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Project May 6, 2016

Ireland Still Rising After 100 Years?


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Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams campaigning in Belfast this April. Image by Paula Allen. Ireland, 2016.

One century after the Easter Rising of 1916, is Irish nationalism still relevant? Ireland is marking 100 years since the Easter Rising, a defining moment in Irish history in which men and women mounted an armed rebellion against colonial British rule and declared an independent Republic.

In the south of Ireland, the centenary coincides with the repercussions of an economic boom, followed by a crash and severe cuts. After $30 billion in new taxes and slashes to public spending amounting to over 15 percent of GDP, forty percent of Irish children live in poverty, one in ten people is at risk of hunger, and for each person taking up a job two people of working age have emigrated (according to the government's own statistics). Voters are fed up, and the southern state's two major political parties took a drubbing in the last elections, leaving Sinn Fein, the Rising-era party of national independence the largest opposition party in the Dublin government.

In the north, voters who are still subject to British rule have endured a decade of Tory cuts. They're voting this spring too, some for the first time. Eighteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, a generation born in peace will be casting their first votes in regional elections this May. Does the nationalist cause, as represented by Sinn Fein, resonate with the new generation, or are they more drawn to new left and anti-austerity parties who don't share Sinn Fein's history, specifically its support of armed resistance?

Three decades after first reporting from Belfast during the Troubles, journalist and grantee Laura Flanders returns to Ireland with photographer Paula Allen to take a fresh look at Irish nationalism through the stories of people who've lived through the last half century, like the Groves family of West Belfast whose daughter, born at the height of the Troubles, is now a Sinn Fein councilwoman, a former IRA "blanket man" and the relatives of 1916 rebels, who are mounting a campaign to save a historic site from being turned into a shopping mall.



teal halftone illustration of a family carrying luggage and walking


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