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State founded on mindless murder says grandson

(Eamon Phoenix, Irish News)

The grandson of a leading figure in the Easter Rising and subsequent independence struggle has declared that it would have been better if the insurrection had never happened.

Fergal Ferriter, a grandson of Cathal Brugha, the second in command at the South Dublin Union during Easter Week, said his views had changed since his childhood when he "hero-worshipped the rebels of 1916", especially Brugha, who was his maternal grandfather.

"As a child I saw him as a hero and a saint, and the rising as a glorious and righteous failure.

"I also had a caricature-view of the British, that they were pretty much evil through and through," he said.

Thirty years on Mr Ferriter, who now lives in Oregon in the United States, said that while he was still proud of Brugha's bravery and sincerity, his attitude towards the rising had changed.

"I believe that it would have been far better is the rising and War of Independence had never happened and the Collinses and de Valeras and Brughas had all stayed at home and raised their families in peace," he said.

Cathal Brugha was wounded in the rising and had a limp for the rest of his life.

Commemorated in the '1916 anthem', The Foggy Dew, he went on to play a major part in the War of Independence, serving as IRA chief of staff and as minister for defence during 1919-21.

With de Valera, Brugha opposed the 1921 Treaty and was shot dead by Free State forces in a firefight in the first month of the Civil War in July 1922.

His death grieved Michael Collins despite the fact they were on opposite sides.

In his letter to the press Mr Ferriter expressed the view that the violence of the period was "unnecessary" and that the constitutional Home Rule policy should have been supported.

"Had Home Rule been allowed to pursue its course, Ireland, north and south, would have had a far more peaceful and prosperous time since.

"I don't see any real difference between the IRA then and now.

"They murdered police officers, Protestants, Catholics then and have done exactly that in recent times."

Unless Irish people faced up to fact that the Irish state "was founded through mindless murder and mayhem", there is a danger of violence recurring, he said.

May 26, 2006

This article appeared first in the April 18, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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