1916 letter must be returned
1916 letter must be returned

Sinn Fein has called on the British government to hand back a surrender letter rebel leader Padraig Pearse gave to an English general after the Easter Rising.

Dublin City Council is to write to the British government calling for the return of the letter. Councillor Christy Burke also wants an all-party Dublin City Council delegation to go to the British National Archives in Surrey to check for more 1916 artefacts.

The letter given to General WHM Lowe after Pearse agreed to an unconditional surrender on April 29 1916.

Mr Burke said yesterday: “The British are claiming that the letter is part of their history but it’s rightful resting place should be Ireland.”

The letter says: “In order to prevent the further slaughter of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the members of the Provisional government present at headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and the commandants of the various districts in the city and county will order their commands to lay down arms.”

The Moore Street building became a brief headquarters for the Rising leader after they abandoned the GPO (General Post Office, the rebellion’s headquarters) on Friday April 28th 1916.

Padraig Pearse made the decision to surrender along with Thomas Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Sean MacDermott and William Pearse when they were gathered around the bed of the wounded James Connolly in the building on Easter Saturday.

Mr Burke said having the surrender document returned was important, particularly for young people who did not know much about the Easter Rising.

He wants the letter put into an Easter Rising museum planned for No 16 Moore Street in the capital, where Pearse and his fellow volunteers finally surrendered.

“It’s the only properly handwritten letter left, and we’re going to have a museum, and he was a leader, so think it’s appropriate that we have our history, which is very valuable to us.

“I think it’s important that all aspects of the Rising are on display in the museum.”

The motion the councillor had put before Dublin City Council said: “This council calls on the Irish Government and the Minister for Defence to request from the British Government and the British Ministry of Defence, the handwritten letter by Padraig Pearse, Commander in Chief of the Irish Volunteers in Moore Street at Easter 1916.

“This letter should be preserved when returned, and placed in archives or a museum as part of the collection of historic 1916 artefacts.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News