Irish Republican News · April 24, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Values of Rising need to be renewed
Values of Rising need to be renewed

by Paul Donovan (for the Irish Post)

The 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising and 25th anniversary of the hunger strikes should be times of great celebration for the Irish. The actions of those who stood up and fought for independence in 1916 and the later hungers strikers of 1981 represent the best of Ireland. They typify a valiant spirit that has endured much suffering over the years.

The 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising and 25th anniversary of the hunger strikes should be times of great celebration for the Irish. The actions of those who stood up and fought for independence in 1916 and the later hungers strikers of 1981 represent the best of Ireland. They typify a valiant spirit that has endured much suffering over the years.

The parallel between the two events is very real. The actions of those who fought in 1916 charted the path that led to independence, while the hunger strikes began the move within republicanism away from violence and toward a peaceful political settlement. The soldiers of the Easter Rising and the hunger strikers also shared the vision of an independent and united Ireland.

This spirit of the Easter Rising has over the years seen Ireland rapidly grow into one of the major states of Europe. If anyone on the island of Ireland needed convincing of the merits of independence the way in which the country has developed over the past 90 years should provide a positive answer.

Perhaps, those ‘no surrender’ unionists in the north should look at the way in which the Irish economy has advanced over recent years. From their perspective surely it would be better to be a central part of a united Ireland rather than an outlying region of the UK. The British government has already made it clear that it will not be subsidising the north of Ireland much longer.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has called for a public renewal of the ideals that led the men of 1916 to take the actions that they did. Looking forward there needs to be a debate about what it really does mean to be Irish. In many ways Ireland as a young country is at a crossroads. Economic prosperity has brought wealth to Ireland but this has also had a demeaning effect on many of the traditional Irish values.

This has seen some of the least edifying elements of British culture spreading across the Irish Sea. The Thatcherite born obsession with materialism. The birth of a belief that greed is good. An intolerance toward the stranger whether they be asylum seeker, traveller or migrant worker. A penny pinching attitude that treats elderly people and the more vulnerable in society as second class citizens of less value somehow because they do not produce. A reckless disregard for the environment. These are all unpleasant trends that have shown signs of taking root in Ireland recently.

On the world stage, there is the relationship with America. What does it say about our own Irish identity when so many of Ireland’s leading politicians spend St Patrick’s Day in Washington? The links with America are strong, born of the high numbers among the diaspora that have finished up in that country. However, the love affair between the Irish and American governments has become too one sided. This is an element of Irish life that Bertie Ahern himself would do well to reflect upon. The support that the Irish Government has given to the US Government’s illegal war in Iraq has undoubtedly brought the country into international disrepute. Thankfully, Ireland did not send troops to Iraq but it has aided the American Government by allowing war planes to use Shannon Airport. Perhaps even more seriously the Americans have been using Irish airports to run rendition flights taking prisoners to East European and Middle Eastern destinations for torture purposes. What would those who fought in 1916 have thought of such actions by an Irish state that many gave their lives to establish?

These are not the actions of a neutral Ireland that respects the spirit of international law. In looking to the future, the traditional Irish values of friendship and international solidarity need to be reasserted. The first 90 years should have given Ireland the experience and confidence to promote values of peace on the world stage. The vitality of the Celtic Tiger economy needs to be harnessed for the common good of all. The values of those who fought in the Easter Rising need to be renewed and very much built upon as the country moves toward unification and greater prosperity for all.

© 2006 Irish Republican News