Donnybrook: Rebellion

As you review your choices for winter streaming drama, check out RTE’s (The Irish BBC, only better) five-part miniseries, called Rebellion. While the series was produced for the centennial of the Easter Uprising in 2016, it is now readily available on Netflix. And, only five fast episodes, so you do not have to invest your life into it.

Largely well produced, but like any historical drama, the series sets itself up for pushback on the angle from which it is told. Rebellion gives the average Yank a good overview of the mid 19teens during WW1 and the 1916 Easter Rising era.

In some ways, like Upstairs/Downstairs, the series jumps from the average working folk to leaders of the Irish move to independence, as well as the upper-class engagement and some of the Brit rulers. Give it a look, you will enjoy your time with this historic period series.

Stormont Returns
Last month, the six county statelet known as Northern Ireland turned a historic page. After a two year walk out by the Unionists, who were having a hard time swallowing the democratic results of the 2022 elections, where Sinn Fein, the leading nationalist party, won the most votes, refused to take their seats. As the power sharing nature of the Northern Ireland Assembly requires the nationalist and unionist parties to jointly govern, any walk out by the Orangemen and women left the Assembly unable to meet or govern.

For the last two years, London had to manage day to day affairs. Unionists were also upset about the Irish Sea Border created by Boris Johnson and the E.U. because of Brexit. Unionist howls of treachery have gone on for two years now.

Thankfully I believe the Loyalists saw there was no long-term benefit to their temper tantrum. The Northern Ireland Assembly is back in session at Stormont, let them lead forward.

History and Herstory in the Making
For the first time in the 100 years of Northern Ireland’s existence, an Irish Nationalist is at the head of Government. And for the first time in Stormont history, two women are at the head of government, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neil is First Minister and Emma Little-Pengelly of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is Deputy First Minister.

While both titles have equal authority under the power sharing government created by the Good Friday Agreement, the title of First Minister has more stature and bragging rights. The DUP walk out in 2022 has forestalled this reality until last month in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Emma Little-Pengelly
The loyalist new Deputy First Minister at Stormont (N.I. parliament) comes from a strong Orange family. Her father was a leader in the loyalist paramilitary group, “Ulster Resistance.” He was convicted of trading stolen nuclear documents to the South African government in return for arms for loyalist paramilitary groups.

Emma Little-Pengelly started her own political career as a Special Advisor to the Rev. Ian Paisely. She served one tour as a Member of the British Parliament before losing her seat to the SDLP.

When Jefferey Donaldson resigned his seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly after the creation of the Irish Sea Border, Ms. Little-Pengelly was appointed to fill his seat. She is a 44-year-old barrister and attended Queens University in Belfast.

At the opening of the Assembly, Little-Pengelly said: “Michelle O’Neil and I come from very different backgrounds, but regardless of that for my part, I will work tirelessly to deliver for all in Northern Ireland.” Her words are promising, time will tell.

Michelle O’Neill
The leader of Sinn Fein in the Six Counties has marked her place in history as the first First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly who comes from the Nationalist Community. Sinn Fein is Ireland’s oldest political party, and really, the only party that competes in both the Six Counties and The Republic of Ireland. Michelle was born in County Cork, her father, Brendan Doris, was in the provisional IRA and a Sinn Fein Leader, her uncle is Paul Doris, who was a long serving President of Irish Northern Aid in the U.S.A. 

Michelle largely grew up in County Tyrone in the North. She has been Sinn Fein Vice President, serving with Mary Lou McDonald, President. O’Neil said it is a “New Dawn” in Ireland, never would her parents or grandparents have conceived of the day she would be the leader in The Six Counties. 

O’Neill said she will lead with an “open hand and an open heart.” Her moniker has been that she will be a “First Minister for All.”

At her swearing in, Michelle declared that “As First Minister, I am whole heartedly committed to continuing the work of reconciliation between all our people. The past cannot be changed nor undone, what we all can do is build a better future. I will never ask anyone to move on, but I do really hope we can all move forward.

“I want us to walk in harmony and friendship. My eyes are firmly fixed on the future. I believe in our young people; they can change our society; they can change our world, if we only give them a chance.” 

Both O’Neill and Little-Penny have started off with a positive and new approach. Let’s hope the women can do a better job than the men have done during the last century of Northern Ireland’s existence. Let us hope for continued peace and progress on the journey to One Island, One Ireland.

Sinead and Shane
A celebration will take place on March 20th at the venerable Carnegie Hall in NYC to remember the recent passing of Shane MacGowan and Sinead O’Connor. Leading the celebration will be Dropkick Murphys, Glen Hansard, Amanda Palmer, Bettye LaVette, Gordon Gano, Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hutz, Julia Coming, Kat Edmonson, The Mountain Goats and the Resistance Revival Chorus.  O’Connor died at the young age of 56 last July and MacGown at 65 this past fall. Looking forward to great music.

John Unionist RIP
Former Fine Gael Taoiseach John Bruton passed away last month. Bruton served as Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997. He served opposite U.K. P.M. John Major. Both lost in 1997, Bruton to Bertie Ahern and Major to Tony Blair. 

Ahern and Blair went on to build the Good Friday Agreement with the push from President Bill Clinton and negotiator George Mitchell in 1998. Bruton was called “John Unionist” by some in the nationalist community due to his seeming deference to the U.K. government.

Fine Gael governments have seemingly continued this tradition. The current Fine Gael government in Dublin has failed to demand full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and stood by for two years while the Stormont government collapsed. Shockingly no efforts are being made to plan or prepare the populace for the concepts or shape of an agreed upon united Ireland.

However, Sinn Fein President McDonald shared, “I wish to extend sympathies to the family, friends, and Fine Gael colleagues of former Taoiseach John Bruton. John gave many decades of service to the State and to his party. I extend, on behalf of Sinn Féin, my condolences.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.” Literal: At right-hand-side of-God may be his soul faithful. Meaning: May his faithful soul be at the right hand of God.

Find this and other John Myer’s Donnybrook and other columns  HERE!

John Myers

John Myers

*John is an attorney in Cleveland. He can be reached at [email protected]


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