform (ILIR), Sheilah’s story is far from
unique. “One of the saddest moments in the debate was
Kennedy speaking about this Irish woman,” said O’Dowd. “It
was like so many stories I’ve heard, of people who’ve been
here a long time and created their lives here, and you have
to feel for them. The human dimension of this is something
that politicians often miss.”
The undocumented Irish make up a mere 0.001% of America’s
illegal population, but they have nevertheless persuaded
the country’s most senior politicians to support them
publicly. But will they win, and anyway what right do they
have to demand American citizenship, having chosen to live
on the wrong side of the law for so long?
DERMOT BYRNE’S 36th birthday is tomorrow. That’s also the
day his driver’s licence is due for renewal. Under New York
law, he can no longer get a licence without a social
security number, an impediment that could damage his five-
man construction company. He has decided to keep on
“I’ll keep going until I’m caught,” he said. “I’ve heard
that the first offence is a $45 (€37) fine. The second is a
lot more serious and the third could well be jail. I’ll
stop on the first offence and see what to do from there.”
He has registered the family car and his work truck in the
name of his Carlow-born wife, Eileen, who is also illegal,
but who does not face her licence renewal for another two
years. Byrne is so worried about immigration crackdowns
that he frets about picking people up at airports because
he might be asked for identification. His four employees –
two Guatemalans, a Mexican and a Trinidadian, are all
undocumented and without drivers licences.
He has not returned to Ireland in 10 years, having missed a
funeral and the Irish weddings of his two sisters and
brother, siblings he has not seen since he left.
He was among millions whose hopes were raised by the
McCain-Kennedy bill last month only to be dashed again.
An estimated 7.9m people have migrated to America in the
past five years, half of them illegal, more than in any
other five-year period in American history.
After years of the US turning a blind eye, illegal
immigrants such as Byrne now face the wrath of the new
Department of Homeland Security. Of particular concern is
last year’s Real ID Act, which will prohibit undocumented
people from getting driving licences nationwide from 2008.
Many states, including California, already operate this
Other threats include “workplace enforcement” — rules and
technology making it impossible for employers to hire
illegal immigrants. New rules brought in over the last year
by individual states, including California, have made legal
immigration status necessary to renew driving licencesahead
of the 2008 federal deadline. The final straw, which became
the focus of the outrage that led to countrywide
demonstrations this month, was a bill that included
provisions to criminalise and deport all illegal immigrants
and to build a 750-mile (1,200km) wall across the Mexican
border. The bill would also make it a criminal offence to
help illegal immigrants.
The debate now revolves around whether to create a system
of “guest workers” without citizenship or voting rights, or
to accept those who have been in America for many years and
grant them amnesty.
While the illegal Irish are far outnumbered by undocumented
Hispanics, the Irish are punching well above their weight
in the campaign. Contrary to estimates of 40,000 illegal
Irish in America, recent research indicates the number is
Piaras MacEinri, a migration expert at University College
Cork, said: “The best information I have is that the figure
is 10,000 at most. The vast majority of Irish people who
went to the States in the late 1980s either came back or
Mary Brennan, 38, from Listowel, Co Kerry, an illegal
immigrant in New York for 15 years, was one of more than
2,000 Irish campaigners who lobbied in Washington on March
8. “One of the Senate staffers said he thought all the
illegals were Mexican,” she said. “It’s important to show
the world that we’re there too.”
She was last in Ireland four years ago when her brother
died. “I managed to slip back in. I just had to go home for
the funeral, but I never knew until the last moment if I’d
get back in again,” she said.
Brennan is hoping an agreement can be worked out before
next September, in time for her to be a bridesmaid at a
wedding. “I belong in the States, but if the debate drags
on for another three years I think we’ll pack up and leave.
A lot of people will,” she said.
Political commentators reckon the row will drag on longer
than she hopes, with Senate elections in November and
presidential election campaigns beginning next year.
Last month Hillary Clinton, whose unofficial presidential
campaign has already kicked into gear, chose an Irish pro-
immigration rally as a means of criticising Republicans for
advocating a “police state”.
Where many politicians have been wary of appearing too
supportive of Hispanic immigrants, the Irish — white,
English-speaking and with about 40m Irish-American voters
behind them — have become a safe way into the debate.
Meanwhile the Irish government’s efforts, including direct
funding of lobby groups such as the ILIR, have even been
noticed by the president.
But while many economic migrants from Mexico and Latin
America have desperate reasons to stay in America and find
a better life, critics say Irish demands are often less
valid. MacEinri, who supports attempts to legalise the
undocumented Irish, says the issue is shrouded in
“It’s interesting that the reaction back here in Ireland is
so unsympathetic, and sometimes quite savagely so,” he
said. “Perhaps because we have a problem with migrants
here, suddenly we have no sympathy with our own people
abroad. We seem to think we have special rights to America,
because we built the place or something, but we don’t.”
MacEinri says, contrary to popular opinion, America has a
very progressive immigration policy. “But they don’t owe
the Irish any favours. When you start saying they do, as
some Irish in America do, it borders on special pleading on
grounds of whiteness.”
WITH eight days of recess before the Senate sits again,
life for Caroline Doherty McKenna from Killybegs, Co
Donegal, has returned to normal after the heady days of
million-man demonstrations. But there are constant
reminders of an American security apparatus circling ever
“Even flying within the country is risky because sometimes
they ask for more ID than just the driver’s licence,” she
said. When her husband Brian’s licence expired recently,
much of her freedom went with it.
“It’s difficult because I have to drive all the time. I’m
the driver at weekends and I have to rush back to meet him
during the weekdays. My own licence will be gone in two
years anyway,” she said.
McKenna has not been back to Ireland for almost seven years
and has missed the funerals of her grandmother, grandfather
and uncle. “It was upsetting,” she said. “We had to make a
decision on each funeral and my parents told me not to
chance it because I had a good life in America and I
shouldn’t take the risk of losing it.”
James Carafano, an analyst at the Heritage Institute, a
right-wing Washington think tank, advocates the expulsion
of the likes of McKenna, and says that the options for the
American government are few. “There are voices on two
sides, pro-immigration and border zealots, and the bulk of
Americans are both,” he said. “We have a growing economy
and falling demographics; we need these workers. It’s not a
question of kicking 15m people out of the country — we need
them. But right now there is no penalty for being here
unlawfully. People are choosing to be here illegally
because it’s easier.”
