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John Bruton reckons Ireland would have become independent without 1916

The former taoiseach said we shouldn’t glorify the Easter Rising.

John Bruton
John Bruton
Image: Sam Boal

FORMER TAOISEACH JOHN Bruton has claimed that Irish independence would have been achieved without the 1916 Rising, saying the event should not be glorified.

His comments come as the country prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rising next year, with commemorative events beginning in January.

In an interview with UTV Ireland this week, Bruton claimed that independence from the United Kingdom would have been achieved through constitutional means, without the need for violence, albeit not as quickly.

“If we hadn’t had the rebellion, we probably would have proceeded – maybe not quite as quickly – to full independence by constitutional methods,” he said.

He said the enactment of Home Rule had provided legislative independence and there was, in his view, no need for the war of independence which followed the Rising.

“Looking back at Irish history, Home Rule was enacted two years before the Rising in Dublin and was already on the statute book and was going to come into effect anyway.

So there was probably, in my view, no need at all for the killing that took place between 1916 and 1923.

“Of course we must commemorate and remember the heroism and the sacrifice of the people who rose in 1916,” he said.

But we shouldn’t glorify it. We should remember that most of the things that were really important – the reform of the Land Laws, the achievement of legislative independence – were already achieved without 1916.

In the same interview, the former Fine Gael leader ruled out running for the presidency.

He said “the constraints of that office are quite considerable” and that his present position allows him to say things that are controversial.

Last year, Bruton was criticised for describing the Rising as “a mistake”.

Read: 5 ways John Bruton has probably annoyed the government over the last few years

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Hugh O'Connell

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