Belfast Telegraph

1916 Rising wasn't just or lawful, says legal chief Larkin

By Allan Preston

The Attorney General for Northern Ireland has said he believes the Easter Rising of 1916 was "profoundly wrong."

John Larkin, a practising Catholic, said the rebellion "lacked any democratic or constitutional legitimacy" and did not pass the test for a just war.

The comments were made for a new magazine, 1916-2016: The Rising & The Somme, which looks at the past century of Irish history from new points of view.

Other prominent figures from Northern Ireland giving their views on 1916 include the First and Deputy First Minister, as well as former SDLP Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon.

In his comments, Mr Larkin wrote: "Looking at 1916, you have individuals of huge moral worth - individuals capable of huge self-sacrifice - doing some things that were profoundly wrong.

"The Easter Rising wasn't justified in any way of the traditional just war criteria - there was no mandate for it."

Mr Larkin also pointed to the many innocent casualties in Dublin, many of whom were children.

"The 1916 rising was a product of a secret revolutionary society, and an adventure that lacked any democratic or constitutional legitimacy," he wrote.

Mr Larkin also told how he could remember reading an article about Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the rebellion.

The article stated: "It was a goodly thing to see arms in Irish hands. We may make mistakes in the beginning and shoot the wrong people, but bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing."

Mr Larkin said that his father had warned him about the "genuinely horrific nature of such sentiments."

First Minister Arlene Foster, meanwhile, said she would mark the historical significance of the 1916 rebellion, but she could not commemorate it.

"For those of us living in Northern Ireland, the Easter Rising was used in a very negative way to justify a campaign of terrorism against fellow Irish people," she wrote.

"It's obviously for me a very negative event and something that was a very violent attack.

"Commemoration is a completely different issue because then you are giving some legitimacy to what happened at that time. For those of us who lived in Northern Ireland in the '70s, '80s and '90s, it certainly is not something I would be able to do."

Martin McGuinness said he had "tremendous admiration" for those who fought in the uprising, which he said could be justified by the circumstances at the time, although he stressed it could not be an excuse for violence today.

Mr McGuinness wrote that to "make an argument for another campaign of a military nature is something I would totally reject".

Nichola Mallon, meanwhile, wrote that she wanted 2016 to be a personal "year of education". "I want to learn from what went before," she said. "Importantly, we need to look at what we have in common, which we are getting better at."

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