I’m not quite sure if the political establishment in Ireland is embarrassed, ashamed or terrified by the 2016 centenary of the Irish Revolution but there is definitely something amiss in the way they are reacting to the approaching anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. After four years of stonewalling from various representatives of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition the emergence of widespread public disquiet has finally forced some action by the government. However the actions witnessed so far seem just as bad, or possibly worse, than the months of prevarications that preceded them.
To say that Fine Gael and Labour Party politicians are reluctant to celebrate the establishment of their own state is to put it mildly. Several government minsters and TDanna have perfected a form of rhetorical moonwalking when it comes to discussing the most appropriate way to commemorate the Easter Rising; retreating backwards from every conversation while seemingly moving forward. It is truly a wondrous thing to behold: sweat-browed politicos shimmying under the public spotlight. That is not to say that some FG and Labour folk don’t have a direct family link to the events of April 1916. They may well have had great-grandparents “out” during the insurrection. Though given the hesitancy and evasion one might wonder the colour of their uniforms: serge green or khaki brown?
So to the current examples of the omnishambles that has now become government policy in relation to the 2016 centenary. From an obviously incredulous Éanna Ó Caollaí in the Irish Times:
“A video published last night to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising has been criticised for not including any mention of the uprising or of the executed signatories of the Proclamation.
The 80 second promotional video – titled Ireland Inspires 2016 – was published to coincide with the launch last night of the 2016 Centenary programme at the GPO.
A second version of the video updated on the ireland.ie website this afternoon features a lingering shot of a copy of the Proclamation set against a photograph of a burnt-out GPO.
Both videos feature footage of prominent figures including Ian Paisley, Queen Elizabeth, Bono, David Cameron and Bob Geldof but other than a brief glimpse of the proclamation document at the beginning of the newly-updated video, at no point are Pádraig Mac Piarais, James Connolly or indeed any of the other executed 1916 leaders mentioned in the piece.
Publication of the video last night was met with a largely negative reaction…
Both versions of the video feature references to social media companies Facebook and LinkedIn that have established operations in Ireland in recent years.”
If you think that is bad, well there is worse to follow:
“The official Ireland 2016 website has also been criticised after translations of texts, including an excerpt from the 1916 Proclamation, were found to closely resemble translations processed by online translating tool Google Translate.
Several excerpts match results processed by Google Translate, including grammatical errors and errors in punctuation.”
“…the mistake happened because the Department sent the English text to an external company which was contracted to design the website.
That company used Google Translate to get a draft, or holding, version of the Irish text to appear on the page to see how much space it would require, thus enabling the company to design around it.
That draft version should have been replaced by the official Irish translation which was later supplied by the Department.
This did not happen when the website first went live, but the offending text has now been removed and replaced by the official and correct Irish version.”
Yes, because there is a dearth of web-design companies in Ireland with Irish-speaking employees who could have made such a translation (you couldn’t throw a stone in an IT seminar in Dublin without hitting an Irish-speaker!). However we are not finished yet. For who heaves into view but Ivana Bacik, the Labour Party’s consolation-prize seat-warmer in Seanad Éireann, with this message in the Irish Times:
“The parade to commemorate the centenary of the Rising in 2016 should not be over-militaristic, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik has said. “I was very struck when I watched the parade in 2006, which was the last time there was a full military parade,’’ she added. “I found it troubling.’’
Ms Bacik said she felt at that time the Rising was being commemorated in a way that seemed almost to celebrate the military and weapons. “It made me uncomfortable,’’ she added.”
Which is somewhat odd considering that Senator Bacik is completely untroubled by Irish government minsters and politicians attending military ceremonies in Britain to commemorate their fallen patriots:
“Ivana Bacik (Lab) said she welcomed the “positive news’’ that Ireland had been invited to participate in the British Armistice day event and that the Irish ambassador would lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in London next month.”
Could we borrow a line from Orwell? All war-dead are equal, but some war-dead are more equal than others? Talking of which, from The Journal:
“A GROUP REPRESENTING relatives of those who took part in the 1916 Rising have boycotted the launch of the Government’s series of commemoration events.
The 1916 Relatives Association dismissed tonight’s event at the GPO as “stunt politics”.
The group said they have “no confidence” in Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, after she “clearly demonstrated she had no understanding as to the plans for 2016″ at a meeting yesterday.
The association said that they were unhappy when details of the planned events reported in the media today differed from what a senior official from Humphrey’s department had told them yesterday.
Una McNulty, a spokesperson for the association, said that its members felt like they had only been invited to tonight’s event “merely to act as pawns in a political stunt that wants us there simply as a photo opportunity”.”
The problem with an unfinished revolution is that sooner or later people may get it into their heads to finish it. Which may in part explain the nervousness of the Irish continuity state. As for myself? Well… Viva La Revolución!