A bit late, but only had time and the energy to jot down the following thoughts at this point.
The other week I happened to stumble upon another of the interminable debates about the commemoration for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, with the focus of the discussion right back on Moore Street and its possible rehabilitation/renovation, this one on the radio show of Sean O’Rourke. Enter the descendants of some of those involved in the Rising, once again given a broad swath of airtime in which to air their views as part of their “Relative Association”. A few points in response:
- Being a descendent of an Easter Rising veteran does not give you any greater right to decide or dictate how it is to be remembered, especially 100 years later.
I mean this should be an obvious point, right? These groups are going around acting as if they have some kind of inherent right to tell the (elected) government of the day what to do on this issue, and all apparently on the basis that they are three generations out from the people involved.
So what? The Easter Rising does not belong to these people. Especially if the claim is being made on such a flimsy basis. If I walked into a meeting to decide how best to commemorate the Royal Munster Fusiliers 100 years on and started demanding (because that’s what these groups are doing – demanding) exact aspects of the commemoration to be carried out according to my desires, I’d be laughed out the door, and rightfully so. Why should we give any extra credence to people who are descended from the Easter Risers? You’re not Padraig Pearse or James Connolly. You never knew them, anymore than I know them.
I wish we could get some pushback from the government and other “opposed” parties on this point, because it genuinely baffles me, how much undue airtime and respect has been given over on the sheer basis of distant bloodline. And speaking of demands…
- Discussions such as this need compromise, not demands.
I hate hearing that word in any missive on the nature of commemoration, because it is s direct way of shutting down conversation. “Demanding” things helps nobody, and discourages the art of compromise, which is supposed to be what government is about after all. Who are these people, without any kind of popular mandate, to demand anything anyway? If you want to talk and discuss, fine. But this outward show of demanding this and that is both unhelpful to the larger issue and deeply disrespectful. Of course, a lot of these fringe groups will try and make themselves seem far more impressive and important than they really are through the use of such words.
- Pick your targets.
Isn’t it amazing, how groups such as these focus on the national government, while ignoring other institutions, like Dublin City Council, who arguably have a much higher degree of control of the project? Of course, I’m sure it has nothing to do with a pre-existing enmity because of other matters, or any kind of tie-in to a political agenda held by the membership. Hey, look who they share a stage with!
- Do not dare try and whitewash the military side of the Rising to suit your modern agenda.
There was a repeated talking point from several different people in the course of the program, downplaying or deflecting the Easter Rising as a military exercise, in favour of focusing on the “culture” of the Easter Risers. I hate this attempted whitewash of history, which surely stems from an anti-militaristic stance many of this people have today, which does not mesh so well with the glorification of Pearse and company I suppose. To ignore or deflect from the Easter Rising as a military exercise is obscene, and does an immense disservice to the 466 people who died in it. Maybe the fact that 254 of them were unarmed civilians rankles a bit. Or maybe it is the simple reality that the Easter Rising was botched militarily. And that might reflect badly on the deified ancestors. Regardless, cut it the hell out. It’s disrespectful and obscuring.
- Stop aggrandising.
On different occasions, I heard people involved with this movement describe Moore Street as “the most important street in Irish history” and claim that the Easter Rising made various independence movements throughout the world, such as in India, possible. This kind of historical aggrandisement is hyperbolistic and unnecessary, a pathetic way to try and make the “claim” on Moore Street bigger than it is and more important than it is. Regardless of what these people think, the popular consciousness associates the Easter Rising more with the GPO than Moore Street.
I don’t like these people, and I make no attempt to hide that fact. I find them, their movement and their statements, condescending, dishonest, arrogant and wrapped up in contemporary political movements to an unhealthy extent. We should not be giving too much heed to these people, who have played their part in the stagnation of Moore Street too, whether they would care to admit it or not. The centenary decade needs clearer heads to be in charge and making decisions.