Carafano says three deterrents are gaining support among
Republican conservatives. “One is no amnesty. The second is
to go to zero ‘catch and release’, so when we catch someone
violating immigration law we just deport them,” he said.
“The third is workplace enforcement, that if you’re not
entitled legally to have a job you can’t keep it. Over a
period of years, that population of 10m or 15m people here
illegally would just dwindle away.”
But with the issue now at the top of the political agenda,
the immigrant vote is too important to alienate.
The next two weeks will decide whether their tenuous
existence in the shadow of the law will be decided quickly
after an urgent debate, or, as seems more likely, whether
they will remain a political football for the next two
Tide Turns In US Immigration Debate
16 April 2006 By Niall Stanage
When Irish campaigners made their way to Washington DC last
month to press their case for more generous treatment of
illegal immigrants, few observers gave them much chance of
The protesters numbered about 2,400.The sceptics said the
obstacles blocking their way, including an apparently
widespread belief among native-born Americans that illegal
immigration was endangering their national security, were
too high to surmount.
The picture looks very different now. Recent weeks have
seen a series of tumultuous events in the immigration
debate in the United States, with senators leaping into
action, hundreds of thousands of Hispanics taking to the
streets for massive demonstrations, and a perceptible shift
in the centre of political gravity on the issue.
The tide turned so fast that, ten days ago, the Senate
looked set to approve legislation that would have provided
millions of illegal aliens with a path to US citizenship
and created a ‘guest worker’ programme to enable 325,000
non-nationals to enter America each year.
The deal fell apart at the last minute amid recriminations
between Republicans and Democrats.
Nevertheless, the Senate is expected to return to the
subject when its spring recess ends in a week’s time. Many
immigrants’ advocates believe that a bill akin to the
earlier proposal will eventually be passed.
Irish and Irish-American activists contend that their
actions played a key role in making the political
atmosphere more conducive to progress. Although Irish
illegal immigrants represent a drop in the ocean – they
amount to only an estimated 25,000 of the 11 million
‘illegals’ said to be in the US - some evidence suggests
they have better access to the corridors of power than
other ethnic groups.
For instance, Senator Charles Schumer of New York first
proclaimed his support for liberalisation of immigration
laws at an Irish-orientated event.
The New York Times noted that Schumer and his colleague
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, along with other
heavyweights like Edward Kennedy and John McCain, addressed
the Irish crowd in Washington last month, but not a much
larger Hispanic audience who rallied the previous day.
‘‘The Irish took the lead in going to Capitol Hill to lobby
members of Congress. The Irish began to change the dynamic
of the whole debate,” Grant Lally, president of the Irish
Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), told The Sunday
Business Post. The ILIR organised last month’s Washington
Other ethnic groups ultimately marshalled bigger numbers
and so created a bigger impact, however.
The traditional - and understandable - reticence of illegal
immigrants to take part in public protests has fallen away
When a ‘‘national day of action for immigrant justice’’ was
called on Monday, 180,000 people demonstrated in
Washington, 100,000 each in New York and Phoenix, and
50,000 each in Atlanta and Houston.
The previous day, an immigrants’ event in Dallas drew a
crowd estimated at 500,000.
‘‘We never anticipated it getting this big,’’ a Dallas
police spokesman told reporters. ‘‘The estimates were
anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000, and they kept coming and
A rally in Los Angeles in late March also brought about
500,000 people onto the streets, making it one of the
biggest gatherings in the city’s history.
The crowds in all these instances were predominantly
Hispanic, though in some cities, particularly New York,
many nationalities and ethnic groups were in evidence. The
marchers said they were motivated, not just by hope for
liberal reform, but by fear and anger about the possible
passage of more restrictive legislation.
Illegal immigration is a deeply divisive issue in America.
On one side are advocates for immigrants, who argue that
‘illegals’ who work hard and contribute to society should
be allowed to legalise their status. They have formed a
loose and sometimes uneasy alliance with representatives of
the business community, who assert that the US labour
market needs a steady supply of immigrants.
On the other side of the debate are those who contend that
allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens amounts to
offering an amnesty to lawbreakers. Some, but not all, of
those people also believe that the ongoing influx of
millions of Mexicans and other Hispanics will change the
cultural character of the US in ways they regard as
Until the past month, conservatives had seemed to be in the
ascendant. Late last year, the House of Representatives
passed legislation that would have reclassified illegal
immigrants as criminals and threatened stiff punishments
against those who helped them remain inside America’s
However, on March 22, in a move that showed how the sands
were shifting, Hillary Clinton decried that bill, arguing
that it would ‘‘literally criminalise the Good Samaritan
and probably even Jesus himself’’.
Last week, the two most senior Republicans in Congress
backed away from the House bill, saying they had no
intention of subjecting illegal immigrants to prosecution
‘‘The House did not pass a comprehensive immigration bill,”
said Grant Lally, who once ran for Congress as a
Republican, and remains well connected within the party.
‘‘That bill was about national security and I think there
are tremendous regrets about some of the provisions
contained within it.”
The proposal upon which the Senate almost agreed was a lot
more liberal, though it also included measures to tighten
It would have given the estimated seven million ‘illegals’
who have been in the US for five years or more a clear
course to citizenship, subject to certain conditions
including the payment of a fine.
Those who have been in the US for between two and five
years would have had to reapply for a temporary work visa
at a border crossing.
They would also have had to complete a longer, more arduous
process if they wanted to become citizens.
The approximately one million people who have been in the
US for less than two years would officially have had to
leave the country - whether they would actually have done
so is another question - and then hope to win places on the
temporary worker programme.
The Senate deal foundered on a dispute about amendments to
the bill. But Lally is among those who profess confidence
that an agreement will be reached soon.
‘‘I am cautiously optimistic,” he said. ‘‘I think senators
in both parties realise that people want a bill passed.
There is a great deal of leadership support on both sides.”
Lally emphasised that the intertwined histories of Ireland
and America lent Irish activists ongoing leverage on the
‘‘The Irish experience has been central to the growth of
this country,” he said. ‘‘To take a xenophobic approach to
the Irish would be like attacking the essence of America.”
Other concerns have also played a part in the move towards
immigration reform. There are approximately 42 million
Hispanics in the US. Many are already legal and of voting
But millions of others are under 18 or not yet citizens.
