In 1916 Frank Henderson, along with his brother Leo, was one of the few who stood with Pearse, Plunkett, MacDiarmada, MacDonagh, Ceannt, Clarke and Connolly in the GPO, one of the few who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom and independence of Ireland.
On Monday of this week, Sep 24th 2012, and after a lifetime dedicated to his family, Niall Henderson, son of Frank Henderson, passed away. What Frank Henderson had risked his life to achieve Niall Henderson had built on, and thus had passed on to his daughter and to his three sons a better world.
Frank Henderson was a hero of the war, Niall Henderson a hero of the subsequent peace. He was a gentle and humourous man who worked all the hours God gave to provide for his family, to ensure for them a better life. A quintessential Dub, true-blue, he was a man who would do a full day's work, cycle home for his tea, then cycle back to several more hours of overtime, and still find time to maintain an impeccable garden, to do the dishes, to do more than his share at all times in any situation. He lived a frugal life, a moderate drinker even by moderate standards, yet still managed to ensure that his family enjoyed a holiday every year, that they lacked for nothing, all the while maitaining a cheery and positive outlook.
In truth, for all that Frank Henderson is the one who will be remembered by history (he rose to become Commandant of the Second Battalion of Dublin's Irish Volunteers, wrote a memoir, Frank Henderson's Easter Rising - Recollections Of An Irish Volunteer), the world has more need of men like Niall Henderson - hard-working, caring, sharing. How do I know so much about this extraordinary and exceptional man, how did I come to admire and respect him so much? I married his daughter.
Contrast those men with those who lead Ireland today.
Where Frank Henderson risked his life to win our freedom and independence from an oppressive Empire, our last government - the Fianna Fáil/Green coalition - tamely and shamefully surrendered that freedom and independence to another oppressive new Empire. Our new Fine Gael/Labour coalition government has continued the obeisance of the old, fear paralysing their every thought and act, weasling their way from any and every confrontation with those they see as more powerful, all the while weaving their webs of public deceit, spinning their lies.
Where Niall Henderson sacrificed his own needs and radically curtailed his own lifestyle to provide for his wife and family, the members of this government and of this Oireachtas sacrifice their own people to preserve their own cosseted, comfortable lifestyles. Even as they cut and slash and tax, the new Land Agents implementing the diktats and demands of the new Empire, their own salaries/expenses/pensions/perks remain untouched by that new Empire, their cooperation bought and assured. The legacy they'll leave for future generations? Debt.
Those troublesome Promissory Notes? Why bother to dispute them when we can just take out a sovereign bond - as we did for the 2012 Note in March this year - for our children to pay, and for their children to pay, 40 years of 'war' reparations for a war we never waged. Confront the ECB and the EU on the money already extorted from us - what, us? No, we'll just hide behind Spain and Italy, see what terms they get, then come out from hiding and beg for similar terms - 'Please Sir, we've been good boys and girls'.
And so we are where we are. This coming Monday, Oct 1st, to absolutely no fanfare (ah, our media, our shameful media, the people abandoned), AIB will pay an unsecured unguaranteed bond of €1bn - our €1bn. It will be the 18th billion euro our banks will have paid this year, with still two billion to pay, another €17bn next year, but who's counting anymore?