Saturday, 26 March 2016

Easter Rising commemorated.

Tomorrow will what I hope will see the commemoration rather than celebration of the Easter Rising.

I sat hope because as a pacifist I don't see that it is right to celebrate an action that saw the Deaths of so many people.

Organised by seven members of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood,the Rising began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, and lasted for six days. Members of the Irish Volunteers — led by schoolmaster and Irish language activist Pádraig Pearse;, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly and 200 members of Cumann na mBan — seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic. There were isolated actions in other parts of Ireland, with an attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks at Ashbourne, County Meath and abortive attacks on other barracks in County Galway and at Enniscorthy, County Wexford.
With vastly superior numbers and artillery, the British Army quickly suppressed the Rising, and Pearse agreed to an unconditional surrender on Saturday 29 April. After the surrender, all of Ireland remained under martial law. About 3,500 people were taken prisoner by the British, many of whom played no part in the Rising, and 1,800 of them were sent to internment camps or prisons in Britain.T he most prominent of which was Frongoch near Bala

Most of the leaders of the Rising were executed following courts-martial. The Rising succeeded in bringing physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics, and support for republicanism continued to rise in Ireland. In December 1918, republicans (by then represented by the Sinn Féin party) won a landslide victory in the general election to the British Parliament, on a policy of abstentionism and Irish independence. On 21 January 1919 they convened the First Dáil and declared the independence of the Irish Republic, which led to the Irish War of Independence.
Almost 500 people were killed in the Easter Rising. About 54% were civilians, 30% were British military and police, and 16% were Irish rebels. More than 2,600 were wounded. Most of the civilians were killed as a result of the British using artillery and heavy machine guns, or mistaking civilians for rebels. The shelling and the fires it caused left parts of inner city Dublin in ruins.

It is wel known that initially the rising met wit Hostility from Dubliners  but the executions almost immediately  saw a change in opinion throughout Ireland.

Which was maybe Pádraig Pearse's intention.  Easter being associated with sacrifice after all .

We can only speculate  what would have happened if The Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, introduced the Bill on 11 April 1912. Home Rule Bill had come into force before the outbreak of the first World War Allowing more autonomy than its two predecessors, the bill provided for:
  • A bicameral Irish Parliament to be set up in Dublin (a 40-member Senate and a 164-member House of Commons) with powers to deal with most national affairs;
  • A number of Irish MPs would continue to sit in the Parliament of the United Kingdom (42 MPs, rather than 103).
  • The abolition of Dublin Castle administration, though with the retention of the Lord Lieutenant.
Would the future of Ireland  have seen Ireland becoming more like Canada or Australia?
Would it have seen Unionists in Ulster who were opposed to a home-rule Ireland governed from Dublin having their own Rising 

 They were  in fact partly  responsible  for Dublin in 1916

 Early in 1912, they began forming small local militias. By April 1912, the Irish Unionist leader, Sir Edward Carson, could review 100,000 marching Ulster Volunteers. On 28 September 1912, over 500,000 Unionists signed the Ulster Covenant pledging to defy Home Rule by all means possible. 

This led to the formation of the Irish Volunteers to defend Home Rule a minority of which took part in Easter week.

Indeed it is likely that we would have sen a Civil War between Unionist and Irish Nationlist with a UK government imposing Martial Law and suspending the New Parliament.

Which would then see another rising and more bloody than Easter or the subsequent Civil war  

The Easter Rising  may have led to Tragic aftermath  including a Civil War between those who accepted the treaty which saw more deaths in the rising.

Despite  my pacifist leanings it may well be that the rising actually  prevented a more violent conflict, especially if after the 1918 the now Tory dominated coalition  failed to implement the 1912 Bill.

This is pure speculation , But for  Unionist  in the UK today the events of Easter 1916 should stand as a warning . that they cannot stand in the way pf the aspirations of Wales and Scotland if it is clear that the majority of their people make it clear they wish to control thier own destiny.

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