How hard is it today to be proud of being Irish or of your Irish history?
It is getting harder and harder especially with Irish history as the rapidly approaching centenary of the Easter Rising is being slowly hijacked and stolen from the ordinary Irish citizen. This crime is being perpetrated by individuals and organisations with hidden agendas, who simply have access to a laser printer or the ability to create a Facebook page.
There are some excellent amateur historical archivists on line, who only wish to share and educate but how can you tell? What am I being labelled as by posting, contributing or participating in the wide range of discussions? I still want to learn.
I am Irish. I am a proud Irish citizen happy with my past and my present economic woes aside. I am not an extremist and I have no tolerance for those who commit vile crimes in the name of Ireland either now or in the past. I abhor anti social behaviour masquerading itself as democracy. I am not a paramilitary supporter or spokesman, I do not consider myself Republican in my views and as for anything that refers to ‘32 County’ I just switch off. I am not a Fenian or anti British and in fact recognise the loss of young British lives during 1916 and our War of Independence.
But I am passionate about my history and the sacrifice of the men and women in 1916 and our War of Independence. I would consider the Easter Rising as my specialist subject if I appeared on Mastermind but increasingly I have found forums and pages that after a couple of posts the tone changes dramatically. Any alternative view is treated with distain and sometimes intimidation. There seems to be a contradiction that if you have an interest in 1916 you have to be a Republican. The trouble is finding people who are not pushing hidden agendas. The centenary is not a celebration as lives were lost, it is not a reclamation of Republican ideals or ideas, it is not and should not be allowed to be the preserve of those with purely political motives. The main problem I have is that if I post on a particular page or forum, am I suddenly a Republican, the assumption incorrectly made that in the morning I would go out and march for a 32 County. Is big brother watching? Am I being put on some watch list not for what I say but where I said it?
When 2016 arrives are citizens like me going to end up watching events on TV instead of participating? There are many views as to when our State began but the spark lit by those who came out onto the streets in 1916 cannot be underestimated. The Government although it says there are plans seem to be inactive or suffering from IMF/ECB inertia. Perhaps those with a genuine interest in Irish history, who are democratic, tolerant and non sectarian could be approved for a ‘Guaranteed Irish’ award.