We still have lessons to learn from 100 years ago: Martin

The island of Ireland still has plenty to learn from the events of 100 years ago Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said, in a speech marking the centenary of the handover of Dublin Castle by British forces.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 17th January 2022, 8:34 am
Taoiseach Micheal Martin
Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Speaking on Saturday at an academic conference in Dublin Castle organised by Trinity College Dublin, the Irish premier said that it was “impossible” not to look back at the partition of the island 100 years ago and see “what we lost”.

“In almost every way possible bad faith was shown toward the nationalist majority on this island when it came to addressing partition in 1922 and the years following,” Mr Martin said.

“London’s indifference to the reality of the sectarianism faced by Northern nationalists also caused immense damage.”

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The centenary was marked yesterday in a ceremony at Dublin Castle attended by Irish and UK dignitaries.

President Michael D Higgins and Mr Martin, as well as Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, were among those in attendance.

The event, which was held at the same time as the events of 100 years ago, was also attended by UK Ambassador in Ireland Paul Johnston.

Former Irish premiers Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny also attended, as well as former presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald was also at the ceremonial event, which was broadcast live on RTE.

The event saw a narrated account of the transfer of power read by actor Phelim Drew.

In a short address shortly before the Irish tricolour was hoisted in Dublin Castle, Mr Martin said: “As we honour the achievements of the revolutionary generation, we do so with pride that the state they helped to create is entering its second century of independent, democratic government.”

On Saturday during his conference speech Mr Martin referred to the “deep and lasting shock” produced by partition.

“Their churches, unions, sporting organisations, legislators and much more had never before been divided in this way.

“Even for many unionists this was an unnatural divide which I believe is rightly seen as shaping much of our subsequent history – and not for the good.”

Mr Martin told the conference: “Much and all as I believe we have a right to question if they were justified, we cannot ignore the fact that there were many who feared an independent state and that this motivated their push for partition.”

The Fianna Fail leader praised the fact that there now exists an “agreed blueprint” to decide the constitutional future of the island, and praised efforts in recent years to increase connections between both sides of the border.

But he said: “I think it is impossible to look back a century and not see what we lost. We lost a chance for a more diverse, challenging, creative and successful state.

“One which, with goodwill, might have found ways to lead the world in working to overcome sectarianism.”