The past is indeed a foreign country. The past in Ireland certainly has been.
For most of us, we grew up in an Ireland constrained in thought, in mind, and in action. Because we felt perhaps quite rightly, that our country was not at pace with the rest of the world. We were a country that knew little of the delights of tagliatelle and cappuccinos, we were a country that ‘ate its dinner’ in the middle of the day. A country that felt that the only way to talk was to mimic the received prononciation of our neighbours across the Irish Sea. We were a country that celebrated the honourable defeat, a country that felt it lay well behind the culture of not just the developed world, but the entire world. Grateful for what we had, happy to pretend to the world that we drank ‘tay’ from blue willow cups and that our comely maidens were not minding mice, but dancing, at those proverbial crossroads.
But in the space of about 30 years, this country has moved on a century. Ireland and the Irish have been fast-tracked into the ways of the world. We’re no longer waiting a week to find out who shot JR. We now know our mocha from our mucky. We’re out there making a mark unsurpassed for a nation of our size. True we have our problems. Hundreds of children woke up this morning in the hotel room that is their home, their garden, their playgrounds. Thousands of elderly greet the dawn with relief after a night of watching and fearing of being burgled n their remote homes. Hope of owning a home are dashed for many and with that comes despair and inner torment.
To help combat these matters as we enter a second century since the Rising, we need vision and leadership and an ability to see things through.
Thankfully, in this modern Ireland, our young people start their lives not constrained by the ideologies of the past.
Many of us have only found the ability to change things when we are well into our lives. Imagine how fired up this country can be if the next generation are fuelled with a desire for change and fairness right through their young years. The future belongs to the youth.
With that in mind, this week, I am handing over this space to a view expressed by the younger generations. All over the country yesterday, schools have been marking the centenary of the Rising by writing their own version of the Proclamation, in effect creating a blueprint for the Ireland they want to live in or be from. They want to shape the country that will shape them.
Ther following is the proclamation written by the students of Galway Community College who have generously allowed me to reprint their Proclamation. It is signed by four students on behalf of all the students and teachers there.
THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC
TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND
Irishmen and Irishwomen: In the name of the dead generations from which our dream of a prosperous Ireland receives her old tradition of Nationhood, we summon Her children to our nation’s flag as we strive towards a nation that is economically, politically and socially stable.
Its citizens shall be treated with dignity and respect, irrespective of race, religion, or social standing. Being Irish can mean it is the country of your birth or simply the country in which you now reside. Being truly Irish means that we stand against oppression while believing in the ideal of freedom irrespective of the odds against us.
The people of Ireland aspire to achieve a peaceful independence and offer our support to peoples suffering oppression on a global scale. We shall also endeavour to loosen the economic shackles that foreign governments and banks have placed upon an innocent and hardworking people. Our future generations deserve nothing less. Such economic oppression has transformed us into a dependent nation.
We shall implement a plan to equally distribute economic wealth to the children of our nation and lessen our dependency on money hungry powers. We shall also distance ourselves from our current state of over-dependency on multi-national companies and foreign banks and in return we ask for loyalty from our nation’s citizens and for respect for our Constitution.
The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights, and equal opportunities to each and every citizen of the Irish state. We declare our resolve to ensure happiness and prosperity for all our citizens, cherishing all the children of the Nation equally while being oblivious to the social and economic differences fostered by previous Irish governments and external commercial forces.
Our nation’s resources should be owned and protected solely by its citizen. Basic human rights and the dignity of the Irish citizen will always be given priority.
Signed on behalf of the students of Galway Community College