I know of no one in my Irish network who would agree with John Henderson (“Maine Voices: Honoring the Irish fight for freedom,” April 24) that “Britain can be excused its harsh response to the (Easter) Rising.”

In World War I, 210,000 Irish served under the British flag and 49,647 Irish died while Ireland continued to be an occupied country after 700 years.

The greater tragedy was that when Ireland sent a memo in 1919 to the Paris Peace Conference, to petition to put its case to exercise the right of a democratic people for self-determination, it was ignored.

History still asks two questions “What if the Irish envoys had been admitted to the Paris Peace Conference?” and “What if President Woodrow Wilson’s principle ‘governments derive power from the consent of the governed’ had been applied to this small nation?”

Would not the Irish War of Independence, the Irish Civil War and the Troubles have been avoided?

Beneath the rivers of ink about the 1916 Rising, this fact is ignored: Britain made a colossal mistake in Paris in 1919 and, in doing so, committed, once again, an assault on the exercise of democracy by the Irish people.

What England rebuffed in 1919, it would be forced to negotiate in 1921 in the peace treaty with Ireland.

Ireland put forth a vision to the Paris Conference that is as refreshing now as it was nearly 100 years ago: “The international ambition of Ireland will be to re-create, in some new way, that period of her ancient independence of which she is proudest, when she gave freely of her greatest treasures to every nation within her reach and entertained no thought of recompense or of selfish advantage.”

That was and still is the desire and legacy of one of the world’s youngest nations and oldest civilizations.

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