SOME RAG-TAG ARMY! by Donal Kennedy

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From: Donal Kennedy
To: letters <letters@sunday-times.co.uk>
Sent: Sun, 27 Mar 2016 13:20
Subject: Some Rag-Tag Army!

I’m surprised that a such a fine historian as Piers Brandon could describe the 1916 Insurgents as a ” rag tag army.”
In 1966 you profiled one veteran, Maurice Collins,whom I knew as child in the 1940s.Recently I’ve read on-line the witness statement he gave the Bureau of Military History and other statements by veterans who fought in North King Street, given about 1950. One was by the Liam O’Carroll, uncle of comedian Brendan O’Carroll. Liam’s two brothers fought in North King Street and their sister was active in the battle, their father and grandfather were Fenians.
Prominent in that small sector were men not only well trained militarily, but with years commitment in the Gaelic League, the Gaelic Athletic Association, skilled tradesmen, small businessmen and professional men. None of the Republican positions were over-run by the British and they were still full of fight when the order was brought to them to surrender. Patrick Pearse gave the order to save the lives of citizens from British machine guns and artillery, and not until the order was checked and confirmed as genuine did the various republican garrisons surrender.

They were not a beaten force and the survivors established a democratic state which has enjoyed  93 years of peace, played creditable roles in the League of Nations and the United Nations, was instrumental in establishing the Council of Europe, and needs apologising to nobody.
Yours faithfuly
Donal Kennedy

11 Responses to SOME RAG-TAG ARMY! by Donal Kennedy

  1. MT March 27, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

    “Patrick Pearse gave the order to save the lives of citizens from British machine guns and artillery, and not until the order was checked and confirmed as genuine did the various republican garrisons surrender.”

    That was good of him. If he hadn’t started the thing off in the first place he wouldn’t have needed to have saved any lives, from British guns or his own.

    • Jude Collins March 27, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

      Indeed. And if Britain had confined itself to its own country and let Irish people run their own affairs, there would have been no deaths from anyone’s guns.

      • giordanobruno March 27, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

        Jude
        If a child abuser turns out to have been the victim of abuse at one time himself that may explain why he does what he does,but it does not excuse it.
        If you voluntarily pick up a gun the responsibility for subsequent deaths from that gun is first and foremost yours.

        • jessica March 27, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

          Was it not the British who brought the guns into Ireland in the first place gio?

        • jessica March 28, 2016 at 7:45 am #

          “If you voluntarily pick up a gun the responsibility for subsequent deaths from that gun is first and foremost yours.”

          Are you saying DUP members should be prosecuted then for subsequent murders committed using guns they brought over from South Africa for Ulster Resistance which have killed many Catholics yet were never decommissioned?

          • giordanobruno March 28, 2016 at 9:19 am #

            jessica
            I am saying the person who pulled the trigger should certainly be prosecuted whether they are PIRA UVF British Army or whatever.
            If there is enough evidence to link the gun to someone else who gave orders by all means bring them to court.
            When the men and women of the rising started shooting the primary responsibility was theirs. They were volunteers remember!
            It is called being responsible for ones own actions.

  2. Donal Kennedy March 27, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

    3,000 French civilians died on D-Day in 1944 mostly from allied action. Most French Parliamentarians and citizens had come to an accommodation with the Germans in 1940. Would MT or his ilk care to comment on the morality of French Irregulars and their Allied
    friends? Joe Duffy of RTE, for example?

  3. Bridget Cairns March 27, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

    “needs apologising to nobody” “93 years of peace” sorry Donal can’t agree with you on this, unfortunately the partition of this little island led to the so called “Troubles”, for which many of us and our families have suffered greatly. It is alright for the people of the “Free State” to commemorate & celebrate, however, parts of this island are still under British rule, have you forgotten that.

    • jessica March 28, 2016 at 8:07 am #

      Bridget, I think Donal means the state may have been born out of violence but has since proven that it was the best thing for the people in that part of Ireland which has benefitted from peace since cutting ties with Britain.

      The responsibility for partition and the subsequent conflicts lies ultimately with the British for dividing the country and allowing intolerant unionist bigots to control a portion of the country.
      It was inevitable that they would resort to violence as they did prior to partition.

      I do agree with you however in that the southern state (in particular Fine Gael) has since abandoned its Irish citizens in the north of the country and sold out for British money.

      I would like to see more than an apology but it would be an appropriate gesture if they weren’t more interested in maintaining economic relations with the UK than the best interest of its citizens on both sides of the border.

      It is their continued abandonment of their constitutional responsibility which will allow dissidents to gain more support than otherwise would be possible in both states.
      Division is no longer between communities in the north but between the Irish and British in Ireland

  4. Donal Kennedy March 27, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    I do not think that we owe anyone an apology for the action of the 1916, 1867, 1848, 1803,
    1798 and 1641 Insurgents.
    I think the VERY LEAST we should do is what John Hume did when he recognised the sincerity of those Republicans whose tactics he believed mistaken and talked with Gerry Adams.
    In the Dail in January 1922 IRA Chief of Staff Richard Mulcahy said he didn’t like some of
    the Articles signed in London, but as the IRA was unable to remove the enemy from anything bigger than a fair sized police barracks, that enemy would need to be negotiated out or driven out. They were negotiated out of Lough Swilly, Bantry Bay and Cork Harbour in 1938. Nearly thirty years fighting by brave and capable volunteers have not altered the military position achieved in 1938. But political conditions have now been established which seem to offer better prospects of progress than banging heads against brick walls.

  5. Dr Michael Hfuhruhurr March 29, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    @ Jessica

    It is not inconceivable that armed uprising (“troubles”) could happen again in the future. It has become apparent to most moderate nationalists and republicans that the British were not acting alone to support partition. Fine Gael have been up to their necks in corruption and scandals and also cover ups of mass murder of its own citizens, supporting the British narrative at every given opportunity. Their efforts to perverse the Republican agenda as defined in the proclamation and socially engineer through media bias, a re-defined idea of Ireland (“ITS COMPLETE 26 COUNTIES”) has been nothing short of treason to the citizens of Ireland.

    I will never condone violence and always think that fair and democratic efforts and values should always prevail, but I cannot think of any scenario whereby a growing ‘dissident’ grouping do not start to focus their attention on armed conflict in the south and in particular the Fine Gael establishment. Whilst turning Irishmen against Irishmen, it would serve to agitate the narrative that there has been no settlement regarding the North and that the moderate population in the South would be confronted to make a stand on the national question (one that I think republicans would win).

    With an impassioned populace over the 1916 commutations and an ever increasing Sinn Fein mandate and growing hostility towards the establishment, I think its only a matter of time before the southern establishment has to “shit or get off the pot”.

    Sovereignty is chess, it requires strategy and sacrifice to win.