I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized No poppy, please

No poppy, please

Padraig Yeates
Last year I was heavily involved in commemorating the Great Dublin Lockout of 1913. I was involved, as were a lot of other people, not just because it had been largely forgotten about but because of the values it encapsulated – social solidarity, the right to equality of treatment no matter who or what you are, the right to freedom of association, the right to representation, the right to be in a trade union, the right to decent pay and conditions, the right to a roof over your head. We commemorated the lockout because the issues at stake were as important and as relevant ‑ and as contested ‑ today as they were a hundred years ago. But I look at the Centenary of the Great War and I have to ask myself what values are we commemorating? Beyond the concept of heroic sacrifice I can’t think of any, and if we are remembering heroic sacrifice, heroic sacrifice for what? The vast majority of combatants were mobilised by Hohenzollern Germany, Tsarist Russia, the Austro-Hungarian, British and Ottoman empires to fight and die for them. None of these exist any more. The most persistent argument I have heard put forward in Ireland in recent years for commemorating the Great War is to remember all the Irishmen who served in the British armed forces and were subsequently forgotten. The reality is that they were not forgotten, by their own at least. There were mass commemorations every year on the Sunday nearest Remembrance Day until long afterwards. You only have to look at the newspapers in the 1920s and 1930s to see them. Up until 1932 Free State Government Ministers attended commemorations each November in Whitehall, as well as in Dublin. When Fianna Fáil came to power official Ireland ceased honouring the Great War dead but it did not prevent commemorations from taking place. Numbers attending fell but so did the number of survivors and more current events were crying out for public attention. One of them was the Spanish Civil War, which erupted in the summer of 1936. Nevertheless, in November of that year a thousand Catholic ex-servicemen formed up behind the British Legion flag in Beresford Place, outside Liberty Hall, and marched to the Pro-Cathedral for a commemorative Mass, while their Protestant counterparts formed up in St Stephen’s Green and marched to St Patrick’s Cathedral. The Old Contemptibles Association, the Royal…

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