Probably the most important was the link it established with the 1916 Easter Rising, and in particular with the Proclamation issued at the beginning of the insurrection. The Proclamation served two principal functions. First, it declared Ireland to be a Republic, thereby repudiating the authority of the “English” Crown in Ireland. Second, it stated that that Republic was a “Sovereign Independent State”. That is, it simultaneously announced the separation of Ireland from Great Britain and prescribed the form of government that this independent state should have.
The problem with these statements, and with the Proclamation generally, was that until 21 January 1919 they rested upon no popular mandate and thus had little or no democratic credibility. The six candidates who had been elected on a republican separatist platform in the Irish by-elections of 1917-8 had affirmed their commitment to the memory and principles of Easter week. However, only a national plebiscite could provide authentic validation and be used to repudiate the vote of the Parliament of Ireland, back in 1800, to disestablish itself and agree to union with London. The election result of December 1918, in contrast, did indeed provide just such an indisputable outcome. It was thus a platform for establishing a point of contact with the recent and distant past as a means of seeking political change in the immediate future.