Book review: Who’s afraid of the Easter Rising?

downloadJames Heartfield & Kevin Rooney (2015), Who’s Afraid of the Easter Rising ? 1916-2016, Winchester: Zero Books, 160pp.  Reviewed by Liam Ó Ruairc.

James Heartfield and Kevin Rooney have produced an interesting, valuable and timely short book on the 1916 Easter Rising and how it has been commemorated since 1966. The authors are clearly sympathetic to the republican insurgents of 1916. They provide a fine account of the Easter Rising and its context, emphasizing that it was a historical event in global terms. They locate the 1916 Rising in the context of inter-imperialist rivalries and labour unrest,and how it resonated from India to Burma, from Lenin to Ho Chi Minh. This is a welcome progressive alternative and counter-narrative to the standard official accounts of the period. But the book is especially valuable for its discussion of the issue of historical memory and its connection to the peace process. Heartfield and Rooney provide an excellent critique of the so-called ‘Decade of Centenaries’, clearly influenced by some of the most creative insights of Frank Furedi (1992) Mythical Past, Elusive Future: An Essay in the Sociology of History.

The authors first examine how the Rising has previously been commemorated, and how central taking ownership and control of anniversary commemorations was. Eamon de Valera ‘owned’ the 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966, celebrating it as the foundation of the 26-Counties state. Liam Cosgrave tried to ban the 60th anniversary in 1976 only succeeding in losing control of it. In 1991 Charles Haughey clamped down on the 75th anniversary choking it. But for the 100th anniversary in 2016 “the Decade of Centenaries has given up on trying to control the event, and chosen instead to decentre it and dilute it, by putting it alongside other events, of supposedly equal significance” (150).

The 1916 Easter Rising is being ‘decentred’ and ‘diluted’ by being put on par with the Read the rest of this entry

Know Your Rights public meeting, Belfast, Dec 5


Anti-Stormont, anti-austerity protest, Sat, Nov 21



‘Stand up to Stormont Protest’
12.45pm, Sat, Nov 21st,
outside The Busy Bee,
Andersonstown, Belfast.
All welcome.


éirígí on the new settlement


‘A Fresh Start’ – the latest ‘deal’ in a line of apparently never-ending deals from the Stormont Coalition and the Dublin and London governments. But in truth there is nothing ‘fresh’ about it.

There is nothing fresh about opportunist politicians acting to protect their own jobs, the jobs of their cronies and their place at the expenses trough.

There is nothing fresh about politicians in a capitalist system bending over backwards to maximise the profits of their corporate sponsors.

There is nothing fresh about politicians speaking out of both sides of their mouths, declaring themselves as defenders of the marginalised and the poor while implementing policies that will increase marginalisation and poverty.

There is nothing fresh about Sinn Féin claiming to be opposed to austerity in the Twenty-Six Counties while implementing austerity in the Six Counties.

Let those who think that Sinn Féin is a left-wing party and a defender of the working class take note of yesterdays ‘deal’. See how quickly some of the poorest people and communities in Western Europe were sacrificed to ‘save Stormont’ (and the jobs for the boys).

Let those who think that Sinn Féin is a genuine partner in the fight for the Right to Water, Housing and Change similarly take note.

No amount of spin and double-talk can change the facts of what Sinn Féin has cooked up with the DUP and the two governments.

Yesterday’s deal can only have one outcome – the rich will get richer as corporation tax is reduced AND the poor will get poorer as the Tories are handed control of social welfare payments in the Six Counties. Logically, there can be no other outcome.

A new people’s movement against austerity, poverty, exploitation and injustice must be built upon solid ideological foundations, not the double-speak of self-serving, hypocritical politicians.

For our part we are ready to play our part in a movement for maximum change – a movement that will topple the rule of the political and business elite once and for all.

The above appeared on the party’s facebook page, here.


Saving Stormont: The last hurrah?

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness: no depth too low for the

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness: no depth too low for the Shinners to sink

The results of the report by a British government monitoring panel caused bemusement among observers inside and outside Ireland. Following the statement of a few truisms – the IRA still exist, the loyalist gangs are still active – the Democratic Unionist Party, who had been blocking the operation of the local Assembly by resigning their positions and re-appointing themselves in a weekly cycle, returned to their positions full-time.

Of course the report was entirely political. Its main function was to provide the magic formula that would allow the DUP to return and escape the savage criticism of their backers in the business community.  A report from the Irish authorities, while much more general in tone, added to the instability by increasing the political critique of Sinn Fein in the run-up to the coming southern election.

New deal

However the report has another function. The history of the Irish process, and current reports, indicate that the outlines of a deal have already been agreed. There would be little point in the DUP returning to Stormont to oversee its collapse. In fact Sinn Fein leaders are touring cumainn to rally support for another retreat, while trade union and church figures are talking up Read the rest of this entry

éirígí activist confronts FG senator over health cuts


Great Natural Resources Robbery – next talk in Rathfarnham, Friday, November 20

12246653_1080503811962035_6943700160667517093_nThe next ‘Great Natural Resources Robbery!’ public talk will take place next Friday (November 20th) in the Whitechurch Community Centre in Rathfarnham in South Dublin.

If you are opposed to the Water Tax you need to be at this meeting, as it sets the backdrop for the attempt to introduce the tax and the future privatisation of our water resources. The presentation will be delivered by Brian Leeson, starting at 7.30pm.

Please spread the word and come along. All welcome. Bígí linn.

The global-historical significance of the 1916 Rising

imagesby Liam Ó Ruairc

In less than six months, the one hundredth anniversary of the 24-29 April 1916 Easter Rising will be commemorated throughout Ireland. What is striking about the so-called ‘Decade of Commemorations’ is how insular its outlook is: the 1912 Ulster Covenant, the 1916 Rising or the setting up of Northern Ireland are seen as a purely Irish phenomenon, divorced from global trends. As Edward W. Said once noted, while the Irish struggle was a ‘model of twentieth-century wars of liberation’, “it is an amazing thing that the problem of Irish liberation not only has continued longer than other comparable struggles, but is so often not regarded as being an imperial or nationalist issue; instead it is comprehended as aberration within the British dominions. Yet the facts conclusively reveal otherwise.”[1]  This article will argue that the significance of the 1916 Easter Rising lies less in its particular Irish context than in its world-historical impact. It will argue that its universal significance is to have hastened the end of the imperial and colonial age and made a significant contribution to the emancipation of colonial and racially subaltern groups globally.

From an anti-imperialist perspective, the 1916 Easter Rising was not simply part of a series of Irish rebellions against British rule – “six times during the past three hundred years” as the Proclamation puts it – but part of a Read the rest of this entry

Public event: Revolutionary politics of Seamus Costello

download6-9pm, Saturday, Nov 14

Newtown Community Centre


Co. Wicklow


Chair: John Davis

Brian Leeson (éirígí ) on the Great Natural Resources Robbery
Erika Brennan (community activist) on the Housing Crisis
Sean Doyle (co-worker of Seamus Costello) on the Politics of Seamus Costello in Today’s Struggle

Pádraig Ó Fearghaíl (Wicklow Remembers 1916 Committee)
Ruan O’Donnell (historian, University of Limerick)

Bígí Linn


1916 Military Memorabilia Exhibition and Book Launch, Dublin, Sat, Nov 7



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