Truckling to Treason: Belfast Newsletter reflects on the Rebellion, 4th May 1916

3 thoughts on “Truckling to Treason: Belfast Newsletter reflects on the Rebellion, 4th May 1916

  1. It’s remarkable how often James Larkin’s name is mentioned in contemporaneous accounts of the Easter Rising, especially in unionist and British sources. I’ve seen his name referenced in numerous letters, diaries and newspaper reports. Yet in reality he played almost no role in the insurrection or the 1916-21 Revolution, beyond some association with Clan na Gael in the US. His status as unionism’s left-wing bogeyman overshadowed his actual achievements following the 1913 Lockout. I suppose it indicates the level of political ignorance among UK officials and the pro-UK press in Dublin that they were still focused on “Larkinism” as late as 1918.


    1. Yeah, I think that emphasis is revealing about the underlying methodology. My take on that would be that, taking the Newsletter as a proxy for unionist opinion, that unionism had to find an alternative to explaining the Easter Rising as an assertion of the right to self-determination. If it didn’t, it would have to confront unionism’s repeated obstruction of the constitutional route to self-determination (of sorts), in the sense that the pseudo-democratic mechanisms of the United Kingdom’s parliament were used to have Home Rule Bills passed by elected representatives then suppressed by an unelected body. Unionism would then have to (effectively) critique itself. So instead, it tries to promote a narrative around Larkin since (presumably) it feels that it can use the socialist angle as emotional framing so that doesn’t have to confront the flaws in its own position. If you substitute, eg, unionism’s attempts to find a self-serving reading of legacy issues and make it the focus of an election campaign, as opposed to focusing on the impact of Brexit or the likes of RHI, there is something timeless about that Newsletter editorial from May 1916.


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