Monday, February 06, 2006

1916 Commemoration and Neo-Redmondness

Of late Neo-Redmondism is on the rise. What is Neo-Redmondism you ask. Well it is a word I just made up. It basically is a belief that the 1916 rising was wrong and that John Redmond’s parlimentary party could have delivered a Irish Republic.

Ok firstly a bit of background for any foreign readers. John Redmond was leader of the Irish Parliamentary party from 1900 to 1918. The aim of the party was to get a home rule party in Dublin. This was granted in 1912 but was suspended due to a delay brought by the House of Lords. This meant that it would have granted in 1914. But when world war 1 broke out it was suspended until the end of the war. In 1916 the 1916 rising broke out.

So now the argument centres around the fact that John Redmouds method could have lead to an independent Ireland. John Burns in the Sunday Times argues this. Now hindsight is great and indeed Redmouds method would have worked. But it would have worked in the 1960s when Britain was going through its period of decolonisation but could anyone have known that No. So then we need to look at the fact at whether or not it could have produced a republic in or before 1949.

Firstly it was not the same as the free state as gained in 1922. It was a devolved assembly with limited powers. This would have meant that Dev would not have had the same powers to change the constitution as he did in 1937. We did not have the same power. In fact we would still have been part of the United Kingdom. This would have resulted us being involved in the second world war and all the trouble that would have brought. So just coming out of the Second World War the UK had no longer a conservative government and had a labour government might have given more freedom to Ireland but unlikely a Republic.

Now the other contention would be that a united Ireland could be achieved. But this would not have happened. The UVF was formed not to stop a Irish republic but to stop a home rule parliament in Dublin. The Ulster Unionist no more wanted a Home Rule parliament then a republic. So the Island would still have been divided.

So now we come to the argument about the rising had no support. Richard Waghourne Said

With hundreds of thousands of Irishmen at the front, next to no popular support, no mandate sought or received, no respect for human life, no prospect of success, and no attempt at agitating through the usual channels, the events of 1916, in my mind, have no possible defence. The attack was wholly illegitimate and it was the right and duty of the lawful authorities to put it down. Indeed, those who did so, in the first days, were themselves Irish, and the deep unpopularity of the rising at the time is well known.
Now another war that could be described in those terms is the war in Iraq which Richard supports. The United States did not go through the “usual channels” or “seek a mandate”( Edit :I'll admit they had a mandate from the congress but not from the UN. Thanks for Kevin of DL for pointing that out.) the war has “no popular support” Yet he is against the rising. In 1916 true the rising had no support yet the point that Richard and Kevin Myres forget to mention is that in 1918 Sinn Fein’s overwhelmly won the election pacifically on the basis’s and aims of the rising and this gives the Rising the mandate. Home rule was supported because there was no alternative the rising gave them an alternative. In 1918 the country was united by 1916 not home rule.

Edit:

On the issue of parliamentary support the last election in Ireland prior to 1918 was 1910 3 years before the formation of the Irish volunteers. This suggest that a ground swell of militaristic tradition had developed in the 3 years from 1910 to 1913 and had an election been held in 1914. Sinn Fein may have won some if not many seats.

People go on about the violence about how it was wrong. These are the same people who justify when it is for Iraqi freedom. Why treat Ireland different? People say Ireland could have negotiated freedom but that is highly unlikely. People say that the blood sacrifice was wrong but as Winston Churchill Said

"You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

Richard says 1916 has no place in our national self-understanding. But it is the very basis of our understanding like 1798, 1916 was when we said we are Irish and will not be ruled by others. It is our most united past event. Every party (save greens) had a part of it. 1918 can not claim that neither can 1922. In 1918 Labour did not run in the election. 1922 Sinn Fein split on pro and anti-treaty sides. The 1937 constitution was Fianna Fail, the declaration of the republic was Fine Gael. But 1916 is the in fact unifying factor of our national self-understanding the formations of Fianna Fail, PDs and Fine Gael came from Sinn Fein. Labour was invested in the Citizen Army.

We should all celebrate the 1916 and not allow the PIRA violence intimidate us into thinking that the 1916 rising was wrong. Maybe it is time for neo-republicanism.

1916 is Ireland.

United Irelander has some interesting quotes on the subject.

9 comments:

Kevin Breathnach said...

The United States did not go through the “usual channels” or “seek a mandate” the war has “no popular support”

Debate the merits of the war and the methods under which the mandate was received, but don't dispute the fact that the United States and Britain received a mandate in that Congress and Parliament supported the war. Each is representative of the population, and as such, is the only formed of mandate possible. Secondly, the people of Iraq also supported and continue to support the decision to go to war in Iraq.

