Rewriting The 2016 Commemoration
Last week I talked about how to celebrate 1916. This will be both facetious and serious and limited due to space. There’s what I’d like to happen and there’s what would be acceptable to the rest of the country. Then again, I think the country needs a 10-year time out, from Europe, from deals, from all debt, and especially from Party Politics, and to be run as a benevolent Dictatorship by a council of skilled nation-builders. I want Iceland in to deal with the banks and bondholders. I want Cuba in to run the health service. We can get the Scots to find oil. And we need a brand new Constitution that protects our remaining resources from being sold off and provides for the return to our ownership the ones we have sold off already. If a law stops us doing the right thing, then we immediately change the law. Most importantly, we fire absolutely everyone in the public service and re-hire the people who can do their job and want to change things. The rest get to help remove water meters or work in soon-to-be-unnecessary soup kitchens. Wouldn’t you like a 10-year break?
As for 2016, let’s use the headings the committee came up with, for fun.
REMEMBER ‘Our Shared History’
Remembering is vital, especially remembering those involved in the Rising, what they did and why they felt they had to do it. The relatives are important too, but even the signatories of the Proclamation would want this to be for everyone. That was the whole point of the Rising. An elite dinner for a few might be accompanied by a state dinner for all – in other words, a commitment to totally eradicate homelessness and hunger using generous, publicly-suggested donations from our tax exiles. As I said before, our shared history with the UK was celebrated already with the Queen’s visit, so instead of inviting some royal cousins, I’d rebuild the "Helga" ( the British gunboat that blew up most of O’Connell St. during the Rising and later sank off the Wexford coast), and I'd sail it down the Liffey, launching barrage after barrage at our ugliest buildings – Hawkins House, O’Connell Bridge House, The Central Bank and Civic Offices, and construction could begin on the beautiful buildings they replaced, including the Art Deco Theatre Royal and the Irish House Pub. Sharing is Caring!
RECONCILE ‘By honouring the peace builders’
We voted for a thing called the Good Friday Agreement and every honour, award and attention has been bestowed on everyone involved. To bang on about recent events would be like someone making you watch the last bunch of Star Wars movies as if they were as good as the originals. Plus we’d have to listen to all that ‘reconciliation’ talk that makes you daydream about shopping when you hear it, like a slow priest’s sermon. I think the reconciliation work needs to be done with 1916 itself. Stop messing around and turn all of the buildings in Moore Street into a brilliant living museum (while maintaining the brilliant shopping street it is now), paid for by the state, that starts you on a Rising Trail and brings you back completely to that time. This will of course mean the removal of a portion of the Ilac centre. Another win! And get rid of that meaningless Spire! Rebuild Nelson’s Pillar and put Pearse on top of it. Even Buenos Aires has a statue of Pearse in the city centre. And put Nelson outside the New Central Bank HQ at the Anglo Site on the North Quays where, with his blind eye and his missing hand, he could represent our recent experiences with Financial Regulation.
IMAGINE ‘A better future’
See my opening paragraph. Another nice way to help people imagine a better future would be to deliver a copy of the original (not ‘re-imagined’) Proclamation to every home. We may not yet cherish all the children of the nation equally. But at least we got the ‘gallant allies’ in Europe bit right…and look where that got us. Maybe Europe could help out now and finish the Motorway from Dublin to Derry – how’s that for reconciliation?
PRESENT ‘Our achievements to the world’
Sometimes we spend so much time presenting our achievements to the world, we forget to present our achievements to ourselves. The world is well aware of the genius emanating from the island, but we have a tendency to big-up a chosen few, propagating the idea of the rarity of genius in our midst, when it is seeping, unexposed, from many Irish pores. The country is full of writers, artists and poets, but it’s also full of gatekeepers who streamline Irish artistic expression into a set of small, fearful cliques and singular epic events. It makes political cronyism look like a transparent tendering process. 2016 should be open season on this ridiculousness, and all these gate-keepers should change their MOs to shake up their festivals and organisations and seek out new or side-lined input from everywhere within Ireland, building a real community of artists. This goes for everything outside the Arts as well.
CELEBRATE ‘Family, Community and Friendship’
One way to really re-enforce this community is to give our diaspora of emigrants the vote. And let this be the Gathering 2, sure, why not? But don’t make it all about that. It’s about radical thought and action in the face of insurmountable odds. We can all be friends and party together, but the main thing we need to get from this is to realise that this city, this country, is ours. If we start thinking collectively, not through fear or influence, but for our mutual benefit, changing Ireland into the country the Founders envisioned will be a walk in the Phoenix Park.