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Respect for the dead


Eighty-six years ago today, a small band of Irish patriots stepped into Dublin’s GPO and declared for an Irish Republic. The rest, as they say, is history.

These visionary and brave souls declared simply and unequivocally for the “right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereign and indefeasible”. They sought to establish a political, economic and social order on this island, which would “cherish all the children of the nation equally”.

As Ireland remembers its ‘Glorious Dead’, we would all do well to reflect on the central message of those men and women of 1916 and on their legacy.

We might also ponder why the PSNI should have the gall to videotape the thousands who turned out at Milltown Cemetery yesterday for the main republican commemoration — as if they were so many suspects in a crime.

Perhaps the PSNI believes it’s a crime to honour the dead. If so, will we see the video teams out on Remembrance Sunday at City Hall? Somehow we suspect there’s as much chance of that as seeing one of those BBC presenters, who are so fond of the poppy come November, sport an Easter lily.
Their goal of the men and women of 1916 — an island free from British Government rule — is as worthy today as it was then.

The best route to that objective is through the Good Friday Agreement and the robust politics of peace. The debate now opening up around a United Ireland is proof that the dream of a free Ireland is closer now than ever.

April 3, 2002

This article appeared first on the web site on April 2, 2002.