Current Affairs History Politics

The Real Subversives In Ireland

John Redmond British Army Recruitment Poster
John Redmond For The Death Of Ireland
John Redmond – For The Death Of Ireland (larger image available at

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.

That is what the British apologists who populate Ireland’s contemporary political and media élites cannot forgive – or forget.

For more on this subject please read “Remembering to Forget: An essay on Ireland and WW1” by Michael Carley.

27 comments on “The Real Subversives In Ireland

  1. Throw a bucket of water on Bruton and England, they’re stuck together like two dogs.


  2. People used to be permanently exiled for making this kind of insult. Lately it seems people get away with, and are often rewarded for, such incidious and uninformed comments. I wish that would change.

    I don’t know enough to give an opinion on the details, but from where I stand this guy is being egregiously disrespectful as well as obtuse. It might have been another thing if he were a genuine pacifist speaking out, but even then I don’t think that position in this case is sustainable. He’s deliberately cherry picking his examples with malicious intent, and as you pointed out, if you want to talk about violence, how about the attempted genocide of the Irish people? I genuinely dislike the use of violence, but it is sometimes very necessary. As long as we live in a world in which you can be killed for who you are, fighting to remain who you are is sometimes the only option. Handing over autonomy instead isn’t conceiveable.

    How many people took him seriously rather than labeling him the next Sarah Palin? What seems worse than his words is the power others are according him and his ideas– a power he obviously has not earned nor deserves. Pardon my opinion, but what is remembered lives: this guy needs to be forgotten.


    • Burton is no pacifist but an ardent Euro-federalist, a proponent of a NATO-linked EU armed forces and an opponent to Irish neutrality. Hypocritical to say the least.


  3. Very much agree ASF. One thing that Bruton, curiously, never mentions is that Redmond, this paragon of democratic virtue, was ferociously opposed to suffrage for women. As far as I’m concerned that alone, even were we to ignore all else, tells us everything we need to know.


  4. Euro Unionists and british nationalists are two cheeks of the same feckin arse. Nuff said


  5. ‘John Redmond sent a hundred thousand Irish men into battle in 1916 to defend an empire in defiance of the Irish people’ makes no sense. Those men *were* a large tranche of the Irish people (were they acting in defiance of themselves?), and they chose to enlist – they were not ‘sent’.

    Our history is far more complex than your ideology would allow.


    • Those men were encouraged to go to their deaths in large part by John Redmond and the leadership of the IPP who led the recruitment effort in Ireland on behalf of the British armed forces 1914-16. It was Redmond who repeatedly demanded that the INV be allowed to participate in the “war effort” and who campaigned for the creation of a so-called Irish division. He castigated those who opposed Irish participation and made speech after speech lauding the “sacrifice in blood” of Irishmen in British uniform in defence of the empire. Disingenuous talk of “small nations” or the co-religionists of Belgium and Poland cut no ice with his critics who saw it for the facile hyperbole that it was.

      The Irish people as a whole showed their opposition to the war by their proportionally lower levels of recruitment compared to Britain and opposition to conscription. The IPP and Redmond were forced to take an anti-conscription stance because of the political crisis and rise of Sinn Féin domestically, not out of concern for the further countless Irish casualties that would have resulted. Joe Devlin in particular was almost hysterical in his pro-war speeches.

      John Redmond on Ireland’s position within the British Empire:

      “”I challenge anyone in this House to quote a statement of mine… that so long as we remain partners in the Empire at all, and so long as the Act of Union remains unrepealed, the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is to be or can be abrogated.”

      “To talk about Ireland separating from the Empire is the most utter nonsense. We are not asking for separation… Separation is impossible; if it were not impossible, it is undesirable.”

