Chapter 21. – WHAT THE TREATY MEANS A SYMPOSIUM
WHAT THE TREATY MEANS A SYMPOSIUM
IN an endeavour to ascertain the considered opinions of representative Irish men and women Treaty proponents and Treaty opponents equally as to Ireland’s chance of freedom under existing circumstances, I propounded to Irish leaders of outstanding importance the following question :
” Under the terms of the Treaty, what does the future hold in store for Ireland ? ”
In due course I received the following written answers :
FROM SEAN MCKEON[Major-General McKeon, T.D., immortalised as ” the Blacksmith of Ballinalee,” fought more successful battles against the Black and Tans than any other leader of the I.R.A., and, since the murder of Michael Collins, is today the most popular hero in Ireland.]
” Although I am on record as an advocate of accepting the Treaty, I want it thoroughly understood that, like every other member of my party, I am an Irish Republican. Anything less than full independence will never completely satisfy any Irishman. But with this much said, I am willing to discuss Ireland’s future under the Treaty.
” There are possibilities under the terms of the Treaty of tremendous advantage to Ireland. It gives us far more than many of us ever dared hope could be won in our lifetime. It gives us far more than we ever could have won by force of arms alone so long as our strength remained relatively negligible as compared with England’s armed power. It does not give us all we want ; all we are determined one day to have, all that is ours by right. But it does give us a far better chance than Ireland has ever known before to achieve our ultimate ideal.
” Not unnaturally, I am inclined to view the purely political phase of the present situation through the eyes of a soldier. Soldiering is my profession. Politics is not. Conferences appeal to me not at all. Explorations of avenues that may lead to agreement seem to me waste of time when the explorers, metaphorically speaking, are more intent on conducting the expedition into a morass than to success.
” A general in the field realises that a war is not won in a single battle. Only a counsel of desperation risks disaster in one final offensive. Day by day minor gains are consolidated, minor losses accepted. The final goal decisive victory is none the less ever uppermost in mind. But the high command recognise it can be won only by patient acceptance of gains or reverses as mere incidents in the general scheme.
” The most strenuous of the opponents of the Treaty base their arguments on the assumption that all Ireland has to do is flout England and thus gain complete independence on the spot. They forget that Ireland’s Declaration of Independence was published to the world in 1916 and now, after six years, has yet to be recognised by any government in the world. They forget that for most of this period British armed forces were in practical control of all Ireland. Repudiation of the Treaty by Dail Eireann now accompanied by a reaffirmation of the Republic would surely result in a return to the conditions under which Ireland lived during the Reign of Terror. Those of us whose duty it is to protect our people will not shirk that duty if it is imposed upon us but it must be the people who impose it upon us if that be their will. And I for one do not believe it is.
” The future of Ireland under the Treaty is a brighter future than any living or dead Irishman ever knew ; the future of Ireland if the Treaty be turned down is hopeless. Hopeless, at least, in so far as existing generations are concerned. For who doubts that England, given what the world would consider ample justification, would once again, and more eagerly than ever, send her armed forces back amongst us this time to make our subjugation more complete than ever ?
(Signed) ” SEAN McKEON.”
FROM CATHAL BRUGHA[Mr. Brugha, T.D., formerly Minister of Defence under De Valera’s Presidency of Dail Eireann, killed during the July rebellion, was an uncompromising Republican whose public utterances proved him an ardent advocate of the use of force.]
” During the Dail debate on the Articles of Agreement President de Valera said he was against the pact because, amongst other reasons, he believed it would not bring peace. That same view was expressed by other deputies. The correctness of their judgement is being brought home to us every day.
” The most ominous proof of it was the I.R.A. Convention held Sunday, March 26. That Convention represented over 80 per cent, of the Republican army. One division alone, which stands solidly behind the Republic, has 38,000 men on its roll. The Convention elected an executive to control the army in future. These men had all taken an oath of allegiance to the Republic and to Dail Eireann as the Government of the Republic. Even when the majority of An Dail had approved of the alleged Treaty the army held fast.
” When the new Government formed by the Treaty party was elected, the President gave an undertaking that the Republic would be maintained until the electorate got an opportunity of expressing its opinion on the Treaty. The new Minister for Defence promised the Dail that the army would continue as the army of the Republic until the people had spoken. Both those undertakings were basely broken. The Provisional Government was set up and allowed to supplant An Dail. Its chairman and two of his alleged ministers publicly repudiated the supremacy of An Dail at one of its sittings. They denied that they were in any way responsible to it. They did this in the presence of President Griffith without any remonstrance from him.
” In regard to the promise given by the new Minister for Defence, instead of adhering to it, he allowed the army to be made use of to build up an army for this usurping Provisional Government. The net result of this double-dealing was the calling together of the I.R.A. Convention and the election of an independent executive.
” The army is determined to maintain the existing Republic. Whoever else may have been play-acting when they took the oath of allegiance to the Republic, it is quite evident that those men were not. Upon them principally has been the burden of guarding the Republic against its enemies during the time of stress. How well they played their part the world already knows. The world may hear from them again when people who did nothing to establish the Republic or to maintain it attempt to give it away.
“It is almost incredible that any responsible person who has been in touch with things should be so misled as to believe that those men could be seduced from their allegiance so simply.
” What we are now asked to do is to surrender the sovereignty of the Irish people, to yield at last to our oppressors and admit ourselves their subjects. Why, the weakest day Ireland ever saw she never did that. There was always a body of opinion in Ireland that denied England’s right to interfere in Irish affairs. They were with us in every generation. Whenever they considered themselves strong enough they went out in arms against the usurper. Though beaten in the field they never bent the knee. That tradition has been carried on, and no amount of dragooning could break it. The prison-cell, the hangman’s rope and the firing-squad all have failed.
” So tenacious is the fibre of which Irishmen are made that the greater the persecution, the stronger became the spirit of resistance. It is conceivable, though unlikely, that the threat of war might stampede the Irish people into voting in favour of the Treaty without realising what it involves. It is possible that the anti-Republicans, aided by the pro-British Press, could so confuse the issue that a majority of the present out-of-date register might accept the Free State.
” The signatories to the Treaty do not agree on what it means. One of them says it gives us freedom. Another says it gives us freedom to achieve freedom. We know it gives us neither. Between us all it would be no wonder if the electorate were befogged. But even if guile succeeded, sooner or later the struggle would begin again when the people found out that they were deceived. It is almost certain that this would occur in our own time.
” We are better organised now militarily than ever we were in modern times. We are also better armed. Above all, the traditional hope of finally expelling the invader that has always lived in the hearts of the Irish race is now stronger and more widespread than ever. That yearning for complete nationhood has now become an overmastering desire. People hitherto apathetic had become infused with this enthusiasm before the Treaty was signed. The past four years have not gone for nothing. Though we did not actually drive out the tyrant, we made him impotent. Those who have tasted the delicious wine of freedom will not be put off with a draught of inferior quality. The Free Stater who thinks otherwise is living in a fool’s paradise.
(Signed} ” CATHAL BRUGHA.”
FROM PROF. EOIN MACNEILL[Professor MacNeill, T.D., formerly speaker of Dail Eireann and one of its most erudite members, was President and Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Volunteers at the time of the Easter Week rising in 1916 ; for his Sinn Fein activities he was sentenced to penal servitude for life.]
” The Anglo-Irish Treaty of December, 1921, is an agreement between two nation-states, Ireland and Britain, to enter into a free partnership. This partnership includes also Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
For the present, the consent of the non-signatory states is presumed, but the presumption does not imply an admission that the British Government can bind any of these states without their express consent, and an express agreement between Ireland and the non-signatory states will doubtless follow in due course.
” The Treaty does not regulate the internal political status of Ireland. It regulates by agreement the form of the partnership between the nation-state Ireland and the other nation-states. The essence of the Treaty is that it guarantees no less freedom and sovereignty to Ireland within her natural territorial bounds than the freedom and sovereignty not as recorded in any British statute, but as actually enjoyed and exercised belonging to the other states, Canada being named as an example. This, of course, means the full freedom and sovereignty exercised by any of the states, since it is certain that Canada would not admit restrictions not imposed on a partner state.