In 1916 true the rising had no support yet the point that Richard and Kevin Myres forget to mention is that in 1918 Sinn Fein’s overwhelmly won the election pacifically one the basis’s and aims of the rising and this gives the Rising the mandate.

That support, as far as I'm aware, was won on the basis of sympathy towards those who were executed, not their original violence, which was condemned at large by the public until the widespread sympathy broke on realisation that the leaders were being killed.

I think many who support the war in Iraq are reluctant to support the Rising because it was, in essence, a terrorist operation. Those who support the war in Iraq tend to be those who are most outraged by ongoing terrorist attacks.

My own feelings on the Rising are undecided.

Simon said...

I think many who support the war in Iraq are reluctant to support the Rising because it was, in essence, a terrorist operation.
Do they also say the American revolution was a terrorist uprising.

I am not debating the the merits of the war in fact i am for the war but anyway.

The mandate the for 1916 came from Sinn Fein which considering got the support for the 1918 can be said to be mandated.

Secondly, the people of Iraq also supported and continue to support the decision to go to war in Iraq.
Do you denign the fact that the majority in Ireland support the republic.

The executions are all part of the rising.

El Matador said...

The Saint-

Neo-Redmondism does not by definition mean you cannot also celebrate the Rising. Almost by fluke, I did a piece on this very issue today over on El Blogador in which I argue that although Ireland's War Heroes and the 1916 Rebels had different methods, they both had the same goal of an independent Ireland. Therefore, remembering both does not have to be mutually exclusive. As far as I'm concerned, the resurrected Rising celebrations should also remember the National Volunteers' role in the Great War.

I'd be interested to hear what you think- check out the thread over on El Blogador.

Simon said...

totally agree El matador.

But I was talking about people deneigning 1916. We should celebrate both.

I think we should celebrate rememberance day in the south as they do in Britain. and wear poppies etc.

United Irelander said...

Kevin

"That support, as far as I'm aware, was won on the basis of sympathy towards those who were executed, not their original violence, which was condemned at large by the public until the widespread sympathy broke on realisation that the leaders were being killed"

The British messed up in other ways. They introduced martial law in Ireland making life uncomfortable for many people. The RIC were also working on poor and outdated information and many former Sinn Féiners were arrested (because they thought it was a Sinn Féin rebellion) and many of these people had actually been against the Rising.

I don't know if one can say that the 1918 election justified the Rising as a large part of Sinn Féin's support in the election was down to the fact that the British were thinking of introducing conscription into Ireland.

I personally think the Rising can be justifed on its own merits. The British had taken Ireland by force centuries beforehand and had discriminated against the country for centuries. The culture was dying and the country was on the verge of being split in two and about to be denied the Home Rule bill that had been patiently awaited for decades.

I made this point over on my own blog - some denounce the Rising due to the fact that it was only retrospectively supported, but British rule in Ireland itself was retrospectively supported as British rule was initially opposed by the Irish.

Where does one draw the line?

Simon said...

I don't know if one can say that the 1918 election justified the Rising as a large part of Sinn Féin's support in the election was down to the fact that the British were thinking of introducing conscription into Ireland.

I don't think you could seperate 1916 and sinn fein. I mean Sinn Fein preech many of the wishes of lefties but they are not going to vote for them because of the pervious link to violence.
While conscription is more serious issue then left wing politics. I don't think you can majorly divorce Sinn Feins vote from support for 1916.


Also the fact that conscription was (correct me if I am wrong) said not to be extend to Ireland prior to the election. I don't think it played as big a part as many think. But that is a fairly uneducated opinion on that fact.

phdbird said...

People go on about the violence about how it was wrong. These are the same people who justify when it is for Iraqi freedom. Why treat Ireland different? People say Ireland could have negotiated freedom but that is highly unlikely.

I believe in our independence and a constitution which is unique to our identity. And I'm not sure they could have been achieved any other way. The rising is defined as terrorism depending on your viewpoint. I find in this case it is an uncomfortable ambiguity. Terrorism is defined as actions which are carried out by illegal armies or individuals. It is defined as such by those in power. There is no way that Ireland could have formed a legal, independent army at that time. I agree with the Saint - we should commemorate 1916 with a mature viewpoint which also includes commemorating remembrance day.

garryg said...

the question then has to be asked without 1916 and the independance that followed. Would Ireland today be on the verge of Global domination. I think not.

Simon said...

i don't know garryg i think Charlie McCrevvy must be on the otherside of the battle. I mean if the country was not so booming we would all be leaving conolising the world. But now we stay and the race for domination is slowing.

That is an interesting question though. would Ireland be well off under the UK rule.

I would say no but what do people think