      John Redmond calling for Irish participation in World War I, 1914:

      “The interests of Ireland – of the whole of Ireland – are at stake in this war. This war is undertaken in the defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would be a disgrace for ever to our country and a reproach to her manhood and a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history. I say to you, therefore, your duty is twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers around me, and I say to you: “Go on drilling and make yourself efficient for the Work, and then account yourselves as men, not only for Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right, of freedom, and religion in this war”.”

      John Redmond on the failure to implement Home Rule and Irish recruitment to the British military, 1914:

      “Of course, when everybody is preoccupied by the War, and when everyone is endeavouring—and the endeavour will be made as enthusiastically in Ireland as anywhere else in the United Kingdom—to bring about the creation of an Army, the idea is absurd, and cannot be entertained by any intelligent man, that under these circumstances a new Government and a new Parliament could be erected in Ireland.

      An allusion has been made to recruiting in Ireland. A rather ungenerous and unjust allusion was made by the Leader of the Opposition to a speech which I made about a month ago. He said that that speech was an offer of conditional loyalty. It was nothing of the kind! That speech was an appeal. …it was an appeal, at the same time, to the Government and the War Office to enable the National Volunteers to fulfil that duty. I made no condition of any sort or kind…”

      John Redmond on the success of his recruitment efforts for the British Army, 1914:

      “What, I ask you, will be the record now that the sentiment of the whole Irish people undoubtedly is with you in this War? And what material it is! I have been moved, and I dare say every man in this House has been moved, by some of the war stories that have come back from the seat of war. There is the story of the Munster Fusiliers, who stood by their guns all day, and in the end dragged them back to their lines themselves. There was, too, the story in yesterday’s papers from the lips of the wounded French soldiers, who described how the Irish Guards charged with the bayonet three regiments of German Cavalry. As the wounded French soldier said, they charged singing “a strange song that I have never heard before.” The newspaper man asked the wounded soldier what were the words, and the answer was, “I cannot tell you what the words were, but it was something about God saving Ireland.” I saw these men marching through London on their way to the station. They marched here past this building singing “God save Ireland.”

      It is unnecessary for me to tell this House of the magnificent material that the country has at its disposal in the Irish soldier, and the sneers that we have heard are a little too hard on us. The “Times,” in an article to-day, says:— Nationalist Ireland still disowns her gallant soldiers, flaunts placards against enlistment, and preaches sedition in her newspapers. That is a cruel libel on Ireland. The men who are circulating hand-bills against enlistment—the men who are publishing little wretched rags once a week or once a month—which none of us ever see—who are sending them by some mysterious agency through the post in this country, and day by day to Members—these are the little group of men who never belonged to the National Constitutional party at all, but who have been all through, and are to-day, our bitterest enemies.

      I say that the manhood of Ireland will spring to your aid in this War. Speaking personally for myself, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that on hundreds of platforms in this country during the last few years I have publicly promised, not only for myself, but in the name of my country, that when the rights of Ireland were admitted by the democracy of England, that Ireland would become the strongest arm in the defence of the Empire. The test has come sooner than I, or anyone, expected. I tell the Prime Minister that that test will be honourably met. I say for myself, that I would fed myself personally dishonoured if I did not say to my fellow countrymen, as I say today to them here, and as I will say from the public platform when I go back to Ireland, that it is their duty, and should be their honour, to take their place in the firing line in this contest.”

      John Redmond on conscription, 1915:

      “Conscription is not with me a matter of principle; it is a question of expediency. If you prove that conscription is necessary to end the war, then the case so far as I am concerned is conceded.”

      Indeed our history is far more complex. And certainly more complex than the simplistic and ultimately ideological fantasies of John Bruton and co.


      • ‘Those men were encouraged to go to their deaths …’ – but most who went didn’t die. Those who returned were largely shunned, as they didn’t fit the new official orthodoxy (which was inculcated into all of us at school). None the less, far more Irish people have family and other connections to First World War soldiers than to participants in the Easter Rising.