” Any claim of British suzerainty now or hereafter set up as against Ireland would imply a similar claim as against Canada. Britain, on the other hand, claims certain facilities for defence as necessary to her safety, and Ireland, without adopting the reasons on which this claim is based, concedes certain facilities. Ireland, of course, remains entitled to guard against any use of these facilities to her detriment or danger.
” Under the Treaty, then, Ireland can and will insist on holding as partner the maximum status as it exists in practice, not in British law, of the other states. Her status must be maximum from the outset because, as Mr. Winston Churchill has acknowledged, she comes into the partnership not as a colonial offshoot but as ‘ a mother country.’ It is necessary to be clear on this, for the British Press in general indulges in the notion that Britain is endowing Ireland with powers, and the attitude of the British Ministry since the signing of the Treaty can be interpreted in some respects as being afflicted with the same notion.
” So far as Ireland is concerned, the Treaty requires no statute or resolution of the British legislature to give it effect, nor can any statute or resolution of that legislature invalidate or modify the Treaty. Britain can break the agreement ; she cannot change it, except as she made it, that is, jointly with Ireland. The only force of British legislation in regard to the Treaty is to legalise it from the purely British standpoint not to legalise it for Ireland.
” It will soon be seen that the existence of future good relations between Britain and Ireland will have for its essential condition the absolute cessation of all manner of interference by the British Government or by British political agencies hi the domestic affairs of Ireland. Ireland will not seek to interfere in British affairs. There is, however, a certain aristocratic and semi aristocratic element which has family connections and property connections in both countries and plenty of leisure to be meddlesome, and this element constitutes a danger to be watched.
” Above all, there is the situation which the British Government and British political agencies have deliberately created in Ulster. There, simultaneously with the Black and Tan war against Ireland generally, a campaign of sectarian violence was let loose two years ago. In the same year a British statute divided Ireland into two separate administrative, legislative and judicial areas. There was no Irish demand, in or out of Ulster, for this division. It was a purely British governmental device directed against the peace and progress of Ireland. This policy cannot be maintained without violating the essence of the Treaty ; yet certain British ministers seem to think that we do not understand it.
” Having barely mentioned certain points which as yet do not appear to have penetrated the public intelligence of our neighbours many of whom still think they own us by divine right let me say that I am confident that we, on our part, if we act with a single purpose for the good of Ireland, can surmount every surviving difficulty and make Ireland as free as any other nation. We are young, vigourous, resourceful, and, in spite of all the past, we are one of the few nations of Europe that are solvent. The Black and Tan war and its Ulster accompaniment have raised the temperature and produced some fever, but we are organically sound and, as a people, we mean to have a reign of justice.
(Signed) ” EOIN MACNEILL.”
FROM SEAN MACENTEE[Mr. MacEntee is a native of Belfast and, until his defeat in the summer elections, one of the younger members of Dail Eireann, most active in support of De Valera.]
” Two things stand out in the Treaty : first, that Ire- land, under threat of war, is compelled to forego her right to independence ; of our natural right, the latter a violation of our territory.
” Liberty is ‘ the inalienable right ‘ of the Irish as of all other peoples, and Ireland’s territorial integrity is as truly essential to Ireland’s national existence as was the preservation of the Federal Union to America under Lincoln. America waged wars to secure her liberties and to preserve that Union ; Ireland in the same just cause will fight to the end. Under the Treaty, therefore, Ireland can never be at peace, but must be at war.
” The Treaty will not bring peace to Ireland’; neither will it bring prosperity. Ireland cannot be prosperous while Ireland is not free, for all that is best in the country of intellect and of character will address itself to the struggle for liberty. All that is material will be sacrificed to that great spiritual passion the phenomenon of ages will be repeated Irish youth growing to manhood will have but one thought, not to become rich, but to become free. All its energy, all its courage, all its capacity will be devoted to that ideal. And with all this we shall have the same political instability, the same civil turmoil ; these are everywhere the invariable concomitants of injustice and oppression, and these are essentially destructive of material prosperity.
” Based upon partition, the Treaty will perpetuate disunion. Its real object is to establish and consolidate in North-Eastern Ireland an English settlement which England plans shall be the inveterate and relentless enemy of the Irish nation. England feels herself assured of the loyalty of that settlement as she is assured of the loyalty, say, of Scotland. There is no power, no authority she may concede to the Irish Free State that she will not give more unreservedly and more freely to Northern Ireland. By such a policy she hopes to make the breach which she has forced between North and South wider and deeper. She knows Northern Ireland as established under the Treaty will strive to become wholly English, while Southern Ireland strives to become wholly Irish. So that in a little time she calculates there will be in Ireland two peoples speaking different languages, holding different religions, following different political ideals.
” By her North-Eastern settlement and not by an oath of allegiance England hopes to hold Ireland for the British Empire. Northern Ireland, as established by the Treaty, is to be her new Gibraltar, a Gibraltar which, if the Treaty were to stand, would reduce Ireland for ever to political impotency and paralysis.
” The Treaty, in short, makes Ireland neither a free country nor a British Dominion, but a sort of hybrid among states, a mule among nations impotent and abject, condemned to servitude and decay. It will not stand, however ; for those who made Ireland great, the men who fought and the women who suffered, stand against it. They still stand true to the Irish Republic. The authority, legitimacy and territorial integrity of that Republic will yet be vindicated by this living generation, so that its flag, floating over every inch of Irish soil, shall secure the loyalty and homage of all who claim Ireland for their home. But when this is done, it shall be done, not by means of, but in spite of, the Treaty.
(Signed) ” SEAN MACENTEE.”
FROM ERNEST BLYTHE[Mr. Blythe, T.D., is Minister of Economics in Dail Eireann and one of its most brilliant members, who has always been a great admirer of Griffith’s Sinn Fein policy although an Ulster man and a Protestant.]
” I believe the people who think that national effort in future is likely to concentrate itself along the lines of Republican agitation and revolutionary action are entirely mistaken. The Treaty gives, for the present, ample scope for national growth and reconstruction. The mind of the country will be given chiefly to economic and cultural development.
” The left wing in the year after next will not be constituted of the Republican doctrinaires, but of the advanced workers for a revival of the Irish language and of the advocates of tariff and banking reform. In the new situation it will be recognised that the nation’s ‘ soul ‘ is to be saved no longer by the maintenance of a political effervescence, but by preserving and spreading the use of the historic languages of the Gael. When Irish has again been made common speech throughout the country, all thought will be given a distinctively Irish tinge and objective ; Irish brains shall, at last, pay a toll of service to Ireland instead of going entirely to build up the culture and literature of other countries.
” On the material side we shall have attention turned not to the expulsion of British maintenance parties from the few coastal posts they will hold, but to the development of industries, to the utilisation of our peat and mineral deposits and waterpower, and to the opening up of direct trade relations with the many countries with which our lines of communication at present run through Liverpool or London. There are abundant proofs that the fostering care of a national government will be able to transform the economic condition of Ireland. The country is at present very backward industrially. To bring it to the point at which it ought to be will be a big task. When the back of that task has been broken, when the future of the Irish language has been unmistakably assured, then only will doctrinaire Republicanism really come to the forefront again.
(Signed) “ERNEST BLYTHE.”
FROM COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ[Constance Georgina Markievicz, T.D., was sentenced to death by court-martial for having commanded the insurgents in the Royal College of Surgeons during the Easter Week rising in Dublin, but was later released in the general amnesty. Her hatred of England is the one dominating passion of her life.]
” Your question demands a prophecy, and at most times there is a risk in hazarding an opinion as to future events ; but in this case I do not hesitate to stake any reputation that I may have by giving as my honest and thought out opinion that under the Treaty the future holds little but trouble for Ireland.
” A friendship or agreement between two persons, parties or nations must be based on a mutual understanding.
The oath which it includes is translated as meaning one thing by Mr. Griffith, Mr. Collins and their followers when explaining it to the Irish people, while the meaning given to it by Mr. Lloyd George and his followers is the direct contradiction.
