Tuesday, February 28, 2006

1916 Commemoration

Rather than a military parade down O’Connell St, the 1916 commemoration would be better marked by the formulation of a new “New Proclamation" for 21st Century Ireland.

The Government constantly reminds us of the success of the economy, but seems incapable of setting out any vision of what might constitute a successful society. The middle-classes are pre-occupied with property values, while the super-rich have declared themselves non-resident, at least for tax purposes. We are increasingly becoming an economy rather than a society.

The process of drafting a new proclamation would require a broad and robust discussion on the shape and needs of a modern Irish society, with the objective of creating a document which enjoys wide national acceptance and which can function as a “moral compass” to guide our elected politicians and ourselves in years to come.

Such a proclamation would include our aspirations for dealing with the national question in the much changed political and economic circumstances in which we now live, in the process "decommissioning" the more emotive language and violent solutions of the 1916 version.

A new proclamation should also set out the vision for the role of the Republic in the wider world, dealing with such thorny issues as immigration, neutrality, Third World role etc..

It’s highly likely that such an exercise would end in failure, with a consensus vision proving impossible to agree. But it would be far from wasted effort if it opened a wide-ranging debate on where, if anywhere, we are going as a society, rather than an economy.

Footnote: Published as a letter by the Irish Times and the Irish Independent.

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