Catholic bishop: Don’t use 1916 to legitimise merciless violence

British troops man a road block outside Cassidy's grocery shop during the Easter Rising in Dublin, 1916.
British troops man a road block outside Cassidy's grocery shop during the Easter Rising in Dublin, 1916.

A Catholic bishop has praised the “sacrifices” of those involved in the Easter Rising, but said the events of 1916 should not be twisted in an attempt to justify subsequent acts of terror.

In his homily at the Irish state’s annual 1916 commemoration ceremony in Dublin, Bishop Dermot Farrell said that “vengeance, retribution and ruthless justice” serves to “inspire ever more hate and evil propensities”.

He said: “Rather than bending the events of Easter week 1916 in an attempt to claim legitimacy for a merciless campaign of indiscriminate acts of violence and murder, another logic is required.”

Almost 500 people were killed in the six days of fighting that followed the attempted rebellion on April 24, 1916. More than half were civilians.

Addressing the gathering at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Arbour Hill on Wednesday, Bishop Farrell said: “The seeds of democracy – freedom, vision, ideals and hope – sown at a foundational moment in the history of the Irish State had, and still have, momentous political consequences whose implications resonate to this day.”

He said the Belfast Agreement “has a similar dynamic” in that it “allows a generation never to witness the horrors of violence, but reap the benefits of peace,” and added: “The great challenge, now as it was then, is to create a society which will enable all of its citizens to flourish in equality in a country with an identifiably distinctive voice in Europe and in the world...a sovereign independent state to use the words of the Proclamation.”