Belfast Telegraph

Seeds of Ireland's banking crisis hark back to original sin of 1916

By Kevin Myers

If Ireland is to save what remains of its statehood, it must start by creating a discourse based on truth not on fantasy, such as that which follows.

"It may seem strange to some that The Irish Times would ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side... we have now surrendered our sovereignty to the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund."

Thus, in a nutshell, the ignorant historical mumbo-jumbo that has for 94 years defined our political discourse: folklore masquerading as historical fact.

For the men of 1916 died precisely because they'd sought a bailout from the German chancellor, Theobald Bethmann- Hollweg, whom Sir Roger Casement first met in 1914.

Once the First World War had begun, Joseph Plunkett eagerly, though not easily, joined Casement in Berlin via Spain, Italy and Switzerland to copper-fasten German military backing for a rising.

Thus the Easter Proclamation's wording, "supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe".

But it could have been worse. Casement and Plunkett actually sought a German army to invade Munster, with Limerick as its base.

How rational, or patriotic, is it to want to extend the benedictions of the Western Front to the peaceful pastures of Munster and south Leinster, thereby creating an Ypres-in-Ossory?

All the platitudes in the Proclamation mean nothing beside the actual military intentions of the insurgents, which was to invite the butchers of Belgium and northern France to partake of fresh conquests in Ireland.

Yet this monstrous scheme has ever since been hailed as a blow for Ireland.

So with that being the insurgents' definition of 'freedom', and with such mad acts ever since being hailed as 'patriotism', is it surprising that some sort of sub-conscious death-wish has since consumed Ireland, almost every generation?

Now I've said what follows many, many times.

If people truly want to measure current events by the bizarre standards of that foul and bloody week 94 years ago, the real question they should ask is: 'Is this what the men of 1916 killed innocent civilians for?'

Pearse, Connolly and the others didn't shoot down high-born traitors, such as Sir Edward Carson, or Sir James Craig or Rudyard Kipling, who'd each given the Ulster Volunteers £10,000. Instead, they killed the ordinary citizenry and policemen of Dublin.

The executions at the end of Easter Week didn't occur because of the words of Proclamation, but because of the many murders that, from the very first moments of the rising, violated both the law and the promises that the Proclamation had made to respect the rights and liberties of the citizens of Ireland. So the banking crisis has, in fact, merely been a financial and political re-enactment of 1916, with the egos and the ambitions of the central players being once again placed ahead of the wishes or interests of the Irish people.

Yes, of course, 1916 changed everything: but bad things often do. Two years earlier, Gavrilo Princip thought he had the right to take life, regardless of consequence, merely because of the passion of his beliefs.

So why shouldn't the EU revere the man who slew the Archduke? Did his deed not lay the Hapsburg Empire low? And thereafter fell the adjacent Romanovs and Hohenzollerns, ultimately leading to the EU (via the unfortunate little interlude of the Third Reich, of course).

So is Princip's deed not also the EU's foundation deed? Therefore, let's have our annual Princip Day amid the unending rubble of Sarajevo's latest war.

If your state is conceived in sin, yet you insist on celebrating that sin, then you clearly acknowledge no binding moral order, and sin of some kind is what your state will inevitably revert to.

That is what the Republic has repeatedly done over the decades in dreary cycles of murder, corruption, and economic collapse. Moreover, Plunkett's preposterous verdict of the rising reads like any government press release over the past decade about its many glorious projects - two tram networks that don't meet, motorways without service stations, tribunals stretching towards infinity, bank guarantees that have finally destroyed the last vestiges of Irish sovereignty.

In captivity, and amid the ruins of Dublin, Plunkett declared "everything was foreseen, everything was calculated, nothing was forgotten".

For then, as now, nothing was forgotten - except reality.

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