” Mr. Griffith said, speaking openly before the assembly of Dail Eireann :
‘ It is an oath, I say, that any Irishman could take with honour, as he pledges his allegiance to the Free State and faithfulness, after, to the head of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
” Mr. Collins said : ‘ . . . And we have obtained . . . a compromise on allegiance not ideal, but which enables us to pledge our true faith and allegiance only to our own Saorstat, and declares fidelity to the Crown merely in its capacity as the link between the two nations.’
” Their followers are now declaring quite openly that this oath binds them to do nothing more than to try the Free State, and make use of it to obtain the Republic ; and that they would be willing to take a fresh oath for every gun they could procure by so doing and much more on the same lines.
” So much for the pro-Treatyites. Now turn to their English friends speaking in defence of the Treaty in the English House of Commons. The most definite statement among many of the same kind was made by Sir Worthington Evans, December 15, 1921 : ” ‘ … Part of the terms of the settlement will be that the members who go to serve in that Free State Parliament will have to swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution as passed by the House of Commons. How is it possible to say that within the terms of that oath they set up a Republic and still maintain their oath ? ‘
” He further stated : ‘ . . . Anson’s description of the Oath of Allegiance is that it was a declaration of fidelity to the Throne, so that in this oath we have got this : we have got an oath of allegiance in the declaration of fidelity : “I will be faithful to His Majesty King George V., and his heirs and successors by law ” and we have got something in addition, a declaration of fidelity to the Constitution of the Irish Free State, and in further addition we have the declaration of fidelity to the Empire itself.’
” Whether our envoys were themselves tricked or whether they agreed to trick the Irish people is the obvious question that Irish people are asking Coady. Whichever way the question is answered, it will not help these men to keep the confidence of the Irish people, and unless they have the confidence and the support of the people they will be powerless to govern efficiently. Nor can this Treaty based on misunderstanding bring anything but dissension between the two nations.
” Then there is the question of the Northern Pale deliberately set up by the British Cabinet in anticipation of the South becoming unanimously separatist. The situation there becomes daily worse. Mr. Collins called off the Belfast boycott. If he did so to propitiate Sir James Craig it would appear from the Press that he failed. Then, too, Mr. Lloyd George seems to interpret this Treaty so as to secure power to himself to postpone the Boundary Commission. This gives the Irish people much cause for thought and reason for suspicion, both of the sincerity of Mr. Lloyd George and of the capacity of Mr. Collins and his advisers.
” Next comes the question of the formation of the Constitution. Mr. Griffith and Mr. Collins believe that looseness of the Treaty can be made use of by them. Mr. Collins makes the amazing announcement that ‘ we make our own decision, and it is we who decide how we are to deal with Mr. Lloyd George.’ Mr. Griffith even went so far as to pledge himself openly to the Southern Unionists to give them their ‘ full share of representation in the First Chamber of the Irish Parliament, and as to the Upper Chamber, we will consult them on its constitution, and undertake that then interests will be duly represented.’
” Labour has already expressed itself on this pronouncement of Mr. Griffith’s, and labour is a power in Ireland Coady. The people, too, are suspicious.
” These are only a few of the points that the people of Ireland are pondering over today, and these are the questions that are daily being asked with more and more insistence :
” Have the signatories been fooled again in the old way and by the old enemy, and will the result of all these negotiations be
” 1. The establishment of a new English Pale on the old lines, and
“2. The division of the rest of Ireland into two parties also on the old lines which hi the past gave us the ‘Queens,’ O’Neills, O’Reillys, etc., i.e., those who were guarding the English interests in Ireland and who derived their power from the English King and the forces behind him and the Irish rebels who derived their powers from the will and love of the Irish people.
” These rebels will be there and stand for an independent Ireland till that day when nationality has ceased to be an inspiration ; when language is dead and our history forgotten ; when Irish idealism has been lost in British materialism, and we a smug British province.
” That day will never come. Therefore I see naught but trouble in front of us till our national aspirations are achieved by the establishment and recognition of the Irish Republic.
(Signed] ” CONSTANCE MARKIEVICZ.”
FROM WILLIAM ROACHE[Liam de Roiste, T.D., successor in Dail Eireann of William O’Brien for Cork City, has worked for years for the revival of Irish industries ; it was he who induced Henry Ford to establish a factory in Cork, and put through a scheme whereby the Moore MacCormack Steamship Company’s liners ply direct between Cork and New York.]
” Unless divinely inspired, prophecy is untrustworthy. No one can say dogmatically what the future holds in store for Ireland or for any other country. One can only express an opinion as to what it should hold, granted certain premises.
” Ireland, owing to the blighting influence of foreign rule, is a nation of arrested development, intellectually, nationally, socially, politically, economically. Now that the Irish people have secured power in their own hands what should be expected is almost immediate development in the spheres of activity indicated. For such development, however, order and at least comparative peace are essential.
” Intellectually the Irish nation can develop to perfection only on the basis of its ancient civilisation and culture which are enshrined, as it were, in the native language. Already, owing to the freedom secured under the Treaty and the taking over of the educational systems of the country by the Irish authorities, a gigantic fillip has been given to the study of the Irish language and its literature. Granted orderly development, so far as one can see, this intellectual progress, drawing inspiration from purely native ideals, is likely to be maintained. The world will, therefore, be presented with the spectacle of an ancient civilisation reanimated a civilisation that has much in it from which the world may learn.
” The sense of national distinctiveness is very strong indeed in Ireland. It was fostered rather than checked by the repressive laws of the English. National feeling is often intolerant. That intolerance is based upon ignorance or is due to conditions where the national feeling must continually show itself in protest. With a development of education in Ireland and freedom from restrictions of all national feelings it may be anticipated that the expression of the national distinctiveness of the Irish nation will be in the sphere of culture rather than in the sphere of politics.
” Socially and politically it may be expected that the development in Ireland will be towards democratic control of all activities, that there will be few, if any, privileged classes, that there will be a more just distribution of wealth and power than is found in other countries, and that there will ultimately be great individual liberty.
” While not sternly Republican in the doctrinaire sense of a form of government, the Irish people of the present day are essentially a democratic people. So far as one can judge, there is no special regard for men of wealth as such, and none for men of title. There is regard for worth and for service to the community. The traditional struggle for Ireland has been simply to get power into the hands of the people of the country and out of the hands of select coteries and classes set up by the British. The political form in which that power may express itself has varied during the centuries in the minds of the people, and even now no one political form commands universal assent ; except that the form conceived of must be democratic, one through which the will of the people can best express itself.
” The whole economic structure of Ireland needs re- moulding, and under the Treaty terms this remoulding is at last possible. Ireland having full fiscal and economic freedom is at liberty to rebuild its industries, trade and commerce, to adjust agrarian grievances, to plant the people on the soil and to solve the problem of emigration. The outstanding economic factor in Ireland for the past 76 years has been the abnormal emigration of the young people of the country. No remedy has been possible during this period. The problem can now be solved in a manner that should ensure the increase of a healthy, industrious and virile people.
” As I view the position, the Treaty arrangement is a step, a big step, in the onward progress of the Irish nation. The Land Acts were steps ; technical, agricultural and university education were steps ; the establishment of local government was a step ; the extension of the franchise was a step all tending to greater and greater strength, to more and more liberty. The Irish language movement and the cultural Sinn Fein movement marked these steps, and the rising-out of 1916 roused the spirit of the people for the assertion of sovereign independence. With the increase of intellectual and material strength which is possible under the Treaty terms the progress of the Irish nation to fuller freedom and fuller development should be rapid.
” Unfortunately, however, the prospect is marred by the spectre of fratricidal strife. If fratricidal strife should eventuate, there is no prospect but defeat and disaster for the Irish nation in this generation.
(Signed) ” LIAM DE ROISTE.”
FROM PROF. W. F. P. STOCKLEY[Professor Stockley, T.D., is one of the pacifist members of the Dail who, nevertheless, espouses the Republican cause.]
