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War commemorations must not be abandoned

October 31st, 2020 5:10 PM

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SIR - As Ireland approaches the centenary commemorations of the deaths of Terence McSwiney, Tomás McCurtain and Kevin Barry next month, who died during Ireland’s War of Independence, revisionist historians and some political commentators continue to depict Ireland’s freedom fighters as cold-blooded murderers and our War of Independence as a sordid sectarian conflict.
Calls for the government to abandon commemorations appear to be an act of atonement and State apology to opponents of Irish independence for our audacity in commemorating our political and cultural independence and our revolutionary heroes of 1916 and War of Independence.
It is unlikely that Patrick Pearse and James Connolly would have taken up arms if Britain had recognised the democratic wishes of the Irish people and implemented Home Rule, a wish that was overwhelmingly expressed in every election since 1870. It is also unlikely that Kevin Barry would have taken up arms if Britain had acknowledged the democratic mandate that was given in the 1918 general election, a mandate that conferred the authority on the FirstDáil to give legitimate expression to the will of the people.
It is risible for opponents of the War for Independence to suggest that the government should not commemorate the centenary of the execution of Kevin Barry, the death on hunger strike of Terence McSwiney and the murder of Tomás McCurtain, who were soldiers of the Irish Republican Army, recognised by Dáil Éireann as its legitimate army.
The British government, by rejecting the democratic method of declaring the national will, led to a recognition that the bullet be more effective than the ballot. 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.

Tom Cooper,
Irish National Congress,
Aras an Phiarsaigh,
Pearse Street,
Dublin 2.

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