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(en) Workers Solidarity No78 - Review: Robert Emmet and the rising of 1803 - Ruan O' Donnell- Irish Academic Press

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 12 Nov 2003 15:42:34 +0100 (CET)

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The 1803 rebellion came to be associated with one man, Robert
Emmet because that suited both the government of that time and later
day nationalists in search of a romantic nationalist interpretation of
the rebellion. As with the great rebellion of 1798, the process of
burying the radical ideas of the rebellion was bound up in creating
mystical notions of blood sacrifice and individual heroism.
The bi-centennary of the 1798 rebellion http://struggle.ws/andrew/1798.html
saw the radical ideas that lay
at the roots of it being recovered. Instead of a romantic nationalist
rising for the four green fields and the faith of our fathers it was put in
the context of the wave of European / Atlantic radicalism that
demanded equality for all. The United Irishmen were revealed not as
narrow nationalists but as part of an international democratic upsurge
against monarchy and colonialism that transformed the world we live
in. See http://struggle.ws/rbr/rbr4_1798.html

The traditional history of 1803 is little more than a 'blood sacrifice'
intended to confirm Ireland's right to independence. Ruan O'Donnell's
book concentrates on exploding the myth that the rising was doomed
from the start. It was planned not as a noble gesture of a handful of
nationalists but rather as a mass uprising intended to decapitate the
British state in Ireland at the very moment of a French invasion and
liberation of the country. What went wrong?

The United Irishmen succeeded in keeping the plans for the rising
secret until there was an explosion at their main secret arsenal in
Dublin. This convinced them that they must rise as soon as possible.
If everything else had gone to plan there was a chance of success.

The key munitions that were missing were the guns needed to fire the
vast stores of musket balls and gunpowder that had been secured.
When the rank and file mobilising in Dublin discovered that very few
guns were to be had many of them voted with their feet and returned

At least 30 United Irishmen including Emmet were executed in the
period after the rising. His courtroom speech and the spirit of
self-sacrifice it contained was to make him the best known of the
United Irishmen. The speech gave a romantic nationalist cloak under
which the radical social program of the United Irishmen could be

Emmet is a safe figure for those who rule Ireland today. The 200th
anniversary of his trial and execution happened to fall as the High
Court was jailing bin tax protesters. http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html
Yet it was official Ireland in the
form of the Minister for Justice, the Taoiseach and a Supreme Court
judge that were the honoured guests at these events. The trial was
re-enacted in the very same spot, Green Street court, as 200 years
before. This is still used by the state for political trials, but nowadays
without jury or the right to a speech from the dock. It's otherwise
known as the Special Criminal Court.

Andrew Flood

Some Anarchist history and theory on revolution
Labour history of Ireland

This page is from the print version of the Irish Anarchist paper
'Workers Solidarity'. http://struggle.ws/wsm/paper.html
We also provide PDF files of all our publications
for you to print out and distribute locally
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