April 4, 2016


Monday morning and I'm back in East Lothian to spend time in the constituency during Easter Recess. On Mondays my regular column appears in The National Newspaper.
Photo: The National

George Kerevan: Our political freedom will learn from the violent lessons of the Easter Rising

Last week a small but fascinating public exhibition opened in the Palace of Westminster, curated by the official Parliamentary Archives. I was interested in seeing the exhibition of letters and memorabilia but did not recognise the advertised location. It took several phone calls to track down its rather obscure whereabouts in the labyrinth that constitutes the Houses of Parliament.

And no wonder. The exhibition covers the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, which led inexorably to Irish independence in 1922. The 26 counties which now form the Republic of Ireland are the only part of the United Kingdom state to have seceded from the Union in living memory – something Westminster prefers to forget.

The Easter Rising exhibition at Westminster says a lot about Britain’s official attitude to the Easter Rising. The Rising is too important an historical event to ignore entirely, but it is still too radioactive politically for the British establishment – even a century on – to examine too deeply. So at Westminster there only is a small glass case with a few iconic papers, secreted away in an obscure nook and cranny of the Palace of Westminster.

Of course, the Irish themselves have found it difficult to come to terms with the violence of the Easter Rising. I’m old enough to remember the 50th anniversary which was a muted affair, as many involved in the events and subsequent War of Independence and Irish Civil War were still around. That year, dissident IRA veterans blew up Nelson’s Pillar in O’Connell Street, one of the few Dublin landmarks not scarred by the Rising. In many ways, that was a tocsin sounding for the Troubles about to open again in the North.



Tuesday I began my Easter surgery roadshow around the smaller communities and villages of East Lothian.  I do monthly surgeries in all the main East Lothian towns but recess provides a chance to meet and discuss with folk in other parts of the constituency. First stop was The Hub, in Humbie. Also a good spot to enjoy a bacon roll.  

Next stops: Bolton village hall, Goblin Ha' in Gifford, Garvald village hall, and Morham village hall. And perfect East Lothian weather. 

A reminder of the wholly inadequte post office services in rural villages like Garvald. I will be taking this up with the Post Office.


On Wednesday, I began the day by visiting my constituent Master Swordmaker Paul MacDonald. Paul let me hold the actual sword of Scottish folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor.  I am campaigning to improve the way East Lothian's history and heritage is presented to the world.

The Easter surgery roadshow continued . Next up was Aberlady, followed by Gullane, Dirleton, and Athelstaneford. Here is a picture of some of the case work team as we arrived at the Golf Inn, Gullane. 
This was a perfect view from Athelstaneford village hall across East Lothian.


Thursday I went to visit East Lothian Special Needs Play Scheme & Star Club and coordinator Kirsty Wood. She even let me try out the bouncy castle. The ELSNP is a youth club supporting young people across East Lothian with a wide range of special needs / disabilities and is a fantastic organisation. Find out more here.
In this week's East Lothian Courier, I wrote about the rise in the tax threshold.


On Friday, I had one of my regular conversations with officials at East Lothian Council. I met with Stu Gibb, Area Manager for Dunbar, East Linton, Haddington and Lammermuir Area Partnerships. Stu gave me an update on work to improve the lamentable digital infrastructure and broadband provision in east Lothian. Fortunately, the Scottish Government is providing major investment in the county to improve coverage radically by 2020. I continue my surgery tour of smaller communities next week. See below for the full schedule. 


On Sunday I joined the congregation of St. Gabriel’s, Prestonpans, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of their Parish Church, in the presence of the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, the Most Reverend Leo Cushley. It was a beautiful service and I was delighted at the opportunity to meet so many of the people who make such a major contribution to the community. St. Gabriel’s Church is a internationally famous as a perfect example of modernist architecture. It was featured in the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The congregation is now seeking to bring the Church Hall up to the same standard, and I am supporting their current application for Tyne Esk Leader funding, which they richly deserve.
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