Irish Senator David Norris has sparked fury in Ireland by saying that the Easter Rising rebels were ‘traitors to their own cause’.
He made the controversial comments in a speech to mark the 100 year anniversary of the passage of the Home Rule bill.
He referred to the poem Easter 1916 by WB Yeats. He said: “If one looks at 1916, I believe Yeats was correct in his first impression of some of these people when he said that they were vainglorious. Indeed, they were. They were afraid that history would write them out.
“They were seen by the British as traitors to the Empire but they were traitors to their own cause because Eoin MacNeill, the commander-in-chief, had cancelled the Rising and yet they ignored that.”
Pádraig Pearse singled out for criticism
He singled out Pádraig Pearse, who read out the Proclamation for Irish Independence from the General Post Office, for criticism.
Senator Norris continued: “I have read Claíomh Solais by Pádraig Pearse and all the racist pap in it about the Gaul and the Gael and all this kind of stuff.
“His father was an English Protestant. Cathal Brugha was Charlie Burgess and Éamonn Ceannt was Edward Kent. It is really quite ridiculous.”
Senator Norris’ comments have caused outrage among many Irish people and many leading politicians were quick to denounce his views.
Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White said: “We will continue to take on the revisionist and derogatory comments that are made about people who laid down their lives with bravery and without fear.”
The Home Rule bill was passed on 18 September 1914. It was part of a pledge by the British government that Ireland would be given Home Rule when the war was over.