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Remember Willie Redmond, whose death changed the course of Irish political history?

No? One Labour TD believes that more should be done to commemorate Redmond, an East Clare MP who died in World War I.

A bronze bust of Redmond in Redmond Memorial Park, County Wexford.
A bronze bust of Redmond in Redmond Memorial Park, County Wexford.

IN 1917, THE Member of Parliament for East Clare, William Redmond, died in the Battle of Messines in Belgium.

In the ensuing by-election, a young whippersnapper by the name of Éamon de Valera gained a seat in parliament for the first time, and would go on to dominate Irish politics for the following century.

However, little has been done to mark this milestone in Irish politics, and the current Labour TD for Clare Michael McNamara believes Redmond should be included in the programme of commemorations taking place as part of the Decade of Centenaries.

“My request is that that a suitable opportunity be found over the next few years to commemorate the life, work and death of a distinguished and honourable man,” he said.

The centenary of Eamon de Valera’s victory in East Clare in 1917 will rightly be commemorated but I also believe that some space should be afforded to his long forgotten predecessor.

McNamara says that Redmond disliked British rule in Ireland, but fought in World War as he feared that Ireland would be quickly overrun by an invading Germany.

“He believed that Protestants and Catholics serving together at the Front could act as a catalyst for reconciliation. He believed that the shared experience of the trenches was bringing Irishmen together and overcoming the differences between Unionists and Nationalists.”

De Valera, who was 21 years younger than Redmond, did not fight in World War 1 and went on to take part in the 1916 Rising.

Pics: Enda Kenny and David Cameron honour war dead in Belgium >

Slideshow: Irish World War I recruitment posters >

Ó Cuív: Historic differences shouldn’t stop Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael coalition debate >

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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