” Nothing is settled until it is settled right. The right settling of this world is not possible. But some right settling is.
” The English Daily Mail, publishing whole-sheet pictures of the Kaiser as our ally-to-be in the Boer War, declared that that holy war was ‘ a war to end war and make the world safe for decent men.’ A later war was camouflaged by like aspirations. Countries, small and great, were now to live their own lives, resolve their own difficulties. The resulting peace without principle has plentifully praised past domestic resolving of majority-minority strifes, as in the infant United States. But it has not been the instrument of a yet smaller minority being left in Ireland to understand itself and the world, and to calm down in that island geographically and historically one and indivisible. Any single passing from principles possible of application makes this a cry of peace where there is no peace and no right settling.
” The late Pope Benedict had principles for a peacemaking. Ex-President Wilson embodied such in his abandoned claims. And the rising of heart, the will to act on the part of millions in their response to such higher practicality was proof of some possible doing. Indeed, never was there a better chance of peace between England and Ireland than when could have been applied between them this golden rule of do as done by. There never was a surer opportunity of getting rid of irritation by minding one’s own business, not to say of mutual goodwill, or even, as far as propriety and decency demanded, of forgive and forget.
” ‘ The right and the wise thing for England to do is to consent freely to the establishment of an Irish Republic unconditionally. I make that proposal because I want to see a true and final settlement of the differences between my country and England.’ (Prof. Eoin MacNeill, English Review, Sept., 1917.)
” But England, powerful by arms, not less powerful by ruling when not pretending to rule as over rajahs, maharajahs, and khedives would not change. The whole world was filled with portraits of her as willing to let Ireland manage things Irish if only the Irish people would agree among themselves. Such was the portrait published in Washington’s day also, of fond Mother England clasping to her breast her fractious colonial child to whom no soothing thing good for it was refused.
” What has England done but refuse reality, keep up suspicions, and make the future unsure ? In victims the hostile mind continues. Therefore out of world unreality and out of unreality towards Ireland there will come no lasting peace. From pretence will come resentment and also corruption, and all that makes for a revolt of the gallant and the wise
” Further, the circumstances of the signing of this so-called Treaty are circumstances shameful in unreality. As to Washington and Franklin and Adams, so to the Irish envoy devastation of the resisting weak country was threatened immediate and terrible war. A Treaty ! And a Treaty freely made ! And between equal nations ! Can wilder falsehoods further go ? Does any man, respecting common sense, think that on such pretence will be based a rock-built refuge for a nation, for two nations
” (And now truly the English in the transaction, and most of the Irish in it, give up their pretences that they feared war or that war was intended. That was only a plea for a panic, as Washington dubbed the like a working on nerves dreading responsibility for re-exposing Ireland to assassins rather than warriors. John Bull, in its issue of November 26, 1921, says, ‘ We do not want a war in Ireland, and we could not afford one if we did. . . . Better blot such a possibility out of the account. If Sinn Feiners will not come to terms they should be released from the Empire and left to find their own salvation.’)
” Lastly, the unreality by this Treaty’s own terms of pretending that Ireland is a Free State ! Equal with England ! England, therefore, ‘ free ‘ when France has cut off Yorkshire and Lincoln, garrisoned them, and paid those English counties to serve France ; when France is guaranteed rights to cover whole England with all machinery of war, if France’s relations are anywhere ‘ strained ‘ ; when France holds in perpetuity the English ports of Hull, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Bristol ! What need further ? Is that a free England an England having to swear, besides, fealty to France ? Would the calling such an England ‘ free’ settle anything even if that English dog, with collar and chains, were fed fat with scraps from his French master’s table ? Who could have faith in a treaty calling unfree England free ? Who could have faith in the future of a treaty that shuts men’s eyes from the real Ireland, that Ireland that is and that will be, that is sure to be troubled, and sure in some measure to trouble both America and the world until the reality of her national life is acknowledged and she contribute even in her comparative weakness to a more settled world, because, in this one matter, a world settled right.
(Signed) ” W. F. P. STOCKLEY.”
FROM WILLIAM SEARS[Mr. Sears, T.D., member of Dail Eireann for Sligo, is the most influential provincial newspaper proprietor in Ireland.
” Seldom in history has a nation had such an opportunity as the Treaty gives to Ireland. It is, of course, not a new thing that a nation has suddenly burst its bonds and regained complete control of its affairs. But few people possess a land of such real and potential wealth as ours or occupy such a magnificent geographical position to make the most of that wealth.
” Imagine what possibilities there are for our existing industries, long discouraged and obstructed, when they can now count upon that driving force and fostering care that a native government can supply. Irish genius, that in the past was not permitted to direct Irish effort, can now bend itself unfettered to the task. And under the Treaty we have won the necessary fiscal freedom to make the most of our chance.
” Regarding foreign goods, we can open or close our ports to them just as we wish. The untapped resources of Ireland, long sealed up by the stranger, are in themselves a vast field for Irish enterprise and energy, even if our population were three times what it is at present.
” Then our country, fresh and vigourous, enters upon the international stage at a time when the rest of Europe bends under crushing debts and is disorganised and discouraged to the point of despair. In our people, although they have come through a terrible time, the industrial spirit and courage is equal to that of the youngest nation on the globe. It faces the future not merely with confidence, but with eagerness.
” There may be drawbacks to the Treaty from the idealist point of view ; there are none from the material. The obstacles to complete freedom that still remain can daunt only the faint-hearted The nation that frustrated the greatest military power in Europe, and won its way to the present position, cannot humanly be prevented from reaching the final stage save by some act of criminal folly on its own part.
” But perhaps it is not in the material field the Ireland of the future will make its greatest mark. The kindly neighbourliness of the Irish character, as is evidenced in the success of the co-operative movement, offered a better field for social reform than is elsewhere found. When the harsh reactions from the war have passed away, Ireland should furnish interesting headlines in social evolution, perhaps new departures the world may find of value. And from even higher fields she may garner a worthy crop, for the nation that has come through the fires of centuries of persecution must be handicapped with a little less of the world’s dross than others.
” The purging, surely, was not all in vain, and perhaps that spiritual bent in the race that in the past earned for our island a glorious title may manifest itself again and add lustre once more to the ‘ Isle of Destiny.’ We are encouraged to hope for the best when we recollect that the language that foreign tyranny set aside is now to be taken, as it were, from cold storage and to furnish to the nation a fresh and unfailing source of mental and spiritual energy and inspiration.
(Signed) ” WILLIAM SEARS.”
FROM H. J. BOLAND[Mr. Boland, who died as the result of wounds received while resisting arrest by Free State troops, spent almost all of the time, from 1916 to the signing of the Treaty, in the United States, where he was the official representative of the Irish Republic, engaged in raising funds.]
” The future of Ireland under the Treaty is a very difficult subject to discuss. I prefer to deal with the immediate present. Ireland under the Treaty is now rent asunder and I cannot see any grounds for hope unless the Treatyites explicitly assert in the constitution of the Free State :
“1. That the nation is one and indivisible.
“2. That all authority in Ireland is derived from the people of Ireland, and
“3. That the oath of allegiance and the Governor General must be omitted from the Treaty.
” A constitution which will not debar those who would have Ireland free from giving constitutional expression in an Irish Parliament to the Republican ideal would, I think, be acceptable to the Republicans. But it must be understood that England forced the plenipotentiaries to sign under the threat of ‘ immediate and terrible war.’ Of all England’s abominable crimes against Ireland this latest is, to my mind, the most revolting.
” There are two shades of political thought represented in those who favour the Articles of Agreement signed in London. One, led by Mr. Arthur Griffith, asserts that the agreement gives Ireland essential liberty and is quite prepared to accept the arrangement in complete satisfaction of Ireland’s claims or, in the words of Mr. Griffith, to ‘ march into the British Empire with our heads up ‘ and settle down, a contented Dominion of the Empire, with the hope that some day the ultra-Imperialists of the Six Counties called Ulster will come into the Imperial Free State.
“It is to be regretted that Mr. Griffith has taken this course, a course which is the very negation of all that for which he has given’ his life’s work. Mr. Griffith, by his teachings of the past thirty years, is responsible to a great extent for the intense revival of Irish nationalism which found its expression in the Republic.
” The other group, led by Mr. Michael Collins, claims that the Treaty gives Ireland ‘ freedom to achieve freedom.’ Get the British out of Ireland, build up the country, and in ten or twenty years Ireland will be in a better position to fight England and so establish the Republic.’ This plea has secured many adherents to the Treaty men who heretofore were considered implacable in their desire for the complete independence of Ireland. Indeed, were it not for the fact that Mr. Collins signed them, the Articles of Agreement would have received very short shrift in Dail Eireann.
” The Republican point of view expressed by De Valera and supported by the young men of the Irish Republican Army and by all those who would have Ireland as free as America, or as England, is a simple one, based on the fundamental right of the Irish nation to the undictated control of its own affairs, owing allegiance to no power on earth save the sovereign people of Ireland, prepared to stand on the fundamental rock of right, refusing to give a democratic title to the British King in Ireland, refusing to march into the Empire with heads up, as Mr. Griffith invites, or to march in with hands up for ten years or more, as Mr. Collins would have it. Of the two policies that of the ‘ heads up ‘ is the more honourable.
” Republicans argue that once the Irish nation sanctions this Treaty and ratifies it in the ballot-box, the honour of the nation is committed, and by so doing Ireland wills her own national death. The sanctity of treaties is invoked against Mr. Collins’ arguments. It is pointed out that entering the Empire gives the lie to all that for which countless generations of Irishmen have contended. All the dead generations are fighting on the side of those who would maintain the independence of Ireland. and I am satisfied that this point of view will win in the coming election.
” Now that the army of the Republic has cut itself off from those who would accept the agreement, the future of Ireland under the Treaty is very doubtful. It remains to be seen whether Messrs. Collins and Griffith will persevere in their efforts to force the Free State against the Irish Republican Army opposition. If they so persist, then I look for serious trouble in Ireland. If, on the other hand, they tell the British that they cannot ‘ deliver the goods. I feel sure that a just peace can be negotiated between England and Ireland. Of one thing I am certain : this so-called Treaty will not bring peace to Ireland or to England, for Ireland unfree will never be at peace. The manhood of Ireland is in revolt against this agreement, signed, as it was, with a pistol at the heads of the delegates. In the words of Franklin, ‘ Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a life safety deserve neither safety nor liberty ‘ and history proves that Ireland will never submit to the status of a dismembered Dominion of an Empire with which she has been at war for centuries.
(Signed) ” HARRY BOLAND.”
FROM DAN McCarthy[Mr. McCarthy, T.D., is the whip of the Treaty party, and generally recognised in Irish political circles as the most efficient organiser in the country.]
” The Ireland of the future under the terms of the Treaty will be an Ireland governed by Irishmen for the common good of Irishmen. In this way we can develop our own civilisation without being subjected to, and hampered by, the interference of the foreign invader.
” Dublin Castle the symbol of English authority in this country for seven hundred years is in Irish hands for the first time in history. Irishmen the world over know what Dublin Castle stood for. From its inception it was meant for a government of corruption’s, and all the time its rulers aimed at the extermination of the Irish people.
” For centuries it has been the ideal and aim of Irishmen to loosen the chains by which Dublin Castle bound the people of Ireland, and this at last is achieved under the Treaty.
” By the Treaty we can develop Ireland in an Irish way. No longer fettered by English imperialistic aims, we can make our land fit for Irishmen to live in. England saw to it that education in Ireland was totally unsuitable to the people. We can change all that ; we can restore the Irish language to be the language of our people ; we can develop our agricultural districts ; we can open up our mines, and find employment for our people, so that no longer will it be necessary for the sons and daughters of Erin to leave their native shores to earn a living in the land of the foreigner.
” Under English rule we have been subjected to overtaxation which crippled and ruined our industries ; our shipping all disappeared and Ireland became the slave of her English master. The Treaty gives us power to levy our own taxation without outside interference.
” The future holds bright things for the Irish people. With an Irish Government replacing the rule of the foreigner by the rule of the plain people of Ireland, I can see in the near future a prosperous and well-contented country. Our work now is to build up the nation, and the vast majority of Irishmen are taking up that work with a pride and a zest unequalled.
I ” The Treaty gives us the means of attaining our complete freedom. Irish soldiers are replacing the Britisher in our streets and in the barracks throughout the country. The army of the Free State will be used to defend Ireland’s rights ; they will see that nothing that she has gained is taken from her. The soldiers which the Irish people will see in Ireland will be green-clad boys of Ireland the token of her freedom not the khaki-clad soldiers of Britain, the symbol of Ireland’s subjection.
” Under the Free State the Irish people will work out their own salvation and their destiny as glorious as the people of America worked out their fate under the Federal Constitution.
(Signed) ” DAN McCarthy.”
FROM JOSEPH MACDONAGH[Mr. MacDonagh, T.D., is a brother of Thomas MacDonagh, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rebellion, who was executed by the British after the Easter Week rising.]
” There are many arguments against the Treaty. The principal ones are :
” I. The Irish Republican Army (not the ‘ Free State ‘ Army, with headquarters at Beggars Bush), which has renounced its allegiance to Dail Eireann since that body handed over its powers to the Provisional Government and ceased to function as the Government of the Irish Republic.
“2. All the men and women killed or murdered by the British during the last six years gave their lives for an Irish Republic, and all the sophistries of the pro-Treaty party are unable to hide the fact that the proposed pact is a betrayal of the dead who died for Ireland.
” 3. If the Treaty is accepted by the people, Ireland will assume a share of the British war debt, and will require such an army to prevent the young men of Ireland from re-establishing the Republic that taxation will become in-tolerable and make a trade or industrial revival impossible.
” 4. The partition of Ireland is admitted for the first time by people claiming to be Irish Nationalists.
” The above four arguments show how impossible it is to expect a settlement on the lines of the Treaty. The first argument the Irish Republican Army, which still remains faithful to its oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic will not allow that Republic which was proclaimed by Pearse and his colleagues, less than 1,000 men, mostly unarmed, to be disestablished while it can count on upwards of 50,000 men mostly armed and well used to fighting. The establishment of the ‘ Free State ‘ means the disbandment of the Irish Republican Army by force, and that means civil war.
” The second argument will make it certain that even if the ‘ Free State ‘ be now established, the patriotic youth of every coming generation in Ireland will try by force of arms to re-establish the Republic for which the heroes from 1916 to 1922 died. That will mean civil war.
” The third argument shows that Ireland, which should be prosperous, must remain poor in order that it may be made safe for the British Empire. Those people who are now clamouring for peace, thinking it is the forerunner of prosperity, will soon realise that the Treaty means national decay.
” Lord Birkenhead may congratulate his colleague on having set the Irish fighting ; Mr. Churchill on the great achievement of British statesmanship, and on the chance of making ‘ Irish civilisation a by-word throughout the world ‘ ; Mr. Griffith on having achieved freedom for Ireland and ended the fight of seven hundred and fifty years ; and Mr. Collins on having obtained the freedom to achieve freedom. But the I.R.A. are, above all, realists. They realise that the seven hundred and fifty years’ fight is not yet ended and that the Treaty does not give even freedom to achieve freedom. They are aware of the fact that they possess an instrument which, if used, renders the establishment of the ‘ Free State ‘ and the disestablishment of the Irish Republic impossible. They mean to use that instrument
(Signed) ” JOSEPH MACDONAGH.”
FROM P. J. HOGAN[Mr. Hogan is Minister of Agriculture in Dail Eireann, and occupies the same Cabinet position in the Provisional Government.]
” The land is the outstanding problem in the new Ireland. The changed political order, which sets free the energies of the people for the task of reconstruction and nation-building, has definitely brought the question of the settlement of the broader aspects of the land problem into the first place. Land purchase on the established lines will have to be completed at once.
” The present position of land purchase is that about three-fourths of the tenanted land has been sold to the occupiers through the machinery of the British Land Acts. The benefits of t land purchase need no arguing. The improvement in the material and mental outlook of those who have been made the owners of the land they till is admitted by all. It is there to see.
” The financing of a future scheme presents considerable difficulties. The finances of the existing Land Purchase Acts have broken down. Ireland cannot afford to finance future land purchase on the lines of the last Acts. Whatever way out is found, however, it is plain that the raising of the necessary money is a matter of national credit, and from this point of view the present insecurity is most unfortunate.
” Following the completion of the transfer of the occupied land to its tenants must come the acquisition, division, and establishment of homesteads on the untenanted ranches. Due largely to the plantations of the past these ranches consist of wide areas of some of the most fertile land in the country, hungered after by the owners of tiny or barren holdings adjoining and by other classes of deserving claimants. The acquisition of these untenanted areas and their conversion into suitable holdings is a problem of immediate urgency in view of the necessity of providing for the needs even of our present population pending the development and exploitation of Ireland’s industrial resources.
” But while land settlement must be regarded as the first step towards an efficient and economical use of the land which is our greatest national asset, supplementary assistance must be given by way of a loan chargeable on the property with a view to providing the proprietor with the equipment and housing necessary to a progressive agriculture. In the case of new settlements such provision will, of course, be absolutely essential. There is little use of educating the farmer as to the necessity of proper housing for stock and implements or of the desirability of initiating different lines of development if through lack of capital or credit he is unable to effect the necessary changes
” Equally important to the country is an efficient system of agricultural education. It is one of the anomalies with which unfortunately we have been too familiar that in this agricultural country the schemes of education have been directed to fit the youth of the country for anything rather than agriculture. Only within the last year or so has there even been a beginning made towards the establishment of faculties of agriculture in the university centres. It is a primary condition of success in developing our knowledge of the potentialities of the land, and disseminating that knowledge so as to be of practical value to our farmers, that attention to this, the fundamental industry of the country, should be firmly established as a most important function of the universities. Quite apart from agricultural research in its ordinary meaning, it would seem desirable that in these centres new possibilities of farm practice might be tested on a commercial scale. In Ireland we have too few farmers, whatever may be their enlightenment, who are so fortunately circumstanced as to be able to take the risks inherent in pioneering.
” The problems referred to are those which seem to call most for immediate attention from the State authority. But there still remains almost untouched a wide field of possible agricultural developments.
” The questions of new agricultural industries, organisation of markets, transit facilities or improvements, reclamation of waste lands, might be mentioned as typical. There is also awaiting attention the question of congestion in the West. So far only the fringe of this difficult problem has been touched. A population is there eking out a precarious existence on holdings which are either too small or too unproductive to support them. This situation has to be remedied.
” We can see, therefore, that agriculture in Ireland is at a trying period, and in grievous need of reconstruction and development. By virtue of the Treaty we have complete control of the industry. If we have difficulties and problems, we have, likewise, for the first time, power to deal with them. If we fail to bring agriculture to the level of efficiency and productiveness it has reached in such countries as Denmark, then we shall have nobody to blame for failure but ourselves.
(Signed) ” P. J. HOGAN.”
De Valera promised to contribute to the symposium, but failed to do so. However, I did obtain from him an exclusive interview during the session of Dail Eireann in December 1921, and it may be of interest to include here parts of his statement to me at that time.
” Our opponents in the Dail,” De Valera began ” and, really, I think it is only fair to explain they are not our opponents in fact however, politically speaking, our opponents have been playing politics in this matter of Document No. 2. They have succeeded in inducing a large section of the Press to make much of the seeming similarity between the oath contained in the Treaty and the oath which I suggested verbally at the secret session. As a result of their success in this attempt to mislead the people with regard to the true facts, almost all of the Irish newspapers are displaying this sort of thing …”
Here De Valera spread out an evening newspaper on the table and pointed with his forefinger to a box containing under the caption, ” The Two Oaths,” an italicised statement which read as follows :
” Mr. Sean Milroy on Tuesday revealed Mr. De Valera’s alternative oath. It is for the Irish nation to say if they agree with Mr. Griffith that this is a quibble.”
The two oaths followed in parallel columns, and the statement concluded with a further italicised line, which read :
” Mr. Milroy declared that the whole issue at stake was the difference between these two oaths.” De Valera’s ” explanation ” of the difference, as he stated it to me, was as follows :
” The trouble with the oath contained in the Treaty,” he said, ” is not at all with regard to swearing to be ‘ faithful ‘ to the King of England; the trouble is swearing allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State ‘ as by law established which amounts to swearing allegiance to the King, the King under the Treaty terms actually being the titular head of the Constitution the very Constitution itself.
” Now, since it is impossible to win the status of an isolated Republic, but because it is possible to arrange an external association with the British Commonwealth of Nations, I can see no harm in recognising the King as the head of that Commonwealth. It seems to me there is a very real difference between these two viewpoints, as there is between the two oaths.
” I suppose that the world appreciates Ireland’s true ambition. The Irish people have always wanted an isolated status like that of Switzerland or Denmark, with guarantees of neutrality. But England, rightly or wrongly, never has been able to see her way clear to consenting to this perhaps fearing in the case of war with another Power that she might have to violate such Irish neutrality and thus earn the same stigma as Germany in regard to Belgium.
” Knowing that it is impossible to win this much, and having already agreed to endeavour to find the way to effect a real peace between the Irish and English people, it does not strike me as being repugnant to recognise the King of England. I go even further, and say the objectionable feature of the Treaty oath is not in agreeing to be ‘ faithful ‘ to the King, because I disagree that there is any analogy between such a term and the fealty of a slave to his master. On the contrary, I take it to mean that it is the faithfulness of two equals who prove it in keeping a bargain made.
” The point is that the oath contained in the Treaty actually and unequivocally binds the taker to ‘ allegiance ‘ to the English King, for under the terms of the Treaty the Constitution of the Irish Free State ‘ as by law established ‘ is the King of England and nobody else.
” As a matter of fact, those in favour of the ratification of the Treaty are taking an unfair advantage in making it appear that the difference between the two oaths is the only actual difference between us. My verbally proposed oath was the least of what I offered by way of counter proposals. It is not even correctly expressed, as a study of it immediately makes apparent. I never put it on paper. Had I done so, it would have been properly expressed. I did not expect it to be written down and used against me in a public session of the Dail.
” I have repeatedly said in the public sessions that the Treaty is objectionable because it does not mean peace. The reason for this is obvious. The Irish people never mean to become part of the British Empire, but they are eagerly willing to be faithful to any agreement they enter into, even an agreement designating the king as titular head of the negotiating party. We earnestly, honestly and faithfully want to establish and maintain peaceful relations with England, but this can be ” and here De Valera paused as if choosing his words with the greatest care ” only when ‘ we ‘ means the Irish nation, and not British subjects within the Empire.
” My plan of peace is much more acceptable to Mr. Lloyd George than this Treaty, unbelievable as that may sound. It is more acceptable to him, if he only knew it, because it spells real peace, whereas the inclusion of Ireland within the Empire will never spell peace. If peace were to come on the lines I have proposed the greatest difficulty that might well eventuate would be to prevent too much fraternisation between the two countries !
” Whether the Dail will ratify the Treaty or reject the Treaty I do not know, nor can any man know. But one thing I do know, and I am sure that every man and woman in the Dail knows it too ratification will not mean peace. It will mean sooner or later that the English Government will have to face the centuries’ old question of Ireland for the Irish people. This I am so convinced Mr. Lloyd George fully comprehends as to leave me little moved by the arguments of our opponents that rejection would be immediatelyfollowed by war.
” When Mr. Lloyd George knows, as I am positive he knows, that he can have a permanent and faithful peace with Ireland, including the association of Ireland with the Commonwealth of Nations of the British Empire so long as we remain ourselves and have not to become British subjects I think there can still be arranged such a peace not only can, but will be.”
FROM SIR MAURICE DOCKRELL, M.P.[Sir Maurice is the only Unionist member elected from the South of Ireland to the Imperial Parliament, who, after his experience in the House of Commons, became an ardent Home Ruler. He is one of the principal business men of Ireland.]
” One would need to be a super-optimist to predict a future for the Treaty amid all the happenings of the moment. The flash of light which heralded its arrival may either have revealed an unsuspected precipice or may have temporarily blinded us to its full meaning. We may resemble birds who, after being released from captivity, circle round and round in apparent perplexity as to which is the true course to their objective. All Irishmen who are lovers of their country will hope that we may soon find and pursue with unerring aim the road that leads to a happy and prosperous Ireland.
(Signed) ” DOCKRELL.”
FROM His GRACE MOST REV. DR. T. P. GILMARTIN[Dr. Gilmartin is the Archbishop of Tuam.]
” If educated men with a sense of citizenship are returned to Parliament, if judges and police are worthy of their roles, if, in a word, all the organs of the new State function normally, a great future awaits us. The country is fresh and undeveloped ; the population is healthy ; the people love their homes and their families ; the vices of civilisation are to a great extent unknown, and all the fixed factors of progress are, I think, realisable. But there are many unknown quantities in the problem, and there are many ‘ ifs ‘ in the political prophecy.
(Signed) ” GILMARTIN.”
FROM RICHARD CROKER[The late Richard Croker dictated and signed the following statement while lying on his sickbed a few weeks before his death in his home, Glencairn,
in Stillorgan, a suburb of Dublin.]
“In my opinion there are four countries in the world Coady which can be properly called progressive. They are America, Japan, Germany and the Argentine Republic. In my opinion the Irish Free State will rank among the best of these if it is given a chance. But . . .
” The way the leaders of this Irish Free State are handicapped reminds me of last year’s Grand National. Out of 27 starters two finished, and the second of these had fallen at the water- jump all due to the impossible difficulties of the course. Just this applies to the men who are now trying to establish the Free State.
” These men are looking forward, instead of backward ; they are trying to bring prosperity to their country. Their faces are set to the future, and their minds are not dwelling on the wrongs and misrule of 750 years. But will their opponents take down the hurdles and lighten the weights and give the Free State a chance ? Until we have an answer to that question nobody can say what the future holds in store for Ireland.
” Progressive Irishmen have left Ireland for many years back and have gone out into the world and taken commanding positions, filling important governmental posts in countries all over the world. They have done so chiefly because they had no opportunity in their own country to better their condition. Now the opportunity has com they should not let it escape.
” Men like Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith would rise to the highest positions in the Government if they were American born and had done one half of what they have done for Ireland. In 15 years from Coady, if the wreckers of the Treaty do not succeed in preventing it, Michael Collins will prove himself to be one of the great figures of the world. At least, this is my opinion.
” If the Free State leaders are sustained, the prosperity that will come to Ireland in the wake of returning sons and daughters, and the consequent opening up of industries, will provide work for every man that is now idle and will bring comfort and plenty to all the people. And yet nothing in the existing situation justifies anybody’s predicting that they will be sustained.
” And this is none the less true for all that as between the opposing factions the only important difference is over a name. As to the patriotism and love of country and sincerity of all the men and women on both sides, there is no question whatever. But I cannot believe that the Treaty opponents will plunge the country into misery. If they do, it will be the sorriest day in all Ireland’s sorry history.
(Signed) ” RICHARD CROKER.”
FROM ERSKINE CHILDERS[Mr. Childers, who, until the summer elections, was the only member of the Dail born in England, and because there is as yet no naturalisation machinery in Ireland remained an Englishman, was generally considered the brains behind the Republican movement.]
” I approach the question as one who is deeply and vehemently opposed to the Treaty, but I will try to assume that the Irish people gives its sanction to the Treaty and that the Free State is set up. A most extraordinary position would result from the first. The election would have been decided on an obsolete register giving no fair reflection of the electorate as it exists Coady, and excluding from the franchise most of the young men who fought in the war of independence and are resolutely opposed to accepting the Treaty and entering the British Empire. The young women would also be excluded, although adult suffrage is, or should be, now universal in up-to-date democracies, and although these young women took a most important share in the winning of the war. You would, therefore, have from the first some of the most virile elements of the population smarting under the grievance of not having been able to give a vote in an election deciding the destiny of their country.
” But there is a wider question still. The election would be fought under the threat of renewed war by the British. Mr. Griffith has declared that the issue will be ‘ to honour the Treaty or revert to war.’ To honour the Treaty means to surrender the existing Irish Republic and the independence of Ireland and agree to her entry into the British Empire as a conquered people. To ask that a national democracy choose with a bayonet at its throat between freedom and extermination is a thing never done before in history, and an iniquitous thing.
” The verdict at such an election, if it were for the Treaty, would be null and void, and would be considered so in their hearts even by those who voted for the Treaty.
” Apart from this, you would have the whole of the present Republican party, which, though it might be beaten at the polls, would, at any rate, be a large minority, violently opposed to the surrender of independence which would have been thrust upon them, and determined to use their utmost efforts to regain it.
” I am not saying anything about civil war. That is the question I am discussing. What I mean is that talk as people will about the people of Ireland settling this question at an election, the question will not be settled unless it is settled by the defeat of the Treaty and by the return of the Irish people to that unity which can only be based on independent nationality. Otherwise you would have the nation divided against itself, some of its citizens prepared to live a lie and to send to Parliament members ready to swear an allegiance they do not feel to a foreign king, others disowning that Parliament, refusing to go into it and working to restore independence.
” This is how human nature will act inevitably, as it would in any other country in the world, and I, therefore, feel it impossible to estimate the gain to fine national development which might result from the use of the powers which the Free State has received, important as they undoubtedly are. A nation divided fundamentally on the question of its very existence as an independent nation cannot function and develop freely. I myself anticipate that the struggle could not last long and that it must end in the recognition of Irish independence. Then, and then only, can our nation find its true place in the world and express fully its own culture and civilisation.
(Signed) ” ERSKINE CHILDERS.”
FROM SEAN MILROY[Mr. Milroy, T.D., one of the few members of Dail Eireann representing two constituencies one of which is in Ulster has proved himself repeatedly during the course of the Dail debates one of the most brilliant thinkers in that assemblage.]
” I am asked to express my opinion upon the question, ‘ Under the terms of the Treaty, what does the future hold in store for Ireland ? ‘
” That question might be dealt with by the reply that under the terms of the Treaty Ireland’s future will be whatever the Irish people wish to make it. In the Proclamation of 1916 appeared the following passage : ” ‘ We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereign and indefeasible.’
” That right has been vindicated by the Treaty, and through it the control of Irish destinies passes into the hands of the Irish people. A fair and legitimate test of the powers it brings to the Irish nation is the examination of how far the constructive programme embodied in the constitution of the Sinn Fein organisation is made possible as a result of the Treaty. Briefly that programme was as follows :
” I. The protection of Irish industries and commerce.
“2. The establishment and maintenance of an Irish consular service.
“3. The re-establishment of an Irish mercantile marine.
“4. The industrial survey of Ireland and the development of its mineral resources.
“5. The establishment of a national stock exchange.
” 6. The creation of a national civil service.
” 7. The establishment of courts of arbitration.
“8. The development of transit by road, rail, and water, and of waste lands.
” 9. The development of Irish sea fisheries.
” 10. The reform of education to render its basis national and industrial.
” 11. The abolition of the Poor Law system.
” The greater portion of that programme has been impossible hitherto ; only in four of the various aspects of it, viz., 1, 4, 7, and 10, was it feasible to make any effort. In only one, viz., the establishment of courts of arbitration, were comprehensive, practical results achieved.
” Under the Treaty the whole programme becomes a matter of practical work. It requires no great imagination to understand what a transformed Ireland we shall have when that is done.
” Another test of the value of the Treaty to Ireland :
“In 1919 an announcement was issued over the names of President De Valera and Michael Collins, Minister of Finance, advertising the loan of that year. The following is part of the wording of that announcement stating what might be achieved for Ireland if the loan was subscribed :
‘ You can recover Ireland for the Irish. ”
‘ You can re-people the land.
‘ You can harness the rivers.
‘ You can put her flag on every sea.
‘ You can plant the hillsides and the wastes.
‘ You can set the looms spinning.
‘ You can set the hammer ringing on the anvil.
‘ You can abolish the slums.
‘ You can send her ships to every port.
‘ You can garner the harvest of the seas.
‘ You can drain the bogs.
‘ You can save the boys and girls for Ireland.
‘ You can restore Ireland’s health, her strength, her beauty, and her wealth.’
” That was a magnificent outline of what could be done for Ireland.
” The Treaty gives to Ireland the chance to secure that every one of these objects for which the loan was subscribed can become an accomplished fact within our own day.
“It is not likely that the Irish people will thoughtlessly throw away the fairest chance that Ireland has known for centuries of becoming free and progressive.
(Signed) ” SEAN MILROY.”
FROM MARY MACSWINEY[Miss MacSwiney, T.D, is sister of the late Lord Mayor of Cork, who died in Brixton Prison after a hunger-strike that lasted for more than two months ; in a speech at a session of Dail Eireann she vowed she would be an uncompromising rebel against the Free State as she always has been against British rule in Ireland.}
” As I write, the peace committee of An Dail is still striving to find a basis of negotiations between the Republican party and those who favour the Treaty. They will have finished their deliberations long before this article reaches the public. If they succeeded in finding such a basis it will be such that Republicans can be certain it will not involve now, or at any future time, acceptance of the Articles of Agreement which put Ireland inside the British Empire.
” The future of Ireland is certain. Independence will bring prosperity, and, side by side with increasing prosperity, will spread Gaelic culture, which will make our people great as hi the olden days when Ireland was the university of Europe. That Ireland free and Gaelic will have much to give humanity and will be generous in the giving. But all that development is contingent on real independence ; not the loosening or lengthening of the tyrant’s chain, but the breaking of it
” The proposed Treaty could never bring peace to Ireland, because it would not bring real freedom, and ‘ Ireland unfree will never be at peace.’ A certain material prosperity it might bring for a time. But as soon as the natural development of Cork and Galway roused the jealousy of Southampton and Liverpool, we would have a repetition of the old economic coercion.
” England did not ask for a truce and negotiations because her conscience smote her for her frightfulness in Ireland, but because she hoped that the Welsh wizard would accomplish at the conference-table by his wiles what her Huns and her Black and Tans could not do by their terror ; and because the Treaty is of English manufacture and in English interests it cannot bring peace to Ireland. Should it be forced on our people by the threat of ‘ immediate and terrible war,’ which frightened our delegates into signing that disgraceful document on the 6th of last December, the result will not help England any more than it will bring peace to Ireland.
” The Treaty to Ireland will mean civil war and chaos for a time, and an added spirit of hatred and revenge toward England. As long as there is a trace or a symbol of English domination in Ireland so long will the enmity between the nations last ; so long will there be Irishmen who will look upon every difficulty in which England finds herself as an opportunity for them to strike a blow again at our one and only enemy. Through the Treaty, therefore, there can be no peace ; the fight must be carried on until England withdraws her preposterous demand that Ireland become a Dominion of the British Empire ; that Irishmen take an oath of fidelity to a foreign monarch, and allow a Governor General, no matter how camouflaged, in our country.
” Much effort is expended by our enemies in vilifying the Republican attitude. That vilification ought not to receive any support from any American who knows his history. That our country is passing through a terrible crisis at present is true ; that much lawlessness exists and dire poverty is equally true ; much of the poverty is part of the economic conditions which obtain all over Europe as a result of the world war. In so far as our difficulties are political, the blame lies on England chiefly for trying to force us to accept her Empire under threat of ‘ immediate and terrible war and, secondly, on those who gave way to that threat and so divided the country. Let England remove the threat of war and agree to abide by the free decision of the Irish people and we have no doubt nor has England what that decision will be.
” Meantime, a little more patience, renewed courage, and the victory is ours. Remember Washington’s bitter cry at the condition of the States of the Union after the War of Independence had been won. And yet his country surmounted her difficulties. So will Ireland.
” And Ireland free will make Ireland great and noble. Men and women will bend themselves to the task of making this land of ours a real home for all its children ; where justice will abound ; where every child born to the noble heritage of Irish citizenship will be assured of its rights and will grow up to enjoy the blessings of freedom won by the heroic struggles of Ireland’s martyrs, and to increase, in happier times and circumstances, the magnificence of that heritage for posterity.
(Signed) ” MARY MACSWINEY.”
FROM J. J. WALSH[Mr. Walsh, T.D., Postmaster-General of the Provisional Government, fought in the Easter week rebellion, and thereafter spent long periods in gaol.]
” Ireland under the Treaty will have a Parliament elected by, and responsible to, the Irish people, an Executive Government responsible to that Parliament, power to legislate for every department of national life, a democratic constitution, an Irish judiciary, an army for the protection, instead of the repression, of Ireland, a police force or civic guard for the maintenance of Irish law and order (and not British), and a recognised place as a separate state amongst the nations. Notwithstanding certain imperfections in the Treaty, she can deal in her own way with everything that touches the lives of the people. She has government of the people, for the people, by the people, for the first time practically in eight hundred years ” Ireland having complete control of education, it goes without saying that this means the scrapping of existing methods from A B C to university and the substitution of a system ensuring the complete re-Gaelicisation of the race. The present national education system (called ‘ national ‘ because it was intended to denationalise, and ‘ education ‘ because it was intended to delude) has, even in the short space of time since Irish ideas have begun to count, received its deathblow.
” For many years the Gaelic League has been doing its utmost to revive the native language and culture, but voluntary effort in such matters obtains little success. Now, however, the schools can do their natural part, and in the future bilingual education, in accordance with national sentiment, is assured, an incalculable advantage in the remodelling of the nation.
” So many avenues for strenuous effort exist that it is impossible to do more than touch on them here. The improvement of the physique of the race will be of prime importance. Forced emigration during the last half century has depleted Ireland of much of its young man- hood. The ill-wind of the world-war, however, has blown good in this respect, as it kept scores of thousands of young people from emigrating, and no effort will now be spared to make it worth their while to remain at home Good houses, land, and fruitful work will be provided ; healthy sport will be encouraged ; the Aonach Tailltean or Tailltean Games are being revived, though not by the Provisional Government, after the lapse of centuries, men and women of the Irish race throughout the world being eligible to compete.
” Vast areas require to be drained, mineral resources developed, and reforestation on a large scale attempted, for under English rule effort in these respects was either stifled altogether or merely tinkered with. Development and misrule do not thrive together. And as the development of Irish industries proceeds it is hoped to link up Ireland for purposes of direct trading with all the great countries of the world.
“It is intended to make the country as attractive as possible for tourists. Roads will be improved for motorists and the country generally opened up. Already the question of instituting aerial services between Ireland, England and beyond for mails and passengers is under consideration. Further, it is hoped by studying the various systems of the world, and especially the American, to ensure an internal telephone system second to none.
” It will, of course, take some time to make the Irish landscape fruitful and smiling, but it is not too much to prophesy that after a few years Ireland will be as different from what she is at present as cheese is from chalk. Irish speaking and Irish, she will take the distinct and worthy place amongst the nations which her history entitles her to. ” Many people look dismal at the prospect of further strife. They forget that there is an aftermath to every revolution. It will pass.
(Signed) ” J. J. WALSH.”
FROM SEAN ETCHINGHAM[Mr. Etchingham, although a great friend and admirer of Arthur Griffith, is one of the Treaty’s bitterest opponents. In spite of his advanced years, he took an active part in organising the rebellion in Wexford in 1916. He was beaten for re-election to the Dail in the summer elections.]
” The present situation in Ireland is the inevitable result of signing the Articles of Agreement in London and attempting to force acceptance of them on the people. If some members of the delegation had been preparing their
minds for many months to the final act of December 6, 1921, the young men in the army had not such schooling of thought. