One century after the Easter Rising of 1916, Ireland is marking a defining moment in its history: an armed rebellion against imperial rule, and a week in which a few thousand visionaries took over Central Dublin and declared an independent Republic of equals. Three decades after first reporting from Belfast during the so-called "Troubles", a thirty-year conflict over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, Laura Flanders returned to Ireland this April, to take a fresh look at Irish nationalism through the stories of people who've lived through the last half century.
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 cast their first votes in regional elections this May. Does the nationalist cause, as represented by Sinn Fein, resonate with this new generation, or are they more drawn to new, explicitly socialist and communist and anti-austerity parties who don't share Sinn Fein's historic support of armed resistance?
In this episode we hear testimony from the Groves family of West Belfast whose daughter, born at the height of the Troubles, is now a Sinn Fein councilwoman; Fra McCann a former IRA prisoner, now running for office, and anti-austerity, anti-gentrification activists in the South, who are fighting to save a historic site of the 1916 revolt from being turned into a shopping mall. This episode combines footage Laura shot in 1984 as well as new interviews.