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History shows violence of 1916 uprising was justified

MELISSA Kavanagh (Write Back, January 7) asks if the new SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood, agrees "that violence is acceptable in certain circumstances and that people have the right to use armed struggle for the right and the freedom to govern and shape their own destiny".

I cannot speak for Mr Eastwood, but I do know that the right to resist foreign occupation does not necessarily stem from the ballot box.

There is a long-established and internationally recognised right of people to resist foreign occupation, as expressed in United Nations resolutions 3070 and 3103, which acknowledge the status of combatants struggling against colonial domination and the rights of people to self-determination.

The Irish people had endured for centuries the brutality of colonisation. The 1916 Easter Rising, in yet another strike for freedom, restored national pride in a people, many of whom were confused as to their identity.

The colonial violence inflicted on the dispossessed peasantry included the punitive policy of transportation to the penal colonies for minor infringements of law. It also forcibly imposed the plantation of Ireland, the penal laws, harsh evictions, harsher behaviour by landlords and chronic hunger.

The violence of the Great Famine, which saw Ireland lose two-and-a-half million of her poorest children to starvation, disease and emigration, while exporting huge surpluses of food from her ports, was in itself reason to forcibly rid this country of British rule.

The revolutionary assertion on behalf of the Irish people in 1916 to once again attempt to break the connection between Ireland and the British Empire took on not just national, but global significance. Not only did the Easter Rising change the course of Irish history, but its echo of resistance, which resonated around the world, instilled in colonised peoples worldwide the hope and inspiration to follow Ireland's lead. And follow it they did.

World empires were to be subsequently challenged by succeeding generations, which in time hastened the disintegration of the imperial and colonial era.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

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