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Irish History

Book Review: 'The Life of Parnell'

'The Life of Parnell', by R. Barry O'Brien

Editorial: Was It Worth It?

The centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising is being marked by celebrations in the Irish Republic and in ‘Nationalist’ areas of the North of Ireland.

On Easter Monday 1916, which fell on 26 April, about 1200 armed rebels seized buildings in Dublin and, at the General Post Office, a proclamation of independence for the 32 counties of Ireland was read. Fighting continued until the 29 April, when the rebels surrendered to British forces. Some leaders of the uprising, including James Connolly and Patrick Pearse, were executed by firing squad. That the uprising took place during the First World War was no coincidence, as the rebels reckoned that Britain would be distracted by the war and hoped to receive arms supplies from Germany, which never materialised.

The Stickies and the Provos

We examine a key division within Irish nationalism which reflected tensions between those who asserted the primacy of ‘nation’ and those who ended up seeking to prioritise ‘class’.

A significant feature of those who situate themselves in the anti-establishment tradition of any country is their attitude to nationalism and imperialism. While reformist politicians of the Labour and Social Democrat varieties tend to identify with their own ruling class and seek to work with them to ameliorate the worst aspects of capitalism, those further to the left often seek alliances (even if just at a conceptual, ideological level) with the ruling classes of other countries. This is often done on the basis that an enemy of an enemy must be a friend. It is the reason why much of the left in Britain has been sympathetic to Irish nationalism and why Irish nationalists have repeatedly sought support from almost anyone hostile to the British state.

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