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Up the republic
A push to have the anniversary of the 1916 Proclamation declared a national holiday is gathering pace. One of the leaders of the campaign explains why it would be a good idea.
Colm O Hare, 16 May 2012
A campaign is underway to have April 24, the anniversary of the 1916 Rising and the declaration of the Proclamation of the Republic, declared “Republic Day”. With the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising approaching, it is timely.
Campaigner Tom Stokes says it would “serve as a day of remembrance, understanding and celebration of that momentous event, and of the selfless heroism and integrity of the women and men involved in that strike for freedom.”
A grandson of John Stokes, a striking tram driver in the 1913 Lockout and a Volunteer at Boland’s Mill in 1916, Stokes is the driving force behind the initiative. “I think it’s a no-brainer,” he told Hot Press. “If you go to Wikipedia and go to national days, what it says is that national days are the day a republic was declared or the day a country declared independence. The French have Bastille Day, the British have Armistice Day, the US has Independence Day, and India, inspired in its quest for independence by our 1916 Revolution and War of Independence, celebrates its Republic Day as the most important date in its calendar. What we have here is a celebration of a feast day – Paddy’s Day, which is all about getting drunk and having a party. That’s the limit of our ambitions.”
According to Stokes, a writer and journalist who teaches Media and Journalism at Stillorgan College of Further Education in Dublin, Ireland today bears little resemblance to the one conceived by both the Revolution of 1916 and the issuing of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. “The anniversary has always been ignored by the Irish State which has abjectly failed to complete the task of building the progressive, modern republic that was promised in the Proclamation,” he insists. “We’ve been sold this notion that we are a Republic – but what we ended up was a Free State instead. There was a counter-revolution in 1922, which is how we ended up as we are today. A real Republic belong to us all – not a few elites. I’ve a big problem with the bourgeoisie, as they control RTÉ and the newspapers.”