On March 31, I published an article about Republican Easter Commemorations in the North of Ireland on this blog. The article was republished on the widely read blog The Pensive Quill, run by former Irish Republican prisoner and academic Anthony McIntyre. Within a very short period, the article was read a few thousand times on both blogs combined and shared numerous times on social media. This wide readership might indicate that my views, expressed in the article hit the nail on the head.
The following day, Martin Galvin, Irish American lawyer and former director of the Irish Northern Aid Committee, rang me in Dublin. He read the article on The Pensive Quill and wanted to speak with me about it. Galvin works for a radio show on Irish politics hosted by John McDonagh on WBAI New York. On the following day, they had Anthony McIntyre on the show, discussing among other topics, my article and the Easter Commemoration in Coalisland.
McIntyre first spoke about the official state commemorations in Dublin and went on to suggest that “there are many people who don’t feel included by the way, commemorations are handled.” Then, referring to my article and the Unfinished Revolution parade in Coalisland, McIntyre explained:
There are people who simply don’t believe that the type of parade that was held in Dublin, the type of parade Martin McGuiness attended and supported actually in any way resemble the ethos of the men of 1916. And in a strange way, whether one agrees with 1916 or not, the people who most resemble the leaders of 1916 are those Republicans today who ideologically, genuinely ideologically, those who genuinely hold the belief, that it is those Republicans who most resemble the men of 1916.
In fact, the Easter Rising in 1916 was a rebellion not only against the colonial rulers but also against constitutional nationalism, partition, and home rule by those who did not see any other possibility to achieve their aims than by taking up arms. Whether observers or readers agree with the ideology of those who marched in Coalisland on Easter Sunday or not, one must agree that the vision of those marching in Coalisland is very close to the political ideas of the leaders of 1916. That vision is a united Irish Republic.
Those who staged the rebellion in 1916 were marginalised by constitutional nationalism. Similarly, those who organised and participated in the militant Republican parades throughout Ireland feel excluded from the current political process and, thus, turn their support towards radical forces within their community. However, there is also a section of the unionist and loyalist population that feels excluded from the peace process, as the Flags protests illustrated. That this segment is growing again in both nationalist and loyalist communities, 18 years after the signing of Good-Friday-Agreement, should, indeed, be a worrying development for those trying to uphold the status quo in the North of Ireland.
This is what McIntyre said in his talk with McDonagh and Galvin on WBAI NY:
(…) There are many people who don’t feel included by the way, commemorations are handled and the second largest parade in the North of Ireland was a parade which was not one of these inclusive parades. It was not a Sinn Féin supported parade, the very parade Dieter referred to. There are people who simply don’t believe that the type of parade that was held in Dublin, the type of parade Martin McGuiness attended and supported actually in any way resemble the ethos of the men of 1916. And in a strange way, whether one agrees with 1916 or not, the people who most resemble the leaders of 1916 are those Republicans today who ideologically, genuinely ideologically, those who genuinely hold the belief, that it is those Republicans who most resemble the men of 1916. Because the men of 1916 were not operating in an intrinsic democratic framework. They were small minority within a minority and what they are opposed was British rule. They opposed British rule, they were not opposing anything democratic. As Brian Hanley pointed out, 15% of the people in Ireland had the right to vote in a national election. The British ruled largely by force. And as Brian Hanley says, everybody knew it. But the point I am trying to make is that the small minority of people who made the revolution in 1916 are probably closer in outlook and methodology to the people who were marching in the Colour Party in Tyrone last Sunday, then they were to any other parade throughout Ireland. Because these parades in many ways, the official parades are actually organised to forget. They are really trying to forget what the men of 1916 stood for. I know this is uncomfortable for a lot of people in Ireland today to makes that comparison. (…)
You can listen to the full show on WBAI NY here: