The 1916 proclamation, the manifesto of the 1916 rebels, states
“The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”
These noble aspirations would become almost a bible of Irish Republican ideals but little did the authors know that within six years, Irish people would have a chance to implement them after The War of Independence in 1922. However the society established after the war of independence “The Irish Free State” was a pale shadow of even the most modest interpretation of this document.
Civil liberties were almost non existent, citizens were not equal with women becoming second class while the poor were plunged further in destitution. The history of early Irish Independence is often passed over with a less than critical eye that glorifies state building at any cost. However behind this abstract veneer lies the story of a dark authoritarian regime based on repression, discrimination and censorship. This was enforced by deeply authoritarian attitudes underscored by severe catholic morality which stifled culture and allowed no political debate or opposition of any kind. By 1937 the “The Irish Free State” had created a society that had betrayed the ideals of what many had set out achieve two decades earlier. (more…)