When they do get voting rights, they will immediately
become a huge and vital constituency.
‘‘Today we march!” chanted some protesters at a recent
rally, ‘‘tomorrow we vote!”
Peace Allows Painful Memory For Irish
Easter Rising to be celebrated for first time in 40 years
DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- Imagine a United States that felt
uncomfortable celebrating the Fourth of July. Or a France
that greeted Bastille Day with mute embarrassment. That has
been the strange story of modern Ireland.
But it's about to change in historic fashion.
On Sunday, for the first time in 40 years, the government
will preside over a major celebration of the Easter Rising,
the 1916 insurrection in Dublin that inspired Ireland's war
of independence from Britain.
The timing and scale reflect a recognition that, with
Northern Ireland's bloodshed ebbing, it's again safe to
celebrate the memory of that earlier bloodshed -- that an
event linked in the public mind to the outlawed Irish
Republican Army can be reclaimed for the whole nation.
"Just as nobody should seek to own Irish history, nobody
should seek to disown it either," Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern said in opening a National Museum exhibit of the
rebellion, the 1919-21 war of independence, and the
fledgling Irish state's civil war of 1922-23.
Sunday's commemoration will be highlighted by a military
and police parade past government leaders at the General
Post Office, the iconic headquarters for the weeklong
rebellion whose marble columns still bear bullet marks from
90 years ago.
The Rising was mounted by about 1,500 revolutionaries who
seized key British government buildings in Dublin and
waited for British soldiers, many of them Irishmen, to
shell and shoot them out.
"In the name of God and of the dead generations from which
she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland,
through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes
for her freedom," said the rebel manifesto.
A week later, about 450 civilians, soldiers, police and
rebels were dead. As they were led away in handcuffs, the
rebel survivors were spat upon and cursed by their fellow
Dubliners, many of them wives of the more than 140,000
Irishmen fighting and dying in British uniform on the
Western Front of World War I.
'A terrible beauty'
Yet a pathetic failure became a political triumph,
historians agree, because the British executed 16 rebel
commanders and subordinates, transforming them into martyrs
and radicalizing the Irish electorate in favor of guerrilla
warfare for independence. "A terrible beauty is born," went
an immortal line in W.B. Yeats' poem "Easter 1916."
But arguments abound on practically everything else, fueled
by the fact that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the two biggest
parties of modern Ireland, are descended from the political
forces that formed opposite sides in the civil war to come.
Fianna Fail's founding father, Eamon de Valera, led the
opposition to the 1921 treaty that forged the new southern
Irish state -- a pact that, to critics, kept Ireland too
symbolically tied to Britain. Fine Gael's forebears
accepted the treaty and crushed de Valera's rebels. Yet it
was de Valera who would become independent Ireland's
Another major party of today, Labour, celebrates a faction
in the rebel ranks that hoped the Rising would spark a
And then there's Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that
claims direct descent from the rebels. Its leaders are
addressing more than 100 commemorative events across the
island this weekend, many by the graves of long-dead
Ireland's parties are engaged "in a scramble for the bones
of the patriot dead," said Diarmaid Ferriter, a history
lecturer at Dublin City University.
Debate lives on
Over the past week, history's what-ifs were fought out in
newspapers, public debates and pubs: Was the Rising
necessary? Or could Ireland have negotiated peacefully for
gradual freedom? Does support for the rebels mean support
for the IRA? Does criticism of the rebels equal an absence
Had the island not been partitioned in such disputed
circumstances "there would be no sense of discomfort now
about remembering the beginnings of independent Ireland,"
columnist John Waters wrote in The Irish Times.
Ireland's political establishment stopped celebrating the
Rising after the IRA started a campaign of bombing and
shooting in hopes of ending British rule of Northern
Ireland. The IRA called a cease-fire in 1997 and last year
That farewell to IRA arms has made an official
commemoration of bloody 1916 possible again, analysts
But they say Fianna Fail, Ahern's long-dominant party, is
also concerned that peace in Northern Ireland has boosted
Sinn Fein's popularity south of the border. Some forecast
that the party, so long in the political wilderness, could
win enough parliamentary seats in elections next year to
hold the balance of power.
"Fianna Fail want to reclaim the legacy of 1916 because
they see Sinn Fein as a big electoral threat," said
political analyst Stephen Collins.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights
reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten, or redistributed.
Dublin Prepares For Easter Rising Commemoration
15/04/2006 - 17:40:23
Final preparations were being made in Dublin today for an
historic parade of Ireland’s Defence Forces marking the
1916 Easter Rising.
Up to 100,000 spectators are expected to line the city
centre streets tomorrow as the two hour military parade
winds its way towards the iconic GPO building on O’Connell
Street, where the rebellion began.
Some 2,500 members of the army, navy and air corps will
take part in what Taoiseach Bertie Ahern claimed should be
an inclusive commemoration of all those who died in the
Hundreds of invited guests, including relatives of those
who fought in the rebellion and British Ambassador Stewart
Eldon, will review the ceremony from a stand at the front
of the GPO.
But unionist politicians from the north have declined an
invitation to attend, insisting the 90th anniversary parade
will romanticise violent revolution.
Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist MLAs are angered
over what they believe is a glorification of the IRA’s
armed struggle, which left more than 3,000 people dead over
It is the first time in 40 years that a military parade has
been used to mark the 1916 Rising when revolutionary leader
read the proclamation of the Republic on the steps of the
The display was halted when the north became gripped by the
violence of the Troubles.
The day’s events begin with a wreath laying ceremony in
Kilmainham Gaol, lead by Mr Ahern, in memory of both
civilian and military deaths during the rebellion.
The parade will begin at Dublin Castle moving past the
front of Trinity College before crossing the River Liffey
on to the capital’s main thoroughfare O’Connell Street
where it will pause.
The tricolour on top of the GPO will be lowered to half-
mast before a military officer will read the Proclamation
in front of a 100-man guard of honour.
Mr Ahern will invite President Mary McAleese to lay a
wreath, the last post will sound and a minute’s silence
will be held.
The flag will be hoisted back to full mast before the
national anthem is played.
The parade will be made up of 2,500 personnel representing
the Army, the Air Corps and the Naval Service. Members of
the Irish UN Veterans
Association and the Organisation of Ex-Servicemen and Ex-
Service women will take part.
A contingent of officers from An Garda Siochana will also
march, representing the force’s role in UN Peacekeeping
Big screens have been erected along the route as viewing
restrictions are in place along O’Connell Street.
Due to roadworks in the area, and in a bid to prevent a
reoccurrence of the riots which erupted ahead of a march by
unionist victims of IRA violence in February, a large
section of the street is not open to the public.
Gardaí spent Friday inspecting drains in bid to ensure
tight security for the commemoration. The City Council was
also asked to seal all bins on the route.
Sale Protest Leaves Sinn Fein Divided
Controversy continues to dog Easter Rising celebrations as
day of big parade dawns
THEY are masters at maintaining party discipline, but
history has finally divided Sinn Fein’s vaunted unity.
When members of the party’s youth wing disrupted an auction
of republican artefacts last week, a former Sinn Fein
councillor was among the bidders.
Martin McManus from Antrim, once a party press officer, was
outraged when members of Ogra Shinn Fein burst into the
Adam’s auction rooms last week to disrupt the sale. He was
there to help bid for a 1798 document, and says other Sinn
Fein members and ex-republican prisoners were also in
Now McManus has called on his party to apologise in public
to family members of Thomas Clarke, one of the leaders of
the 1916 Easter Rising, who were also at the sale.
“It was a cheap political stunt,” the former councillor
said. “I was baffled and dismayed by what I saw. Some of
those young people were not educated, and not told the
truth about the people who were there. Somebody should be
made accountable for the hurt they caused. They should make
a public apology.”
Demonstrators from Ogra continued picketing the sale after
they were expelled.
The sale of 480 items, which raised €3.5m, was held to
coincide with the 90th anniversary of the rising. The
highest- profile item, a copy of The Soldier’s Song (Amhran
na Bhfiann) handwritten by its composer, sold for €760,000.
Afterwards, prominent members of Sinn Fein, including
Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, called on the government to
outlaw the sale of Irish historical documents on the open
market. The party says it will table a Dail motion to
prevent further sales.
But McManus is refusing to toe the party line. “This stuff
has been held by families for generations. They’re the ones
who have kept it alive while others have been squabbling
with each other,” he said.
“Old people who are devout republicans were insulted and
pushed about while they were at that auction. People like
Tom Clarke’s daughter were insulted by people yelling and
spitting over their shoulders, shouting about things they
know nothing about. They (Thomas Clarke’s family) donated
most of the family papers to the National Archives, €10m
Concerns that the important historical documents would be
bought by foreign investors were unfounded, according to
“If foreign speculators are going to outbid Irish
historians and enthusiasts then, yes, possibly, the
government should come in,” he said. “But that’s not
happening — there’s a misperception. Most of the people in
that auction were Sinn Fein supporters. I’m not so sure
that they were going to be Sinn Fein supporters when
Auctioneer Fonsie Mealy agreed that the majority of items
sold on Tuesday will stay in Ireland. “The government
bought €200,000 worth of Thomas Clarke goods,” he said.
“Other private sales will more than likely end up in Irish
institutions anyway. The vast majority will be held in
Some Clarke items did sell to private bidders, including
his 1916 medal, which sold for €105,000. A farewell note
from Clarke to his wife Kathleen was also sold to a private
bidder for €75,000, with the National Museum being an
McManus is involved in a society dedicated to William Orr,
the Presbyterian United Irishman who came from Antrim and
was hanged in 1797. One of the items in Tuesday’s auction
was a death notice referring to Orr’s execution. McManus
helped a businessman buy it for €3,600 and it will now go
on public display in Antrim.
“I’ve had historians on the phone already, and Philip Orr,
a direct descendant. They’re all really happy to see this
coming home,” said McManus. “I spoke to a couple of Sinn
Fein people inside the auction, in particular a chairperson
of a cumann in the north. Like myself they were dismayed at
people in Ogra Shinn.”
“I love my Irish heritage and history and this is above
politics. I was a press officer for a good decade — if I
had pulled a stroke like that on my own people I would be
Earlier this month, Ogra was criticised for a stink bomb
protest it staged at a healthcare conference in Dublin’s
Berkeley Court hotel. Members of the public called RTE’s
Liveline programme to say that the stink bombs would be
cleaned up by the very people Ogra purported to protect.
The Sunday Times April 16, 2006
Ireland: Rising To Meet Its Destiny
The silent 1926 film Irish Destiny is a mythic political
vision that fell foul of the state, says Gerry McCarthy
A great upsurge of music fills the screen. Denis, a
handsome and heroic young volunteer, gallops across bogs
and mountains on his faithful horse, carrying an urgent
message for IRA HQ. It is 1920 and the Irish war of
independence is at its height. Only Denis and his steed can
penetrate the ring of steel that the Black and Tans have
thrown around the capital. The future of Ireland itself
hangs on his mission.
Such a simplistic tableau could only have been created in a
more innocent age, before the resurgence of violence in
Northern Ireland made it difficult to portray the IRA —
even the old IRA, as distinct from the Provos — as noble
and heroic. The film is Irish Destiny, a silent drama
produced in Dublin in 1926, only a few years after the
events depicted. Created when the new Irish state’s origin
myth was still fluid, it now offers us a novel view of the
birth of those myths, and the grey zone between history and
Film has long been a particularly intense battleground in
Ireland’s culture wars. Republicans and revisionists have
tussled over the depiction of violence and the
characterisation of gunmen. Critics have argued that Irish
cinema subliminally glorified paramilitarism; others
countered that dramatic conventions served to simplify
Now that the cultural struggle has moved into a new phase
where meanings are again fluid, a film such as Irish
Destiny is a reminder that we have been here before. Unlike
its Russian counterpart, Battleship Potemkin — in which
Sergei Eisenstein dramatised a key incident from the
Bolshevik revolution with the full backing of the Soviet
state — Irish Destiny never became a classic.
For decades, all prints were thought to have been
destroyed, until a copy surfaced in the US Library of
Congress. Restored by the Irish Film Institute, it has now
been issued on DVD with a new score by Micheal O
When Neil Jordan made Michael Collins in 1996, many
audiences would have been surprised to learn that 1916 and
the war of independence had already been dramatised in a
lavish production. And the debates surrounding Jordan’s
film — such as historical accuracy, casting decisions and
the susceptibility of cinema audiences to emotional
manipulation — had also been heard before.