        However you try to spin it, the fact remains that vastly more Irishmen chose to fight in the First World War than to fight in the Easter Rising. Your ‘The Irish people as a whole showed their opposition to the war by their proportionally lower levels of recruitment compared to Britain’ is laughable. It’s like saying that soccer is unpopular in Argentina because it’s more popular in Brazil. Ideologues are rarely logical.

        To what extent the Easter Rising was justified *is* debatable. It was unpopular at the time but, as we know, the executions that followed set off a chain of events that led to the foundation of what is now our Republic,and the recourse to violence under the circumstances that pertained at the time is understandable. Some form of Irish statehood would probably have eventuated without 1916 and the 1919–21 war, also with partition. We would probably be in much the same situation as we are now. In my opinion it is a pity, though, that the events of those years set the template for later justification of arbitrary and whimsical violence by self-appointed ‘Republicans’, which continues to this day.


        • Forgive me if I mistake you but are you arguing that John Redmond’s role in sending tens of thousands of Irish men to battle on behalf of the British Empire is somehow justifiable because the majority of those men survived the experience? What of the families and communities left behind by those who didn’t? What of the physical and psychological burdens of those who survived? What of those Germans and Turks killed at the hands of Irish men? Do their lives count for naught? Are only British lives lost at the hands of Irish “rebels” counted on the great scoring card of historical judgement?

          I had nothing “inculcated” in me at school in relation to the historic British Occupation of my country, any more than a modern French man or woman had in relation to the historic German Occupation of their nation. There are nuances in history, shades of grey, that rightly need to be brought to the fore but that does not obscure the general thrust of historical narrative. Claiming that “…more Irish people have family and other connections to First World War soldiers than to participants in the Easter Rising” is an interesting if contestable point. However it tells us nothing. More Irish people also have family and other connections to those who participated at all levels and in all parts of the country during the 1916-21 Revolution, including the War of Independence. Do you deny those people their historical memory? What of the hundreds of thousands who repeatedly voted for Sinn Féin 1918-21, far more than ever donned a British uniform? Are they not worthy of being heard?

          There is no need for spin. Redmond condemns himself with his own words.

          Argentina and Brazil were not in a single political union where both were regarded as components of the same nation-state. We are talking about events in the so-called “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. That is why the very differing reactions to the conflict, from social to cultural, are of import.

          To debate whether the Easter Rising was “justifiable” is a valid exercise if done with a proper understanding of the period and Irish-British history in general. Bruton in his speech clearly proves himself ignorant of both.

          One can criticise those who planned and staged the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 on all sorts of levels without questioning the overall nature of the Resistance or justifying the Occupation. The Easter Rising is no different.

          The claim that an independent Irish state would have emerged from British rule without armed force simply does not stand up to the acid test of historical reality. In the 1918 general election the vast majority of people living on the island nation of Ireland voted for autonomy. The British refused to recognise the aspirations of the Irish people expressed by that vote. In the 1920 local elections the vast majority of people living on the island nation of Ireland again voted for autonomy. The British yet again refused to recognise the aspirations of the Irish people expressed by that vote. Finally in the 1921 general election an increased majority of people living on the island nation of Ireland voted once again for autonomy. And yet again the British refused to accept the vote.

          Three votes for independence in four years by the Irish people. Three refusals to acquiesce to those vote by the British who instead reacted with violent suppression.

          Irish Republicans did not introduce the gun to Irish politics. They simply responded to the pre-existing guns of the British.

          Without those Republicans neither you or I would enjoy the democratic freedoms in a sovereign and independent nation-state of our own that we do today. However flawed they and it may be. We are the heirs of Pearse not Redmond and for that we may be thankful.


          • ‘Forgive me if I mistake you’ – you do. My point is that those who were ‘sent’ by Redmond (clearly having no free will or agency of their own), if they survived, were, shunned by people who bought into the same simplistic nationalism as you do, which by then was the ideology of the state (in tandem with obscurantist Catholicism).

