Prince Charles tribute to the 1916 insurgents, delivered during a reception at Glencairn House Dublin (‘Prince Charles’ Royal tribute to 1916 combatants’, May 12), among a bevy 1916 reptiles, must represent one of the most bizarre acts in the history of Irish-British diplomacy.
It is indeed true that his mother Queen Elizabeth laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance some time ago.
But it must be noted that as a titular head of state visiting another state diplomatic protocol required her to do this.
However her son’s fulsome expression of admiration for a tiny minority of terrorist far-right nationalist militarists, who imposed a dictatorship upon Dublin city against the will of not only the vast majority of the people of Ireland, but even against the will of the majority inside the IRB, and were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians (read McGarry 1916 Rising), and those who tried to quell the brutal attack, including 17 members of the RIC is astounding.
This act on the part of Prince Charles must rank as the only time in modern British history when a Prince of the realm endorsed treason, not only against the crown, but against the vast majority of the people of Ireland over 100 years ago.
Prince Charles commented that the insurgents were fighting for Irish independence.
It might be salutary for him to reflect on the fact that war is a serious matter, and should only be engaged in out of necessity, and mandated by the people in any normal liberal democracy.
The Military Council of the IRB who led the 1916 insurrection were anonymous, and faceless demagogues to most of the people. They were leaders of no one, and certainly no nation.
The national leader of the Irish people was John Redmond, whose Irish Parliamentary Party had won 73 seats in the December 1910 General Election, and sat in the Westminster parliament, along with Viscount Midleton representing the Irish Unionist Party which had 17 seats. William O’Brien of the All for Ireland Party, had 8 seats, and Joseph Chamberlain Liberal Unionist had 2 seats.
This body of elected parliamentary MP’s, were the legitimate political representatives of the Kingdom of Ireland, united with that of the British Crown since 1801.
This was the constitutional status of Ireland, inside a liberal state – though a state sadly at war. A war in which moderate nationalist Ireland was involved.
John Redmond had secured Home Rule for most of Ireland on the 18th of September 1914. The question of Ulster was to be addressed after the war.
Home Rule implied self-determination either in the direction of independence for most of the island, or the option to remain as an evolving federal state inside the Union.
The savage attack of 1916 which apparently so enamours Prince Charles opened the gates of Hell, which not only led to further Fenian violence up to 1923 taking 8,000 lives (Charles Townshead), but also engendered political violence in our own lifetime from 1969 to circa 1998.
The Prince should – considering the IRA’s impact on his own family – be aware of the sub-human nature of un-necessitated war and the misery and death it inflicts on the innocent.
Time for the Prince of Wales to reflect deeply and honestly on his inane tribute to the criminals of 1916.
Pierce Martin, Celbridge, Co. Kildare