From the 1940s and 1950s, and films such as Odd Man Out and
Shake Hands with the Devil, up to Jim Sheridan’s movies
about more recent events in Northern Ireland, one critique
has been constant. By casting a charismatic star as an IRA
man — James Mason and Jimmy Cagney in the earlier films,
Daniel Day-Lewis (In the Name of the Father) and Liam
Neeson in later cases — the director was enhancing the
image of irredentist republicanism and its latterday
manifestation in the Provos.
Stated so baldly, the notion sounds distinctly paranoid.
Were audiences really so gullible they would grab an Uzi
because the good-looking guy on screen had one? But it is a
form of paranoia found on all sides. Many of the same films
were also criticised for trivialising politics, or
depicting violence as a psychotic aberration rather than a
Even documentary films and those based on archive footage,
such as Mise Eire, were not above suspicion. As Leni
Riefenstahl showed in Hitler’s Germany, the selection and
editing of documentary images can itself be highly
effective propaganda. Mise Eire, directed by George
Morrison in 1959, was an overt attempt to put the Irish
state’s foundation myth on a firm documentary footing.
The impetus behind it — to establish an authoritative
version of Irish history in time for the 50th anniversary
of 1916 — has obvious resonances today. But the film,
despite the strength of its imagery, got entangled with
other aspirational government projects such as the Irish
language. One theme runs through these many arguments: a
profound distrust of the cinematic medium and a fear of its
influence on the general public.
Authorities, both church and state, were suspicious of a
populist medium outside their control. But for republicans
and assorted political dissidents, film itself was one of
the agents of power.
Eighty years ago, Irish Destiny was the original test case.
It was written and produced by Isaac Eppel, a Dublin doctor
and cinema owner, who brought in George Dewhurst, an
experienced film-maker, to direct. From today’s
perspective, it is a remarkable piece of propaganda, and
one that the authorities seemingly failed to appreciate.
Filmed just 10 years after the 1916 rising, at a time when
the fledgling Free State was still stumbling to its feet
after the trauma of the war of independence and the civil
war, the movie goes out of its way to establish the
morality, heroism and, above all, the middle-class
respectability of the IRA.
Denis, the hero (Paddy Dunne Cullinan), has middle-class
credentials as impeccable as his tweed suits. The film
opens in the drawing room of his family home, where his
father is playing chess with the parish priest. Denis, we
learn, has joined the local IRA.
Eppel and Dewhurst reinforce the legitimacy of the IRA and
its appeal to idealistic young professionals. Bourgeois
respectability in the style of the 1920s is constantly
fused with older, more primeval, notions of heroism and
Many of these touches are subliminal. Some, arguably, have
more to do with appealing to American audiences than with
reflecting the reality of 1920s Ireland. For example, Denis
not only has to contend with the Black and Tans, he must
also rescue his true love, the village schoolteacher, from
the clutches of a poteen distiller.
This subplot seems to have leaked in from an entirely
different film; it’s a transparent appeal to the
sensibilities of prohibition-era America, which, in
passing, boosts the moral authority of the IRA.
Irish Destiny failed utterly on its release. Eppel moved to
England and never made another film; his creation was all
but forgotten. The reason, ironically, lies in that very
respectability the film tries so hard to promote. By 1926,
that particular propaganda battle was effectively over: the
Catholic church and the professional classes had given
their support to the new state. Freedom had been achieved:
the main concern was to ensure it was the right kind of
Beneath Eppel’s glorification of a mythic country-
gentleman-type of IRA man, one can just discern flashes of
anxiety about the new Ireland. As revisionist historians
such as Peter Hart have pointed out, the social roots of
the old IRA were mainly rural and working class. Denis is
an ideal figure whose function is to retrospectively link
his class with the recently ended struggle. This new
Catholic ruling class effectively made a pact with the
church. It would ensure that the new Ireland was decent,
devout and respectable. In return it would be legitimised
as the authentic heir to the revolutionaries of 1916 and
Cinema was one of the victims of this new social contract.
Shortly before Eppel made Irish Destiny, a censorship board
had been set up, which proved to be the most repressive in
We can never return to the pious simplicities portrayed in
Irish Destiny: 21st-century ideas of Irishness are
inevitably more complex. But the film still holds a lesson
for us. Eppel tried to concoct a mythic yarn that would
appeal to popular prejudices, but was rejected: cinema was
something the Irish state had to protect itself from, not
bend to its own devices.
Today’s opinion-formers and politicians are a little more
enlightened, but fear of film has never quite receded.
Perhaps those who distrust it have a point. Television and
the internet may be the focus of contemporary worries, but
film is still the most powerful generator of myth. Nothing
else reaches into our dreams in quite the same way,
something as true today as in the time of Collins and
The Sunday Times April 16, 2006
Dublin 1916? No, Try Young Cassidy 1965
Eileen Martin, Irish Picture Editor
EVERY picture tells a story — but the tale behind what
seemed to be a photograph of a street battle during the
1916 rising has left one of the world’s leading picture
archives looking foolish.
The Getty Images agency, whose head office is in Seattle,
has been selling a still from a 1960s movie as a historic
snapshot from one of Ireland’s most iconic events. Among
the publications that used the image alongside articles
about 1916 are The Irish Times and History Today, which
prides itself as being “the world’s leading history
The picture is part of the renowned Hulton Archive, owned
by Getty. It depicts a spectacular gun fight, including
burning vehicles and strategically strewn bodies.
The image raised the suspicion of Pat Cooke, curator of
Kilmainham Jail, when he spotted it reproduced in a
supplement published by The Irish Times to commemorate the
90th anniversary of the Easter rising. Cooke felt there was
something “stagey” about its composition, including a large
crowd of onlookers in the background, seemingly watching a
film being shot.
Cooke also spotted a car numberplate on a burning
barricade. Following some detective work he found it was
from a Ford 10 car registered in May 1952, 36 years after
Sunniva O’Flynn, curator of the Irish Film Archive, has
since identified the image as being from Young Cassidy, a
1965 biopic of Sean O’Casey, starring Rod Taylor and Julie
But Getty Images is still in the dark. While its website
has been amended to include the caveat “possibly a film
set”, the picture still has an incorrect caption and date,
now suggesting 1955.
