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7th-Nov-2015 05:18 pm - An alternative history of the Easter Rising
Patrick Murphy
Irish News
07 November 2015

The solution is simple. If there are going to be several competing centenary commemorations of the 1916 Rising next year, we can solve the problem of how to accommodate them all by doing what we now do best in Ireland - re-writing history.

We can create a revised version of the Rising, so that each group can justify its claim to be the true inheritors of the 1916 ideals. Welcome to Ireland, the land of instant history, where facts are flexible and the truth is a far-off planet.

So here is the (not very) authorised history of the 1916 Rising.

It all began when Pearse was walking down O'Connell Street one day, which was very hard to do at that time, because there was no O'Connell Street.

So he texted James Connolly to ask: "Where am I?" ("That's ridiculous", I hear you shout. You have a point, but is it any more ridiculous than claiming that the IRA's thirty-year war was for "equality" and not for a united Ireland? If we are going to re-write history, we may as well do it properly.)

Connolly replied by writing a pamphlet (Marxists love writing pamphlets) saying that he was busy preparing to serve King (meaning England) and Kaiser (Germany).

(We have reversed Connolly's views to accommodate almost every commemoration next year. Nearly everyone in Ireland now accepts the legitimacy of London rule in the north and Berlin rule, through the EU, across the whole island. So with a swift battering of the keyboard, all groups can now celebrate Irish "independence".)

While passing the GPO, Pearse noticed that it would be a wonderful setting for a rising. But while he was marvelling at the decor, he heard that Roger Casement had been arrested in Kerry.

Casement was later marched through the streets of Tralee to the Dublin train and not a single soul tried to rescue him. "Don't worry, Roger," the townsfolk would have shouted had they bothered to come out. "One day there will be a stadium named after you and your name will be on the lips of every planning official and health and safety officer in the north."

(I'm not sure which group we have re-written that bit for, but it might come in useful.)

So Pearse said: "Let us organise a rising, but it shall be a peaceful rising, because violence is wrong." (That covers the contradiction of preaching peace, while celebrating violence.) So they began their peaceful rising by entering into dialogue with a post office clerk and then engaging in bi-lateral talks, followed by a plenary session - just like they do at Stormont.

They later published the GPO House Agreement whereby the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) would join with all rebel groups to form the IRA, which would later revert to the IRB (Irish Republican Butterfly).They agreed that there should be an IRA for everyone in Ireland.

These IRAs would include the Real, the Surreal, the Continuity, the Intermittent, the Very Disruptive but Really Rather Nice and the Low-calorie, Sugar-free IRA. (I made most of those up, but that does not mean they do not exist. So all dissident groups are historically covered for their ceremonies. All we need now is justification for the individual party political commemorations.)

As the rising began Michael Collins said he would die for Fine Gael, so that it could invent austerity. Connolly said his death would be for the Labour Party, which would help to implement that austerity and de Valera said he would die, but not just yet, so that he could found Fianna Fáil to bankrupt the country.

All the other leaders decided to die for Stormont, so that people could become ministers without standing for election.

So there you have it. Our revised history of 1916 will now allow the various commemorative groups to march, make speeches, pontificate and scorn all rival commemorations.

However, the one thing which none of them will do is to solve the unemployment crisis in Ballymena. Commemorating the rising is seen as an acceptable substitute for failing to implement what it was intended to achieve, including for example, the Proclamation's objective of "the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation".

So the real inheritors of 1916 are neither politicians nor paramilitaries. They are those who, by their actions and principles, commemorate the rising in their daily work. These include for example, the community and voluntary sector, charities, credit unions, GAA clubs, Conradh na Gaeilge and the thousands of ordinary people who make Ireland a better place to live in.

Their history does not need re-writing.

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