            I don’t have enough time to respond to your various points but, on your own figures, it is a matter of simple mathematics that far more Irish people have family connections with WWI soldiers than with 1916 rebels. Of course a straightforward nationalist narrative was drummed into you, and me, at school – it is only in the past couple of decades that the existence, and possible worth, of Irishmen who fought for Britain has begun to be recognized.

            Home Rule was delayed by the war but would inevitably have come into existence. As I said, the impatience of those who grew tired of waiting for it in the 1916 to 1921 period is entirely understandable. It’s somewhat rich that you cite ‘the democratic freedoms in a sovereign and independent nation-state’ given that the self-appointed clique of ‘Republicans’ whom you supported were until recently trying to subvert and destroy it, while claiming to be our legitimate government.


            • One further point that’s worth considering is the clear support for the independence struggle at a broad level through various manifestations of protest well beyond Republicans during the 1918-1921 period – strikes, etc. But it’s absolutely essential to be clear that nationalism (and Republicanism) weren’t manifestations of 1916 alone, that they were a continual presence, if waxing and waning in influence and strength, throughout the preceding century and before. In other words to focus overly much on those involved directly with 1916 doesn’t as such indicate more general sentiment (any more than the numbers who went and fought in the British Army indicates a political orientation towards the British empire or the then status quo).

              It’s also fair to say that none of this history is an attack on the individuals who fought in the British Army in that period (or indeed after). It is possible, for me at least, to detach them from the cause they supposedly were fighting for.


              • WBS, I agree with all of that. Ireland at the turn of the century was bubbling beneath the surface with political, cultural, social and economic unrest and very far from the bucolic picture some historians would have us believe. It was in a pre-revolutionary fervour that had numerous causes. Growing trades unionism, organised labour and industrial unrest, widespread and sustained, was part of that. All of which was expressed in the period 1916-21 (-23).

                If Irish history has taught us anything it is the cyclic nature of Irish resistance to British rule, well before any Jacobin notions reached these shores.

                One can – and always should – see the man inside the uniform. I do not blame young men from Dublin or Belfast, Cork or Derry, for taking the King’s Shilling during that period. As they say in France no one has the right to judge those who have lived under an Occupation until they have done so themselves.


            • Brendano, if you object to the term “sent” then use persuaded, cajoled, bullied, whatever is your preference. The end results were the same. John Redmond was the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and of the INV, its military wing, and the self-declared “leader of Nationalist Ireland”. He cannot escape responsibility for his actions or what those actions led to. It is incredible to me that you seek to whitewash his hands of the blood that stains them while condemning Pearse and those around him for doing the very same thing. Except, unlike Redmond, they led from the front not the back and did what they did for a free Ireland, not in defence of an Imperial Britain.

              If your position is that of pacifism in opposition to all militarism then at least castigate both for their perceived wrong-doings. It is an honourable view to take. If you oppose those Irish people who led and fought in the War of Independence then you must also oppose those Irish and British people who led and fought in World War One. Otherwise to criticise one source of violence in favour of another is simple hypocrisy.

              More Irish people voted against British rule in Ireland in 1918, 1920 and 1921 than fought as British soldiers in WWI. Arguably more Irish people participated in and were effected by the 1916-21 Revolution, directly and indirectly, than is the case with WWI. As you pointed out there is more to our history than simple rhetoric.

              There was nothing inevitable about “Home Rule” in Ireland during the 20th century and it is counter-factual to argue otherwise. Leave aside the “alternative history” fantasy of the Apologist school and look at what actually did happen. The real historical record. The Irish voted for autonomy several times, via the ballot box, and the British responded in the negative. It was politics – and peace – on their terms.

              The government elected in 1918 by the people of Ireland was either their legitimate government or it was not. If not then you argue that the British government was the legitimate one on this island nation. If it was then you must accept all that led to its establishment.

              1916-21 was not 1966-2005. Red herrings do not an argument make.