According to Sarah McDonald, the Hulton Archive curator, it
was acquired from a New York archive in 2002 as “a grainy
reproduction print”. It was among a batch within that
archive entitled American Stock. Written on the back in
pencil was “Easter Rising, Dublin put down by English
troops” and the print was with other genuine material from
McDonald concedes that assumptions were probably made and
acknowledges that there are “one or two clues” in the
picture that all is not as it seems. “While we endeavour to
do so, it is impossible to guarantee 100% the caption
information of every image in our 40m-strong collection,”
The Irish Times was not the only publication led astray by
the caption. History Today also uses the photograph to
illustrate an article related to the Easter rising in its
On its online image library Getty boasts about its “truly
global archive offering defining moments and personalities
from the 19th century to the present day”.
It invites customers to “search our diverse and rare
archival footage of iconic personalities, moments and eras,
including vintage industrial films, newsreels and
Asked whether any new measures were being instigated to
protect against errors, McDonald said that the agency
reviewed its procedures on a case-by-case basis.
“We are very reactive and speedily correct any errors which
are brought to our attention,” she said. But Hulton has
been unable to trace the film still back to Young Cassidy,
despite having tried to do so.
Cooke has now identified at least two further miscaptioned
images among its Irish material. One labelled as being a
commemoration at Kilmainham Jail in 1925 is, in fact,
Arbour Hill in the 1940s. “If I can find such mistakes
taking just a cursory view, it doesn’t inspire you with
confidence for the rest of the collection,” he said.
“When a company’s product is archive, you would expect to
be assured of its historical accuracy and reliability
without which, as a historian, I feel it is seriously
Getty Images last week purchased the Tralee-based agencies
Stockbyte and Stockdisc for $135m (€112m).
This is not the first time that movie footage has got mixed
up with the real thing. Kasandra O’Connell, of the Irish
Film Archive, said a dramatised ambush from a British
propaganda film made during the war of independence was
presented in a 1980s documentary as genuine.“When imagery
is supplied by a reputable source such as Getty, people
just assume it’s correct,” she said.
Opin: Easter Rising Still Holds Imagination
By Kevin Connolly
BBC News Ireland correspondent
On the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, the BBC News
website considers its significance and the electoral
attraction of marking it.
Early on Easter Sunday morning in 1916 a motley group of
rebels set out through the streets of Dublin to loosen
Britain's imperial hold on Ireland by force of arms.
They were soon dislodged from the curious assortment of
buildings, including a biscuit factory and the General Post
Office, which they seized.
But the grip they took on the political imagination of the
nation too shows no sign of slackening.
They almost certainly knew that in military terms, their
venture was doomed from the start but in Irish eyes that
helped to make the rising a kind of study in miniature of
centuries of hopelessly unequal struggle against British
The rebels - who were viewed with some suspicion and
hostility in Dublin at first - became national heroes
That wasn't of course how Britain saw it.
Two years into the Great War - a war in which tens of
thousands of Irishmen, Catholic and Protestant, were
fighting under British colours in Europe - the Easter
Rising was seen as a treasonable stab in the back.
The standard reading of what happened next is that a
combination of stupidity and brutality on the British side
helped to ensure that the rebels - who were viewed with
some suspicion and hostility in Dublin at first - became
Nearly 2,000 were interned and 15 of the leaders were
One of them, James Connolly - a radical Scots-born trades
unionist - was so badly injured that he had to be tied to a
chair so that he could be shot by firing squad.
He'd gloomily speculated that the rebels would be
slaughtered, but not all of his predictions were so
accurate; he also believed generals working for a
capitalist power wouldn't use artillery to put down the
rebellion for fear of damaging private property too.
The scale of destruction in the burning ruins of Dublin
showed he had underestimated his enemy.
But you can't judge the past by the standards of the
present. The British Army shot more than 300 of its own
soldiers for cowardice and desertion during World War I.
From the generals' viewpoint the rebels could hardly expect
better treatment. And it wasn't just the executions that
sealed the rebels' place in Irish history.
One of their leaders, Padraig Pearse, used his brief time
in command at the Post Office to read out a "proclamation
of the republic" - a ringing declaration that Ireland, long
part of the British empire, was now independent.
It was six years before that vision was realised, and a lot
more blood was to be shed first. Even then, victory was
partial because Ireland was partitioned, with the six
north-eastern counties remaining firmly in British hands.
But most Irish people regard the Rising as a defining
moment from which the legitimacy of the modern republic
Given all of this, the 90th anniversary was always going to
be seen as something to celebrate - not least because
almost all of the main parties in the Irish republic trace
their origins back directly or indirectly to that little
group of rebels.
The main party in the governing coalition, Bertie Ahern's
Fianna Fail, has always styled itself a republican party -
but even the staid and rather conservative opposition Fine
Gael has been reminding voters of its own, normally well-
hidden, rebel credentials.
Their predecessors and great-grandfathers too fought in
those burning ruins even though their current leaders are
trenchant critics of the modern republican movement.
You can see what's motivating them. There's an election
next year and there seems every prospect that Sinn Fein,
the political wing of the IRA, will perform even more
strongly than it did the last time.
So the anniversary probably seemed to Mr Ahern to be a good
time to remind the voters that it's the older parties in
the South, rather than the largely northern-accented
upstart, which are the true inheritors of the spirit of the
A parade by the defence forces will underline the message
that it's the soldiers of the Irish Army and not the
paramilitaries of the IRA, who stand in a direct line of
descent from the volunteers who followed Pearse and
During the troubles in Northern Ireland it was seen to be
impossible to mark the Easter Rising with a military
Most people in Ireland draw a moral and political
distinction between the activities of the "old" IRA in the
1920s and those of the Provisional IRA in the 1970s and
1980s but there was a general feeling that a military
marchpast might have blurred that distinction.
So it's with a sense of relief that the commemoration is
now restored - but when you watch the celebrations,
remember that modern electoral subtext. The shots in that
21-gun salute are the first shots in next year's election
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/16 00:12:56 GMT
© BBC MMVI
Opin: ‘Facts’ Of The Easter Rising Are Open To Interpretation By Both Sides
Columnist of the Year
History matters in Ireland. To one individual, yet to be
named, a scrap of history mattered to the tune of 760,000
euros last week. You need patriotism as deep as your
pockets, or a keen nose for an investment, to pay that sort
of money for the draft of a song.
True, Amhran Na bhFiann isn’t just any tune. “The Soldier’s
Song”, as most know it, is Ireland’s national anthem, after
all. The draft of Peadar Kearney’s 1907 lyrics put under
the hammer at Austin’s auction house in Dublin did not
quite reach its guide price of over a million euros, but
interest in artifacts from a republican past is high. Call
it a Rising market.
Ninety years have passed since James Connolly, Padraic
Pearse and a smallish group of followers stood on the steps
of Dublin’s GPO and declared Ireland a republic. At the
time, passers-by tended to laugh. Many were off to the
Fairyhouse Races for the day. “In the name of God and of
the dead generations from which she receives her old
tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her
children to her flag,” announced Pearse. The common
reaction was straightforward. Summons? Who does? Through
us? On a fine spring holiday? Then mayhem broke out.
Easter Monday fell on April 24 that year. Once the self-
appointed rebels were done, central Dublin was a smoking
ruin and the citizenry were less than impressed. After
their surrender the insurgents were jeered at and insulted
as they were marched away. With the rising crushed, said
the Irish Times, “Ireland has been saved from shame and
ruin, and the whole empire from a se-rious danger”. Then
the executions began.
Criminals became heroes; terrorists, safely dead, became
patriots and, in time, the founding fathers of the Irish
state. After 1916, Britain became the enemy in a war of
independence. Then, disputing partition, legitimacy and
purity of purpose, the Irish fought among themselves for a
while in a conflict as bloody and ruthless as anything the
British had contrived. With the creation of a constitution
in 1937 things settled down: a 26-county state, annual
obeisance to the martyrs of the Rising, and the acceptance,
with some niggling doubts, of mythology as truth.
Official Dublin last marked the Easter insurrection with
full pomp in 1966, half a century after the event. In 1971
came the last big parade. With the Troubles in the North,
the republic’s modest defence forces could not cope with
patrolling the border and marching down O’Connell Street
simultaneously. Besides, what had 1916 come to mean for a
new IRA with new British targets? Could Connolly and Pearse
– armed rebels, killers of 132 police and British soldiers
– be honoured by a state busy deploring armed republicanism
in its own backyard?
The Irish defence forces were marching again yesterday,
2500 of them, from Dublin Castle through Dame Street,
College Green and O’Connell Street to the GPO, for the
first time in 35 years. There was a fly-past by the Aer
Corps. An Post had issued a commemorative stamp and a
first-day cover, as in 1966. At the Post Office, where the
bullet scars of 1916 are still preserved, Pearse’s
proclamation was read again. “Appropriate military honours”
were then rendered. Tonight, back at the Castle, there will
be a state reception.
So what has changed? Is the Easter Rising now safe,
neutralised by time? Have the aftershocks faded finally?
Opening an exhibition at the National Museum, Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern declared this to be “a week of remembrance,
reconciliation and renewal”. His speech, not untypically,
was one from which his listeners could take what they
needed. A homage to republican values, a paean to the peace
process, a boasting over Ireland’s status as a modern,
democratic, non-violent European state: what you will. As
though to underline the point, this weekend also saw an
official ceremony to commemorate those Irishmen who fell in
their thousands at the Somme, fighting for Britain.
Many circles are being squared, as best as the Irish
government can manage. Despite upsurges in violence and the
failure to create any sort of viable power-sharing
administration in Belfast, the Troubles are declared to be
at an end. Despite a fashionable revisionism in the south
among academics and journalists who question the right of
the 1916 rebels to liberate anyone by force, a truce with
history is being enforced. Plans, indeed, are already afoot
for the big one, 2016, the centenary of the Rising. As
defence minister Willie O’Dea has said: “Every parade from
now on will be a dress rehearsal.” Or as the Irish
Independent remarked ruefully last week, Ireland faces “the
longest dress rehearsal in history”.
And why not? When France celebrates Bastille Day no one
sours the mood by mentioning that the Terror did not do
much for liberty, equality or fraternity. When America
gathers for July 4 the fact that its revolutionary war
turned family against family and community against
community is not an issue. Italy, like any number of other
nations, owes its very existence to bloody conflict.
Yesterday’s terrorist thug has a well-known habit of
becoming today’s freedom fighter: ask an Iraqi. And if we
move to the other, parochial extreme, Scotland can probably
forgive Ahern the rhetoric of reconciliation and renewal:
we are too close to Ireland, north and south, to have no
need of these things.
You are left to wonder, nevertheless, if history is truly
quite as ambiguous as some would prefer. As a military
action the Easter Rising was a debacle from start to
finish. As a source of inspiration it helped to turn a
centuries-old Irish dream of independence, at least for the
largest part of the island, into a reality. Yet what is the
difference between inspiration and example?
Ahern’s party, Fianna Fáil, descends from the Sinn Fein
faction that fought the civil war out of opposition to a
partitioning treaty with Britain. Its opponent, Fine Gael,
was born of support for the signatories of that same
treaty. Both are still denounced by the sticklers of the
Provisional IRA who claim their army council, even yet, as
the successor to Ireland’s only legitimate government. For
each of the three, respectable and democratic or alienated
and still marginalised, the same historical chapter can
mean many different things.
So too can 1916. The 90th anniversary has caused a stir, to
put it mildly, in the Irish press. In part, there is the
fear that the commemorations have a certain unwelcome
logic. What is being honoured, after all, if not
paramilitary violence? Equally, there is an argument over
ownership. Is Ahern simply wrapping himself in the
tricolour to gain electoral advantage over the modern Sinn
Fein, a party that has been happy to present itself as the
guardian of 1916’s spirit for 35 years? Yet if
reconciliation is the object, if the founding myth of the
Irish state is the issue, how can the political wing of
(formerly) armed republicanism be excluded from the party?
Gerry Adams, front and centre in Dublin today, rejects
violence, of course. So do all the Unionists who felt
unable to make their way to O’Connell Street. So does
Ahern, naturally enough, as an architect of the peace
process. So do the majority of the people of Ireland, whose
dearest wish it is to keep the IRA beyond their borders,
who would not sacrifice a single life for a re-united
island. Yet the heritage is common, the rights of ownership
the same: 1916, smoke, blood and death on the streets of
For the citizens of a modern state, enjoying a standard of
living beyond imagining 35 years ago, history figures as a
dim presence, if it figures at all. It is a mistake, a
serious one, to believe that young Ireland reveres the
rebels of 1916 any more than William Wallace is “revered”
in Scotland. The distance of time is too great for the
imagination to bridge. Modern Ireland is no more James
Connolly’s Marxist democracy than it is Pearse’s Celtic
paradise. The actions of insurgents have consequences, but
not always the consequences they intend.
