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.
On the issue of parliamentary support the last election in
"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.