              • It’s difficult to debate with someone who addresses what he wishes you had said. I did not condemn Pearse nor ‘whitewash’ Redmond – that is the whole point. It is not so simple. Nor did I criticize those who fought in the Easter Rising or the War of Independence – I said their position was understandable. I won’t even begin to address the ‘we must be against all violence or none’ hogwash so beloved of Provo apologists, as it is patently nonsensical.

                The general election of 1918 gave a mandate to Sinn Féin and the IRA. There was no mandate in 1916 (it is arguable that none was needed), and clearly public opinion swung massively after the Rising, due to the execution of the leaders. But those who fought in the First World War could not be accountable to public opinion that did not yet exist.

                I would say that if you looked at the writings of Irish soldiers in WWI you would see that not many of them saw themselves as having been persuaded, cajoled or bullied by Redmond – this is surely something you are projecting into the past. Have a read of Patrick MacGill, Tom Kettle or Robert Gregory and see if you can come up with any evidence for the alleged bullying. I would say that most people knew their own minds. It is patronizing to suggest otherwise.


              • Anyway, I don’t wish to labour this. My initial point was that your ‘John Redmond sent a hundred thousand Irish men into battle in 1916 to defend an empire in defiance of the Irish people’ makes no sense whatsoever. That stands.


              • If the best defence that can be offered of the Redmondite record is a debate over semantics the case is a parlous one indeed 😉

                What the vast majority of people in Ireland wanted in 1914 was political autonomy, partial or complete, not participation in a war between rival imperial powers. That was illustrated by their generally apathetic or hostile response throughout the conflict, notably excluding the Unionist communities who suffered losses far in excess of their numbers.

                However one wishes to phrase it Redmond and his coterie were crucial in persuading thousands of young Irish men to join the British Forces 1914-1916, some from within the IPP-controlled INV. If the IPP had taken a principled pacifist or neutral position in opposition to the war many, many lives would have been saved. And not just Irish ones. In that sense Redmond defied the wishes of the Irish people as a whole and the IPP was already paying the price for it well before the Easter Rising in terms of local ill-feeling and animosity.

                However it seems we are both belabouring our points of view so I’ll leave it there. Thanks for the Comments. Even if I disagree with them they are most welcome.


        • I guess when Pearse remarked on the ‘murder machine’ that existed in Ireland, he was conclusively proved right when we view the numbers of irish men who donned the british uniform.
          If these these irish people hadnt enlisted in the british murder machine and instead fought for their own country we may not have had partition and the mess it created thereafter.


          • Except that those of a Unionist persuasion obviously didn’t want a united, independent Ireland. Full-blown civil war on a Balkan scale (rather than a small-scale guerrilla war) might have resulted.


            • What school did Brendano go to and when? – I went to an all Irish Christian Brothers school (hardly at the cutting edge of Dublin 4 anti-nationalist revisionism one would have thought) in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the idea that even then and even there nationalist ideology was “drummed into” anyone is utterly absurd. On the contrary the history syllabus (not to mention the English syllabus) were very strongly hostile to Irish nationalism. This was also the era when John A Murphy, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Ruth Dudley Edwards and assorted SFWP hacks were never off the airwaves. If anyone was drumming propaganda into the masses it was the British nationalist revisionist cabal – (in fairness Murphy was slightly more nuanced in his historical understanding than the others). Brendano plays the usual condescending passive aggressive revisionist game – anyone who disagrees with Bruton & Co is being simplistic, and doesn’t grasp the complexity of history, don’t you know. Yet he brazenly dodges ASF’s very telling question about whether or not he condemns the mindless slaughter of World War One – a question he limply dismisses as “Provo hogwash”. What evasive nonsense! You don’t have to be a Provo to see WWI as grotesque carnage. The facts are these: almost all Irish revisionists – from Harris to Dudley Edwards to Gay Byrne to Kevin Myers are avid fans of that grotesque war – and most of them are also fans of more recent Anglo-American invasions. That makes their protestations about the violence of 1916 and the War of Independence utterly hypocritical. And by the way this is not necessarily an argument about the rights and wrongs of pacifism – by any reckoning the Anglo-American forces and their allies flouted every civilised norm in these conflicts. Until Brendano makes clear his own views on these events it’s impossible to take his pseudo-moralistic hand-wringing seriously.


