The second point involves the execution of the leaders of the 1916 Rising - the single most important rebellion in Irish history before the War of Independence and the Troubles. Basically, on Easter Monday, 1916, Irish rebels occupied buildings throughout Dublin and declared the Irish Republic was now a sovereign independent state. They were crushed the very next week by the British Army. The leaders were rounded up and summarily executed for treason. The public outcry was so deafening, it led to the formation of the Irish Republican Army (the IRA) and the War of Independence. As we learn about these events in school, we are likewise led to believe that this was a cruel and unjustified act that showed off the brutal maltreatment we suffered at the hands of an evil empire, and justified the War of Independence that quickly followed. What we AREN'T made to realise is that the rising took place slap bang in the middle of World War One; the Irish rebels were funded and armed by the German Empire. What they did, as citizens of the UK, was nothing short of wartime treason - the penalty for which is death, in ANY country.
Well, I'm not from Ireland or the UK, but it's widely known how inflamed the issues you brought up still are, almost a century after Ireland won independence. I'd say the question of the easter rebels committing treason by making their stand in the middle of an imperial war and, as you see it, aiming to stab Britain in the back, that one is ultimately about the legitimacy
of English rule in Ireland. And I mean legitimacy in the sense of people in Ireland seeing it as rightful, just, something long-term good for Ireland and for themselves as Irish, not simply 'legitimacy' in the sense of some old treaties or rituals declaring that the island was now British or English. Peace treaties and capitulations are obviously imposed
lots of times, what they declare often isn't any matter of free choices by those who signed them.
Most British (meaning people living in England and Scotland
, but not on Ireland) in the 19th and early 20th century looked upon Ireland as a colony, and assumed it would always remain a colony, a subjugated country, a backwater. The Irish language was excluded from the state and from public life (schools, courts, business, etc), the Irish as people were seen as ignorant and half barbarian, still half living in the middle ages and, of course, catholic. I think most historians today, in the UK and beyond, would agree that Ireland and the Irish were being exploited and that London and the English upper classes regarded it as a serf country. And if it's viewed as that kind of very imbalanced relationship, enforced on the Irish by military strength, then rebellion was justifiable.
It's not unique, either, to have a rebellion against an empire in the middle of a major war that's taxing the strength of said empire. In Finland they did exactly the same thing around the same time, only it was much better organized and they were spared most of the fighting against the Russian army when, out of the blue, revolution broke out in St.Petersburg in March 1917 and toppled the Tsar. At that time the war (where Russia was allied with France and Britain against Germany and the Central powers) was going frightfully badly and millions of Russian troops had been killed or taken captive. Conditions in Finland were fairly peaceful on the surface and because of the special status of the country under Russia, Finns were not being called up for service, but the movement for independence had been going on for decades and during the war, there was an underground network of Finnish students and patriots making contact with Germany, leading to a regular traffic of Finns going to Germany for secret military training and arms, explosives and illegal resistance leaflets being smuggled into Finland. The aim of the Germans, of course, was to have a Finnish revolt that would inflict serious damage on Russia, create a friendly nation state on the northern shore of the Baltic and allow for a powerful German offensive right at St.Petersburg, forcing Russia to a humiliating peace and kicking her out of the war. (In the end they got most of those aims, but were unable to make use of these gains during the final year of the war).
The point is, support from Germany was the choice of this underground network of Finnish patriots and politicians. They took the line that "my enemy's enemy is my friend" and anyway they felt more trust and sympathy for Germany than for Russia. They were a relatively small group in numbers - many more than the easter rebels though - and legally it was treason of course. But there was a widespread view in Finland at the time that Russia had become just an oppressor, it wasn't the kind of country people wanted to be a part of, and its policies of putting down expressions of Finnish nationality, culture and institutions had been growing stronger in the early years of the 20th century. Many people wanted out, wanted not to have their country's future linked up with Russia, but when a country is being held down by open military force, conditions are tough and it doesn't look like the overlord is beginning to get pushed down, open resistance is most often something only a few people will get into: it's very dangerous, it has to be carried out in secret and with people that are trusted, and the time for a firm, open offensive hasn't come yet.
In the end, the "hunter bands" of Finland didn't have to start their own street rebellion by making assaults against a powerful Russian army and police. After the tsar had been pushed aside in the late winter of 1917 (something Lenin and the Bolsheviks, by the way, had nothing to do with) Russia stayed in the war but was already hanging on the ropes. Things were growing more and more chaotic, in the capital, on the front and around the empire, so the Finnnish were half left to themselves to begin preparing to make the final breakway from Russia. There was no real capacity from the new governments in Petersburg, or from their cohorts in Helsinki, to make any tough crackdowns on people who were discussing Finnish independence or importing munitions and combat arms and even raiding Russian army posts or putting up nationalist posters. When Lenin (who was also getting support from the Germans!) had to go underground for a while in the summer of 1917, he fled to Finland and for a while he actually stayed with...the chief of a Finnish police volunteer force in Helsinki, who of course didn't tell the Russians that he had a man they wanted in his house.
Once Lenin had taken over in St.Petersburg, Russian domination was not going to be an issue at all, unless old Russia was saved by a miracle and restored. The committee for a free Finland (the government in making, kind of, and representing the lawful parliament of the country) actually sent their emissaries to the capital to tell Petersburg that they were demanding independence in late October - they left Helsinki a day or so before Lenin's coup started in the capital and arrived there a day or two after the showdown at the Winter Palace was over - the run-down times meant that travel was slow at the best of times - and the capital was, again, in a chaos with armoured cars and roaming crowds of people on the streets. They didn't get to see any of the major Bolsheviks in all this chaos - didn't know them, anyway - and quietly returned home, but they were aware that the new guys were not interested in sticking hard to the old borders of Russia. A month later, on December 7, they declared independence without waiting to flesh anything out with the Bolshevik government. They knew there wasn't going to be any major resistance from the Russian military units that were still around in Finland anyway,. When they sent a delegation to St:Petersburg to get their move recognized by the new leaders, a week or two later, the matter fell to a junior party bureaucrat called Josef Stalin and he signed the papers without any serious trouble.
So, had the help from the Germans paid off? Definitely. There hadn't been a lot of open fighting between the Finnish and the weakened Russian armed forces - there were some clashes and acts of sabotage, and I think some Russian officials were "convinced" to give in with the help of a small band of armed men. But the weapons and training provided for free by Berlin had anyway given a sense of being able to take charge if it would be needed in a tight situation, and what's more, they had provided the nucleus of a new Finnish army and police force (soon to be joined by some high-ranking officers who had been actrve in the Russian army).
See, all of this was plainly illegal by the laws and constitutions that were in effect in 1914-16, and for many years before; and the people who were involved were not chosen through any kind of legal election or even from nationally widepread parties. Except for the parliament of Finland - that body had existed already under the Russian era, and the persons sitting there had been voted in by elections a few years before, but they were not the ones who really triggered the move for independence, though they went with it when the revolution had broken out. The military volunteers in 1914-1917 grabbed the opportunity when it began to come into view, and deliberately aimed to widen the option. But the ambition to give Finland some kind of safer, and more self-governing, future was widely supported all around the country, even by Finnish officers serving in the Russian army. Most Finnish people, then and now, would have said (as for then, if they could have spoken about it openly without any fear of reprisals) that the drive for a nation of their own was fully legitimate and that they already had a history as a nation, even if there had never been a free Finnnish state before.