The Irish remember today, many of them, but they bring
questions on themselves by the act of remembrance itself.
What do they commemorate, precisely, and why? What is a
nation? Was it – is it – worth the dying? The 1916 rebels
said it was; an overwhelming majority in today’s Ireland
would not dignify the idea with an answer. So history’s
civil war goes on, across the Irish Sea and across the
16 April 2006
Opin: Cashing In On An Unlikely Band Of Brothers
15 April 2006
THE UDA is said to be in turmoil. There's a turn up for the
The current cause of upset in the ranks is traced back to
confusion over how to deal with the brothers Shoukri.
This week a source close to the UDA informed the Irish News
that the UDA had found itself "caught between two stools."
Or as the source (rather bluntly I felt) put it: "On the
one hand the UDA can't allow them to stay because the
Government won't follow through with the promise of money
until the Shoukris are gone. "On the other hand the UDA
can't go out and shoot them because the Government won't
accept that either."
You can quite see the Government's difficulty with the
But it's the former that fascinates....
"The UDA can't allow them to stay because the Government
won't follow through with the promise of money."
Er, the promise of what money?
This suggests, does it not, that the UDA source is of the
distinct impression that the Government is currently
considering passing funding directly to the terrorist UDA.
In any other jurisdiction, you'd shrug your shoulders at
this and assume it's just overstatement on the part of the
But this is Northern Ireland. When it comes to
paramilitaries and their treatment by Government, anything
So is the Government seriously proposing to give the UDA
money? How? Why? (Never mind cash for honours - is this
evidence of the Blair regime now branching out into cash
The likes of the Shoukris are obviously beyond the Pale in
terms of being a target for official funding.
But does the Government consider there is someone within
the UDA who could or should be given cash?
In other words, does wearing a suit and keeping a
relatively low profile somehow set one paramilitary
gangster apart from another?
Opin: You Say Londonderry, I Say Tomato — Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off
Comment: Sue Denham
The question of whether it’s Derry or Londonderry is
finally going to be sorted out — by a judge. Three years
ago Derry City Council voted to drop the London bit, but
the environment department in Belfast has failed to respond
to the request. So councillors are off to court, and
expressing the hope that “the process will not take too
long”. Now there’s a laugh.
Unionist politicians, pretty much the only people that
still call the city Londonderry, are as upset as you would
expect. “Many unionists feel it is about stripping the city
of its Britishness and about further isolating them as a
small minority community,” says DUP councillor Willie Hay.
What’s in a name, eh? While one has some sympathy with
unionists in Derry, who have been pushed to the margins,
and while you can find a sound historical basis for the
place being called Londonderry, surely practical arguments
win the day? Londonderry takes a long time to say, and even
longer to write. Most city names have two syllables, three
at most, and simply don’t have time for a fourth.
So let’s agree: the place is really called Londonderry, but
from now on we’re going to call it Derry for short.
The Irishman who taught that nice Bin Laden a thing or two
Osama Bin Laden once had an Irish teacher, The New Yorker
magazine has revealed. As a lad, the terrorist leader
attended the Al Thagher Model School near Jedda in Saudi
Arabia, where he was taught English by one Seamus O’Brien.
O’Sama was “a nice fellow and a good student”, according to
O’Brien. “There were no problems with him. He was a quiet
lad. I suppose silent waters run deep.”
Mastery of understatement must be Seamus’s first lesson.
Editors at The Last Word, Today FM’s drive-time show,
should listen to prerecorded interviews before they’re
Fintan O’Toole, a stand-in presenter, was doing a telephone
interview with John Hopkins, the Times golf correspondent,
last Monday when someone walked into Hopkins’s room. The
journalist apologised and said: “We’re not live here, are
we?” No, O’Toole reassured him, we’re not.
They may as well have been, because the exchange was not
edited before it was broadcast.
Doctors may be foolish quitters, but they’re brave
A survey of junior doctors at a Dublin hospital found that
22% of them smoke, slightly less than the national average
(28%). According to the Irish Journal of Medical Science,
20% of the docs were former smokers, higher than the
general average, suggesting that more doctors do quit.
That’s probably because they understand the health risks,
but the authors wonder why doctors who quit make it so hard
on themselves. “Despite better access than patients to
pharmacological smoking cessation measures (er, they mean
patches and gums), many doctors still opt to use willpower
as their only tool in smoking cessation,” the study says.
“A large number of these doctors would be informed of the
documented benefits of nicotine replacement over willpower
“This study showed that there is a need to increase
awareness among NCHDs (that’s the official title for the
baby doctors) regarding the risk of smoking,” the authors
conclude. Indeed, but what do they teach them in medical
Meanwhile, three junior docs in the study were smoking 20-
30 cigs a day. Given their long hours, where do they get
Does Northern Bank’s generosity know no bounds? The Danish-
owned company sponsored a table at Northern Ireland’s
recent press and PR awards in the Europa hotel and invited
both Mairtin O Muilleoir, the group managing director of
the Republican Andersonstown News Group and a former Sinn
Fein councillor, and Colin O’Carroll, editor of Daily
Ireland, a republican rag disguised as a newspaper. Sue
isn’t aware if the IRA robbery of the Northern Bank cropped
up in conversation, but no doubt the pair had some
interesting opinions to offer.
If you think Bono is a commanding figure in the fight
against poverty, then look away now. But if you think he’d
win the the Nobel prize for smugness then you’ll enjoy this
week’s edition of Grumpy Old Men on BBC2, in which an angry
queue of Brits moan about the U2 singer.
“There are people where you just think, ‘Christ almighty,
why isn’t everyone else thinking this bloke is a prat?’”
says Sir Gerry Robinson, a businessman and former chairman
of Arts Council England.
For style consultant Peter York, it’s those glasses. “I
think Mr Bono probably grew up in a time when people
thought it was cool to wear shades indoors,” he says.
“Goodness knows, he should stop.”
“He is the bollocks of all bollocks. Bono: go back and sing
a song and don’t talk politics. It’s like someone asking me
about politics,” says actor Nigel Havers.
Huh. When Bono does win the Nobel prize, Sue is prepared to
offer good odds that the Brits will claim him as one of
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