Easter Rising was “profoundly wrong” says Northern Ireland’s Catholic Attorney General
The Easter Rising was “profoundly wrong” and cannot be justified as a “just war”, Northern Ireland’s first Roman Catholic Attorney General has said.
The comments were made in an interview with Peter Lynas, Northern Ireland director of the Evangelical Alliance, for a new magazine, 1916-2016: The Rising & The Somme, which looks at the past century of Irish history from new points of view.
Mr Larkin said the rebellion “lacked any democratic or constitutional legitimacy” and did not pass the test for a just war.
Other prominent figures from Northern Ireland giving their views on 1916 include the First and Deputy First Minister, as well as former SDLP Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon.
In his comments, Mr Larkin wrote: “Looking at 1916, you have individuals of huge moral worth – individuals capable of huge self-sacrifice – doing some things that were profoundly wrong.
“The Easter Rising wasn’t justified in any way of the traditional just war criteria – there was no mandate for it.
“The 1916 rising was a product of a secret revolutionary society, and an adventure that lacked any democratic or constitutional legitimacy,” he wrote.
Mr Larkin also pointed out that there were asignificant number of civilian casualties who were caught up in the conflict, including many children.
Mr Larkin also told how he could remember reading an article about Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the rebellion.
The article stated: “It was a goodly thing to see arms in Irish hands. We may make mistakes in the beginning and shoot the wrong people, but bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing.”
Mr Larkin said that his father had warned him about the “genuinely horrific nature of such sentiments.”
Some of the views expressed by the Executive’s chief legal adviser mirror those of senior Irish Catholic philosopher Fr Seamus Murphy who has argued forcefully that the Rising “passes none of the ‘just war’ criteria … it had a pagan love of war and blood-sacrifice”.
He added that one of the ironies is that the 1916 Easter Rising is often refered to as the Sinn Fein rebellion.
“It couldn’t have been a Sinn Fein rebellion – the official policy of the party up until 1917 wasn’t for a republic, but a monarchy on the Austro-Hungarian pattern.The 1916 Rising was a product of a secret revolutionary society, and an adventure that lacked any democratic or constitutional legitimacy.
“However, one much admires the courage and the self-sacrificing zeal for public welfare, though ill-judged, of many of those who took part in it.
“Merely because one uses the language of sacrifice, or evokes a certain language that may resonate with Christian images and symbolism, doesn’t mean one is acting in a way that can be properly regarded as Christian.”
In the same article Mr Larkin said he believes that there is a segment of contemporary nationalism that is attempting to distance itself from the language of Pearse as it is “incapable of contemporary justification”, and he even suggested that a Ireland today may be seeing the rise of a growing tension between Catholicism and Irish identity as the country becomes increasingly secular in its outlook.
“The qualifying adjective in the expression ‘Irish Catholic’ has become more important than the noun.” he said wryly.Tags: catholic, Easter, rising