Much has been said and done over the last few days about the Easter Rebellion of 1916. However, it is worth pointing out a number of things.
Ireland had already been granted Home Rule in the Home Rule Bill of 1914, which had been shelved until after the war. Home Rule for Ireland was therefore not a possibility, it was guaranteed.
The Proclamation, read by Patrick Pearse at the GPO, included a declaration of war on Britain and provided clear grounds for a charge of treason to be brought in the support of the signatories for Germany and her Allies.
This was against the backdrop that many mothers and fathers across the British Isles had lost sons at the Front in a campaign which had been going on for one year and a half.
The devastation that Pearse and his comrades brought to Dublin over a period of six days was significant, including the significant cost to human life in the vicinity of the GPO – many of whom Pearse and his Comrades were seeking to ‘free from oppression and poverty’.
This rebellion was orchestrated by a minority, who had been in the background of Irish Politics for many years and elevated by the formation of the Irish National Volunteers (INV).
It was a case of ‘England’s difficulty is Irelands opportunity’. Like most revolutionaries they seek to strike at the most opportune moment. There are comparisons to be offered between the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and that of the failed attempt in Ireland in 1916. Both groups were opportunists seeking to advance their own selfish and narrow interests.
References to women and women’s rights in the Proclamation were not unique, or ‘before their time’. Women had already secured the vote, and exercised it in the General election of 1918.
It is somewhat ironic however how the Irish state viewed the role of women after independence, and indeed, after a Republic was secured.
Andrew Charles, Stranmillis BT9