10 January 2006

Council calls for return of Easter Rising surrender letter

09/01/2006 - 23:00:37

Dublin City Council is to write to the British government calling for the return of a surrender letter rebel leader Padraig Pearse handed to an English general after the Easter Rising, it emerged tonight.

Sinn Féin councillor Christy Burke is demanding the return of the handwritten document given to General WHM Lowe after Pearse agreed to an unconditional surrender on April 29, 1916.

He also wants an all-party Dublin City Council delegation to go to the UK National Archives in Surrey to check for more 1916 artefacts.

Tonight Mr Burke said he was very pleased his motion at the council meeting was moved to report without objections, allowing for a letter to be sent to the British Ministry of Defence.

Mr Burke said having the surrender document returned was important, particularly for young people who did not know much about the Easter Rising.

“It’s the only properly handwritten letter left, and we’re going to have a museum, and he was a leader, so think it’s appropriate that we have our history, which is very valuable to us.

“I think it’s important that all aspects of the Rising are on display in the museum.”

The motion the councillor had put before Dublin City Council said: “This council calls on the Irish Government and the Minister for Defence to request from the British Government and the British Ministry of Defence, the handwritten letter by Padraig Pearse, Commander in Chief of the Irish Volunteers in Moore Street at Easter 1916.

“This letter should be preserved when returned, and placed in archives or a museum as part of the collection of historic 1916 artefacts.”

The Marino councillor says although the British claim the surrender note is part of their history, its rightful resting place is in Ireland.

Mr Burke wants the letter put into an Easter Rising museum planned for No 16 Moore Street in the capital, where Pearse and his fellow volunteers finally surrendered.

The building became a brief headquarters for the Rising leaders after they abandoned the GPO on Friday, April 28, 1916.

Pearse made the decision to surrender with Thomas Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Sean MacDermott and William Pearse when they were gathered round the bed of wounded James Connolly on Easter Saturday.

The letter reads: “In order to prevent the further slaughter of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the members of the Provisional Government present at Headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and the commandants of the various districts in the City and County will order their commands to lay down arms.”

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