EDINBURGH, May 7 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – Political prejudice and modern day sectarian attitudes are the reason one of Scotland’s most internationally acclaimed writers and political thinkers remains ignored in the country of his birth, a leading Irish political activist in Edinburgh has told RIA Novosti.
Edinburgh born James Connolly was one of the leaders of the Irish uprising against British rule in 1916 and a contemporary and admirer of Vladimir Lenin.
Connolly was later captured by the British and executed by firing squad 98 years ago this week, but although his legacy as one of the “Fathers of the Nation” in Ireland is internationally recognised, he remains a largely forgotten figure in his native Edinburgh.
“We have to accept there is a political dimension to it,” Jim Slaven, political activist and organiser of the James Connolly Society told RIA Novosti. “Connolly was a revolutionary.”
“He was also a trade unionist, a socialist and a republican, but he said himself that first and foremost he was a revolutionist. That obviously causes problems for the establishment in Scotland and the UK state,” Slaven added.
Slaven called for more to be done to celebrate the contribution Connolly made throughout his whole life and not just his leading role in the Irish Easter uprising.
“What we want is for Connolly to be remembered more broadly, rather than just his role in the Easter rising although that is an important part of it,” Slaven told RIA Novosti.
Slaven added that Connolly was recognised with permanent memorials in the United States and in Ireland but said a prevalent anti-Irish sentiment in Scotland lay behind the lack of national acknowledgement for one of the country’s most influential socialist thinkers and philosophers.
“The Irish dimension to Connolly’s contribution is definitely part of the reason he is overlooked in Scotland. There is a hostility to recognising the Irish community, to recognising the positive contribution it’s made,” Slaven added.
“There is an effort today where elements within Scottish society want to redefine the historic immigration from Ireland as some sectarian problem,” Slaven told RIA Novosti, “whereas what we want to do is create space for people can look at the positive contribution that the Irish community, Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter has made to Scottish society,” Slaven said.
Scots born Sinn Fein Member of Parliament Pat Docherty told RIA Novosti that Connolly was the “guiding brain” of modern-day republicanism “whose ideas and actions inform our political principles and activism.”
“The vision of Connolly and his work as an internationalist and socialist has inspired not just generations of Irish republican activists, but also progressives in Britain and much further afield,” Docherty added.