“It appears certain that Nationalism across Dublin has gained a great deal and lost a little by its union with Labour in the Insurrection of Easter Week, and that Labour has lost much and achieved something by its avowal of the National aspirations of the Irish Nation.”
– Sean O’Casey, 1919
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic issued during the Easter Rising of 1916 is a statement for the foundation of an egalitarian and democratic state. However, the State that emerged on the island of Ireland following the period of political upheaval between 1913 and 1923 fell very well short of the high ideals of the socialist thinker James Connolly and his fellow leading revolutionary leaders.
This was starkly illustrated when some within the establishment in the Republic attempted to make the centenary commemoration of the Rising into an extended apology to the British elite. Other groups attempted to make its remembrance into a parade of green jingoism. But across the country memorial events were held which did succeed in highlighting the ideals of an influential progressive left during this period and the anti-imperialist agenda of the Rising.
It must also be ensured that the progressive ideals of those who opposed the mass carnage across Europe from the Somme to Gallipoli are brought to the fore during commemoration of World War I. That the leaders of Unionism and Irish nationalism during that period both called for young Irish men to died for Imperial warmongers based in London is of particular relevance.
The recent elections North and South have resulted in the novel political reconfiguration of the southern establishment and created oppositional politics at Stormont. These changes present the progressive left with an opportunity to make its influence felt in Ireland to an extent to which it has failed to over the past one hundred years.