Today we will look at the Proclamation.
No one is quite sure who wrote the proclamation. Although it is likely that it was mostly written by Patrick Pearse and James Connolly. The Proclamation was read either on the steps of the GPO, or at the base of Nelsons Pillar on O Connell street. Historians cannot agree on the issue and accounts vary. Neither can historians agree if it was read by Patrick Pearse or Thomas Clarke. Perase having greater skills as an orator is perhaps the most likely of the two.
The Proclamation was ahead of its time in many ways. Firstly it is addressed to Irishmen AND Irish women. Addressing it to Irishwomen as well as Irishmen caused quite a stir. It called for universal suffrage, meaning the right to vote be given equally to men and women. This was at a time when no European country except Sweden had given women the right to vote. In this regard the proclamation was truly revolutionary.
The proclamation also called for a Republic. This too was very progressive. In 1916 most European countries were ruled by a King or Queen.
There are unfortunately many ways in which the Irish state has not lived up to demands and promises of the Proclamation.
The Proclamation calls for all the children of the state to be treasured equally. In recent years the histories of the industrial schools and the Magdalene laundries that have come to light have shown that the Irish state and Irish people did not treasure some children at all.
The Proclamation also guarantees Religious and Civil Liberties.The Religious and Civil liberties of all the people of Ireland were not protected by the Irish state. Ireland for most of its existence as an Independent state was not a welcoming place for those whose Religious,Civil or social beliefs lay outside the norm.
The Proclamations promises equal opportunities to all the people of Ireland. We must ask ourselves if the proclamation meant anything to the 1 million people who had to emigrate in the first 40 years of Independence due to a lack of opportunities. . That million went, for the most part to England where, ironically many found the opportunities and social freedom denied to them in Ireland.
Patrick Pearse was a poet and writer. How ironic then that the state that he helped to found, could find no place in it for two of our greatest writers. Oscar Wilde lived in France and now lies in a cemetery in Paris , James Joyce’s, who’s great novel Ulyses was at one stage banned by the Irish State, lies in a grave yard in Zurich, Switzerland.
Perhaps over the next 100 years our mission should be to build a new republic that truly does meet the standards set by the Proclamation.