Friday, 13 May 2011

300 men and three men

May 13th 2011
In all its uglier guises I hate nationalism.  Benign nationalism is fine, e.g. beating England at anything (so long as we can enjoy each other’s good company – over a few pints maybe – before, during and after), the surge of national pride felt when someone like Katie Taylor steps on to the podium to receive another gold medal.  But chest-beating nationalism, as in ‘the best little nation in the world,’ or ‘the most hospitable nation in the world,’ or the wittiest or the wisest or whatever you're having yourself – must have been away when all those particular competitions were held.  As for the tattooed, in-your-face, aggressive nationalism – keep it, and welcome to it.
There are occasions, however, when we have to stand up as a nation, times of national crisis; now is one of those occasions.
In November 2010, when the ECB demanded of our government that as a condition of getting the much-needed funds to keep the country running in the face of a massive budget deficit, they would also have to assume the massive bank/bondholder debt, it represented an attack on this country.  No shots fired, no bombs dropped, no blood spilt, but an attack nevertheless, a potentially lethal attack at that.
To coincide with the 95th anniversary of the execution of James Connolly there was a protest in Kildare Street on Thursday evening last outside the Dáil against that bondholder bailout deal, small in number, and I couldn't help but wonder – how many of those inside those gates today would do as Connolly did then, put themselves in the line of fire for the sake of their country’s freedom and independence?  Successive governments have failed us, so on this, we must stand for ourselves.
The opening lines of the opening verse of that song, A Nation Once Again, has always resonated with me: ‘When boyhood’s fire was in my blood, I read of ancient freemen; of Greece and Rome who bravely stood, 300 men and three men.’  The 300 we all know about now, Leonidas and his Spartans - the power of modern media; of Horatius and his two companions who held the bridge over the Tiber, saved Rome from the army of Clusium, less is known.  Both, however, were instances of a few standing against overwhelming odds, a delaying action.  Well, only a few are standing now against the actions of the ECB; in Ballyhea, in Fermoy, in Dublin on Thursday last, in a few other areas around the country.  Until such time as this nation awakens to what has been done to it, until it rallies to its own cause, we will stay standing, and we will stay fighting.  We must.
Then out spake brave Horatius,
          The Captain of the Gate:
     "To every man upon this earth
          Death cometh soon or late.
     And how can man die better
          Than facing fearful odds,
     For the ashes of his fathers,
          And the temples of his gods.”
Diarmuid O'Flynn.