Sunday, July 12, 2009

Inclusion and self-exclusion

Today in Dublin there was a ceremony for the National Day of Commemoration, which honours all Irish people who have died in past wars. The current form of the day reflects decades of controversy, but one wonders if it has now taken a little too much of the Celtic Tiger ethos where objectives of worthiness and Irishness (as defined by an elite) obliterate actual content. Read the announcement of the Taoiseach's office about the event. Is it clear whether the ceremony is for soldiers or for any Irish person who died in any war? Kevin Myers might want to know whether Sean Russell is included. Now of course it's great that Islamic and Coptic Orthodox Church representatives are invited to participate. But those religions had no role in Ireland's tangled messy history, the underyling reason for having such an event.

Finally, a quirk of the calendar sees this year's commemoration taking place on the 12th of July. Do the gentlemen above constructing a 60 foot bonfire in Belfast seem much interested in the National Day of Commemoration? But -- and we ask this seriously, not sarcastically -- has the day really fulfilled its purpose if it tries to carry on including everyone except the people who still embody the divisions of Irish history?

Photo: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

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