Guy Lochhead, 30/08/10
Irish revolutionary, republican and diplomat. Casement was instrumental in returning control of the Congo to the Congolese, and away from the King of Belgium, Leopold II, who was exploiting the land and its people for personal gain. He was an anti-slavery activist, and was also a significant figure in abolishing the Peruvian slave trade of the early 20th century. After his retirement as a diplomat, Casement became increasingly interested in the fate of his country. He attempted to form an ‘Irish Brigade’ of Irish prisoners-of-war in Germany, to fight British rule, but was unsuccessful. He arranged for German weapons to be shipped to Ireland for use in such an uprising. They were intercepted. Casement believed he, and Ireland, were being used as pawns in Germany’s war game. He tried to get to Ireland to cancel the uprising, but was arrested in England. He was hanged in 1916, charged with treason, after a comma was added to the Treason Act, in a farce of a trial. Casement is now seen as a martyr and a scapegoat, but I’m not sure how I feel about him. Co-operating with Germany during the First World War, just to secure weapons for an Irish uprising, seems short sighted, though of course the Englsh invasion of Ireland was even more so.. I don’t really know enough, to be honest, but at the moment I don’t want to include him. I would be reluctant to anyway, because of his devout Catholicism.