… it seems all we will see is Sinn Féin continue to insist it has the exclusive and purest interpretation of all that happened in the GPO and elsewhere.
However, in general, the current national debate on the Rising and what it means for modern Ireland is a good one. It is markedly more mature and inclusive than was the case for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1966.
Back then, one of the biggest controversies centred on an article by a Jesuit priest, Fr Francis Shaw, which, because of its perceived inflammatory nature, could only be published six years later when the fervour of the remembrance year had abated.
In essence, he argued the 1916 leaders were blasphemous in timing the Rising for Easter. He argued the thought process which underpinned the rebellion was in direct conflict with a time of such religious significance. He also totally rejected Patrick Pearse’s belief that Irish people during this period needed to be spiritually redeemed by a ‘blood sacrifice’.
A few days ago, another Jesuit, Fr Seamus Murphy, suggested “parts of the Rising’s current commemoration are acceptable, but its totality is deeply disturbing”.
He wished to acknowledge “the bravery and discipline of the insurgents”, while condemning their “irresponsibility” in making Dublin city centre a battleground where more civilians than combatants were likely to die.
However, the core of his argument is that the insurgents did not have a mandate from the Irish people for their actions, insisting: “To celebrate the Rising is to celebrate anti-democratic elitism and bloodlust.
See also Remembering