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Monday 21st January marks a significant milestone in Irelands History, On January 21st 1919, the First Dail (An Chéad Dáil) met in Dublin and declared an independent Irish Republic. It also marked the first day of the War of Independence (Cogadh na Saoirse) , The war lasted from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army and the British security forces in Ireland, Now One Hundred years later it is a time to reflect on what that independence has meant and what type of a Republic we want moving forward.

My Grandfather fought in the War of Independence as part of Fianna Éireann, Fianna Éireann was an Irish nationalist youth organisation founded by Bulmer Hobson and Constance Markievicz. Constance Markievicz  was also the first woman in the world to hold a cabinet position. My Grandfather was proud of the part he played in the fight for Irish Freedom and was a staunch republican. The chief of staff of Fianna Éireann was Eamon Martin and My grandfather’s certificate signed by Martin and a picture of my grandad from 1919 hangs proudly in my home as a reminder of the struggles. My Grandad came from the tenements in Kearns place in inner city Dublin, he would of known hard times. Poverty and hunger was rife in Dublin’s tenements and they were overcrowded . The War of Independence was followed by the Irish Civil War and the bitter legacy of the Civil war went on to dictate and dominate Irish Politics for decades

MY GRANDAD

One wonders what the people who stood in First Dail and those that fought for Independence would make of our modern day Republic , Over the last 100 years we have had much change socially and economically , we have made major strides in Equality in terms of Marriage Equality etc. but we also had decades where many woman and children were treated as second class citizens in many institutions right up to the 1990s and yet again in 2019 many still live in constant poverty , we step over many people sleeping rough in our city centre , we have families in hotels and hubs , some live in overcrowding conditions etc. As recoveries came and went more and more where left behind as the gap between the haves and the have nots grew. The poverty of today in many ways replicates the poverty of years gone by. Has much really changed? Many had to leave our shore for dreams of a better life in other countries. Many left due to lack of work and poverty. We have much as a nation much to be proud of but we also have much to be ashamed of.

We hear we are living longer and that is a great development but people’s quality of life and living standards for some are below standard, is that the Modern republic we want? Do we want a republic of equals? Where every citizen has enough to survive and has a place to call Home? Do we want a country of real equality where everyone has the same opportunities to education, work and a decent standard of Living? Indeed the 1916 The Proclamation of the Republic (Forógra Na Poblachta) spoke about equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens. Do we want an Ireland where all people with Disability are fully inclusive members of our society? Our record on mental health and suicide has been to say the least shocking for such a small country. Do we want an Ireland where corruption and scandal is a thing of the past and we have openness, accountability and transparency in all aspects of Government and state departments, local, national and European?  I would love to see a national debate on the Ireland we want going forward. There is much to debate and much to think about as we pass the 100 years since the First Dail and the beginning of the War of Independence. We will see a truly modern inclusive republic? Tiocfaidh ár lá