The twisted psyche of the ruling elites in Ireland is never plainer to see than when one of them emerges from the Big House to criticise the revolutionary stepping stones that led to the establishment of the nation-state they inhabit. And by implication the very existence of the state itself. Former Fine Gael politico and EU careerist John Bruton, probably one of the most inept Taoisigh in living memory, has used a meeting held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing by the British of the “Home Rule” legislation for Ireland in 1914 (severely limited autonomy for the country within the so-called United Kingdom) to effectively condemn his own nation’s resistance to colonial rule. In a speech which defies any rational understanding of European history Burton claims that the 1916 Revolution and subsequent War of Independence were unnecessary and that people must consider the “…damage that has been done to the Irish psyche” by their staging.
Well, in fairness he is right in one way. If the British state had accepted the three votes by the overwhelming number of people living on the island of Ireland at the start of the 20th century in favour of independence there would have been no insurrectionist violence or damage to anyone’s “psyche“. However I suspect that is not what the historically-blinkered Bruton means. In particular he condemns the alleged cultish devotion to “violence” by the first President of the Irish Republic, Patrick Pearse, a man whose life was violently ended in front of a British Army firing squad. No matter that Pearse was originally a pacifist school teacher who only latterly turned to violence as a method of last resort after the repeated failures to pass Home Rule legislation by the British and the state-violence surrounding the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913. Lets not upset the revisionist narrative with something as troublesome as facts.
From the Irish Times:
“Mr Bruton was one of a number of speakers who addressed an event in the Irish Embassy last night to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Home Rule Act. Speaking later to The Irish Times, Mr Bruton said he did not believe that “the problems of Ireland” then were “amenable to solution” by violence.”
That would be Irish violence against the British. As for British violence against the Irish? Y’know, the kind that was inflicted on our people for several hundred years? On that he is unsurprisingly silent.
“The belief in the spiritual cleansing was not just one shared by Pearse at the time, he said, noting that the belief was prevalent in other countries in the run-up to the first World War. “I don’t think that that belief was particularly strong in England at the time but it was the case in other countries, and it played a role in the willingness of countries to take part in the war,” he said.”
So the British didn’t worship at the same altar of military heroism in the decades leading up to WWI as most of the other major powers in Europe? An absolutely extraordinary misrepresentation of the historical record that flies against a wealth of documentary evidence. It seems we are dealing with less a speech and more of a defence of Imperial Britain straight from the pages of a British “Boys Own” annual c.1934!
“Asked if Pearse had “justified” the existence of the IRA, Mr Bruton said: “I suppose so, yes. He could not have been more wrong. Violence is about killing, remember that.”
Later, he said: “It is a very hard to be both a fan of Padraig Pearse and of John Redmond. And I am a Redmondite, and I always have been.””
Would this be the same John Redmond who used political threats and violence to stage a de facto coup within the ranks of the Irish Volunteers in 1914 so that the anti-British military organisation could be brought under the control of Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party. The same Redmond who then built upon his successes in seizing influence within the Volunteers to further split the movement creating the Irish National Volunteers, an armed grouping completely under his control and that of the IPP? The same Redmondite politician who then sent tens of thousands of young Irish men off to die in the service of the British Empire while he stayed well away from any of the actual fighting, even sacrificing his own brother in the process?
You wish to know the difference between Pearse and Redmond?
Patrick Pearse led a thousand Irish men and women into battle in 1916 to establish a democracy in the name of the Irish people.
John Redmond sent a hundred thousand Irish men into battle in 1916 to defend an empire in defiance of the Irish people.
For more on this subject please read “Remembering to Forget: An essay on Ireland and WW1” by Michael Carley.