Ireland commemorates while Belgium mourns

The Easter 1916 commemorations in Ireland have been overshadowed by terrorism in Europe, with Belgian security services stepping up their investigations into the domestic cells responsible for last Tuesday’s fatal attacks in Brussels.
This terrorist-led revolt, led by so-called Islamic State/Daesh, is of an altogether different type of that which the signatories of the Proclamation catalysed on the streets of Dublin a century ago.
The comparison made by journalist Robert Fisk in RTE’s ‘The Enemy Files’ related only to the notion of blood sacrifice, which appears to have been missed by some kneejerk reactionaries.
And while other commentators have made more blunt comparisons, we feel that the significance of nuance is significant – and cannot be discarded – from the wider debate.
Can the men of 1916 be academically assessed as single-minded, radicalised suicide attackers? God was referenced a century ago, just as Allah is referenced by IS/Daesh, but, for us, comparing both groups doesn’t really stack up.
The men of 1916 fought for the creation of an Irish Republic. These radicals, in Paris, in Brussels, in Ankara, are not fighting for a similar goal: they have corrupted the religion they profess fealty to.
Equality, similar to that espoused by the signatories 100 years ago, was not on the agenda of the men who entered the Bataclan Theatre or the Maelbeek Metro to kill, to maim, to disfigure.
Like the Irish in Britain in the 1970s, the terrorist attacks, supposedly made in the name of their religion, is going to make life for ordinary Muslims more difficult, and have no doubt they shall be treated with more suspicion, a most an unwelcome outcome.
Here in Ireland, once our formal 1916 commemorations are concluded, we need our new government to lay the foundation for a new inclusive Ireland, a State now home to many different creeds, ethnicities and beliefs: a Second Irish Republic.
Improved integration and inclusion are pathways which we all need to walk: socially, civically, politically and culturally. We have already seen great strides made through both sport and the arts. Good work has already been furthered on these fronts in Waterford, but so much more needs to be done.
Dangers exist, and this cannot be denied. What we, as a nation, now need to do, is to act positively, and that’s why integration is so integral to the future of our State.
The next year is likely to see some significant international changes: a new incumbent in the White House, coupled with the prospect of Britain potentially leaving the European Union. Migration will also remain on the European agenda.
Commemoration is important. It’s vital, and how fortunate we are to have such superb museum exhibitions in place in our city, for locals and visitors alike to enjoy, honouring our past.
We ought to honour the roots of our State and it is welcome to see us having a much wider debate about the birth of modern Ireland than proved the case in 1966, where the emphasis was on celebration, rather than commemoration.
Better political leadership is required in the months ahead. We want a Government that can build on the undoubted progress this still young State has made since 1916. But there is so much more that needs to be done, with inclusion a vital element on the agenda for the years that lie ahead.

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