John Coulter, writing for Political Minefields, casts a unionist eye across the terrain of the Easter Rising. Dr John Coulter is an Evangelical Christian and political commentator.
Just as the increasingly secular and pluralist society has changed the true meaning of both Easter and Christmas by editing Christ out and converting it into a commercial festival, Irish republicans are guilty of editing God out of the Proclamation of Poblacht na hEireann, issued during the failed Rising.
It’s a mirror image of Unionists who ridicule the Irish language by conveniently forgetting it was Presbyterians who kept the gaelic tongue alive in past centuries and the Church of Ireland brought out a prayer book in Irish during a time when the Catholic Church in Ireland frowned upon the use of the Irish Language!!!
Instead of embracing their historic culture, many Unionists either make fools of themselves by repackaging a strong North Antrim accent and presenting it as an Ulster-Scots ‘language’, or mock the Irish language with jibes about curry and yoghurt!
Republicans need to ensure they do not fall into this same historical pitfall of misinterpreting their heritage as Unionists have done over the Irish language.
The Proclamation opens: “In the name of God …” How can republicans go on about returning to the Proclamation’s ideals when many don’t even believe in God? How can modern day atheists or agnostics call themselves true republicans or the descendants of the Rising’s organisers when they cut out one of the core principles of the Proclamation?
I can understand a fundamentalist Catholic, such as PH Pearse signing the Proclamation, but why would a hardline Scottish communist like James Connolly sign up to what is clearly a Christian-influenced political document on a par with the earlier Ulster Solemn League and Covenant of 1912?
The moral crisis facing republicans is simple – either they fully embrace the 1916 Proclamation and its clear references to God, or whichever Sinn Fein party or off-shoot of the Rising’s organisers, have the guts to write a new secular Proclamation in 2016.
Either you keep God, or you dump God. You can’t be an atheistic Marxist republican and still pledge allegiance to Our Lord!
Since the early 1970s, the Official and Provisional republican movements, INLA and all the various so-called dissident republican terror factions have made a mockery out of a core passage in the Proclamation.
It states: “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts …”
So much for the Protestants slaughtered by the IRA at Tullyvallen and Kingsmill, or butchered at Darkley Mission Hall by an INLA faction, and so much for all the women and children massacred at Omagh.
And what about all the Catholics ‘disappeared’ over the years? Guarantees of ‘religious and civil liberty’ are now nothing but empty rhetoric and modern republicans are only making fools of themselves by swearing allegiance to the 1916 Proclamation.
It gets worse for the 21st century republican movements. The Proclamation goes on: “We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God …”
When was the last time these so-called republicans attended a religious service where they genuinely prayed to God for protection?
Perhaps forgiveness for the movements for the pain and suffering they have inflicted on the Irish nation would be a better sentiment to pray for?
And embarrassment for republicans just gets deeper with the Proclamation wording: “ … we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity or rapine”.
Given the number of alleged sex abusers the republican movement has hidden or moved over the generations, the time has come for republicans to face a bitter truth.
Modern republican morals bear no resemblance to the ideals of the original Proclamation.
Either tear it up and start again in 2016, or get back to 1916 basics and return God to His proper place in republican thinking.