              • It is odd, is it not, that those who scream the loudest over any military manifestation of Irish nationalism in our history are the very ones who elsewhere fetishize over British and American militarism, both current and past.

                The Eoghan Harris types of this world will wail and gnash their teeth over the fate of those British soldiers who fought in WWI (and WII) while condemning those Irish soldiers who fought in the WofI. It is surreal that no one calls them on their hypocrisy.

                I also find it telling, and we have direct experience of it here on ASF, that the most anti-republican of views emanate from those who otherwise are quite happy to see bombs dropped by British and American aircraft all over the Muslim world. And that is the mildest of their non-Ireland related opinions.


  6. Graham Ennis

    I shudder. There is a Quisling clique in Ireland, who would betray all the struggles and personal sacrifice of the last 800 years, for their own ends. Fine Gael is now on it’s well deserved exit from Irish politics, as people finally see through the smoke and mirrors to where their true allegiance lies. These people are “Re-integrationists” , who are interested in nothing and no one but themselves. always confront such people with the simple fact of the Irish Genocide. On the eve of the “Famine” there were 9.5 million people living in Ireland. by 1860, there were less than three million. More than six million disappeared, dad or fled, as economic and political refugees. Enough said. Not even the Jews suffered as proportionately. The British government killed, proportionately, a greater number of Irish than Hitler did Jews. is this properly taught in irish schools?…..of course not. I weep. poor bloody Ireland.


    • Graham Ennis
      It is not taught in irish schools, in fact all sorts of excuses are made to deflect or minimise the responsibility of englands true involvement in the oppression of the irish. The modern day ‘murder machine’ that prevails in irish society today has successfully managed to foster the guilt onto the irish themselves.


  7. What ever about dying for home rule to prove you are not disloyal to an empire so that in turn said empire gives you a bit of autonomy, killing a German for it seems a bit gimpish. That this idea as a strategy is considered preferable by some, to shooting a British soldier, someone with more impact on this country’s development than a German soldier, I don’t think has been properly teased out in the niceties and all the emotion. How many Germans needed to die so that the British could trust the Irish with home rule or was it more important to the generals that Irish soldiers be shot by Germans without an expectation to shot back at them, truly a noble sacrifice if that was the case.


    • Indeed. Shea. Irish soldiers in WWI did not just die. They caused the deaths of others. And all in pursuit of a nebulous promise by a desperate colonial government and parliament they knew could not trust and political leaders at home even more untrustworthy.

      As many people asked during the period where was John Redmond, the self-proclaimed “leader of Nationalist Ireland”, from 1914 to 1918? The answer was living in Britain with his family and friends, a life of London clubs and stately homes interrupted by occasional visits back home to drum up more recruits to feed into the imperial mincing machine.


  8. Isn’t it about Empire? 1916 was a blow against Empire, wasn’t it? World War One was a blow for Empire, see what happened to the German and Ottoman ones after the war- given to Britain and France.
    Whether we like it or not, and personally I don’t, a lot of Irish played less than honourable roles in far flung place like India and Kenya. The conquest of the country as 1. a source of cannon fodder for Empire 2. food for Britain and specifically the army was almost complete by 1914. Connolly, an ex- British soldier himself, called those who joined the British army “economic conscripts”. This of course was part of the story of the Empire- when Iraq was throwing shapes in 1919-20 over half of the British soldiers sent to deal with it were form India.
    Bruton is true to himself- in favour of Empire today and 100 years ago.


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