Posted on 11 September 2019
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic was a document issued by the Irish Citizen Army in 1916.
This was the year of the Easter Rising, also known as the Easter Rebellion, which was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week, April 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic.
1916 was the year when the British were midway through fighting in the First World War and the Irish rebels saw this as the perfect opportunity to strike. The Easter Rising would become the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798.
Freedom and Sovereignty
The Proclamation expressed the hopes and plans of the revolutionaries. Their primary purpose was to declare that an independent Irish Republic had been established and that a provisional government had been appointed. Ireland’s ‘national right to freedom and sovereignty’ would be powerfully asserted.
Though a tiny minority, the rebels claimed to speak on behalf of the whole country declaring, ‘Ireland through us summons her children to her flag’ and could thus ‘prove itself worthy of [its] august destiny’.
This appeal for support sprang from their conviction that they were acting in the country’s best interests.
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic stated explicitly who had organised and planned the Rising. It also referred to the help provided by ‘gallant allies in Europe’. In fact, promised German aid failed to reach the rebels.
Nonetheless the claim damned their leaders in the eyes of the British government. It had been included in order to increase the likelihood of Ireland being granted independence at a post-war peace conference, when it was assumed a victorious Germany would dictate the terms
In part, the document was concerned to justify the Rising; it did so by linking the proclamation to previous Irish history. It stated that: ‘the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom, in arms, six times during the past 300 years’. This implied that the present action was not a sudden, opportunist outbreak but part of a long-established nationalist tradition of a united and independent Ireland.
Their actions and sacrifice helped implant this as a future national aspiration of the Irish people.
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic suggested that the Rising was not just a political event but also foreshadowed the social and economic change that would come. It provided a vision of a free Irish state which would oversee the welfare of all its citizens.
Ultimately the Easter Rising was crushed. Its rebels had only managed to last for six days before the British Army sent in thousands of troops and brought it to a bloody and swift end.
The Proclamation of the Republic Text
THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC TO THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND
IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN:
In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.
Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.
We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.