Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Blood sacrifice high on agenda of rebel leader

Like the Liberty, Equality and Fraternity of the French Revolution, the 1916 Declaration of the Irish Republic was, contrary to Paul Reynolds (Write Back, September 16), a promotion for a bourgeois republic.

Patrick Pearse was the acknowledged leader of the rebel forces. At a practical level, he appears to have been an inoffensive pedagogue, but his writings reveal a side that might well have preoccupied a psychiatrist. For his alter-ego was a soldier of fortune with an inclination for blood sacrifice.

In 1916, blood sacrifice was high on the agenda of world capitalism, as unfortunate legions of the working class contested for their masters on the blood-soaked battlefields of Europe. Pearse obviously felt the exhilaration of an absent participant.

The magic the Easter Rising rebels perceived in their cause was encapsulated in the naive belief that freedom was the right to be exploited by an Irish master.

Used in this way, the word 'freedom' acquires a precedence over rational argument. In the words of the Irish rebel song: "Where is the man who does not love the land where he was born?" Against such logic, there is only heresy.

RICHARD MONTAGUE

Belfast

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