Students and staff at Mount Seskin C.C. celebrated Proclamation Day at an event held in the college P.E. Hall on March 15th, 2016.
Mr. Jim Halpin, senior history teacher, was the master of ceremonies and Ms. Emir Murphy was in charge of sound.
Mr. Charlie Ferguson, deputy-principal delivered the key-note address.
Six Students: Ciara Carey, Séan Byrne, Jasmine Murphy, Michael Eastwood, Seamus Doyle Ó Droigneáin and Lauryn Gaffney each read extracts from the Proclamation.
The flag was raised by Mr. Ferguson and this was followed by the singing of Amhrán na bhFiann by the college's choir. Ms. Fiona Ryan and Ms. Aoibheann Maher accompanied the choir on the keyboard and flute, respectively.
Text of Mr. Ferguson's speech: -
To-day, we are celebrating the events of the Easter Rising in 1916.
Easter 1916, is often considered the beginning of the birth of our modern nation. Of course, we had to wait a further five years before we got partial independence i.e. twenty-six counties out of thirty-two. Though we had to settle for freedom for an area amounting approximately to five sixths of the country, it was a huge achievement given that Britain was the global superpower of the time.
It is very important to remember that the vast majority of the Irish people would have been happy with a degree of independence from Britain; not the complete independence aimed for by the Easter 1916 Leaders. The rebellion was very unpopular, especially in Dublin where most of it took place. The people of the city were appalled at the bloodshed and the destruction of their city. It was an act not democratically agreed upon by the Irish people.
Home Rule, as it was called i.e. a parliament in Dublin for Ireland, but under the British government, was the favourite option for most of the Irish people. John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party (The Home Rule Party) was by far the most popular leader at the time. He called on the Irish people to support Britain in the war (World War 1). Irish people responded very positively and joined the British army in their thousands. Britain, in return, promised, that Home Rule would come into effect after the war was over. Instead of being introduced in 1914 as had been expected, it was just being postponed! For generations, Irish people had campaigned for Home Rule, most notably, under Daniel O'Connell and Charles Stuart Parnell.
There were those in Ireland who felt that Britain's difficulty was Ireland's opportunity. Padraic Pearse, Tom Clarke and Séan Mac Diarmada did not trust the British promise of Home Rule, nor were they happy with it. They wanted complete freedom for Ireland. They would lead the Easter Rising of 1916.
In addition, mainly in the Northern part of our country, there was a large number of people (about 1 million) who not only opposed complete freedom from Britain, but also Home Rule for Ireland as a whole. They called Home Rule, Rome Rule. They were mostly Protestant, led by a Dublin man William Carson and were known as Unionists. They feared that a Home Rule Parliament dominated by Roman Catholics wouldn't be tolerant of their Protestant Traditions.
The Proclamation is a statement by the group of people who came together for what we know as the Easter Rising. They wanted to establish a republic - Something quite beyond Home Rule. This noble objective would give rise to blood sacrifice.
To-day, I want you to listen carefully to the readings from the Proclamation. Some of the themes you will hear, include:-
(i) Equal rights and opportunities for all people of Ireland. This would include the distribution of wealth. James Connolly, Micheal Malin and even Séan O'Casey, who thought the rising a mistake, are believed to have had influence on this part of the document.
(ii) That this republic would be inclusive of the Unionist tradition on our island.
(iii) That men and women would have an equal say in the running of the country. This was progressive given that women did not have the right to vote at the time. They would vote in the 1918 General Election for the first time.
(iv) That there would be religious liberty. Here, the Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions would have been very much in mind. If it were 2016, they would probably have included Islam, Athesism and others.
Finally, I want you to reflect on how you as an individual might contribute to making this an even better country for all our people. Have we lived up to the ideals of the Proclamation! If we were to write a Proclamation for 2016 what might we include?
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a-anamacha dilis.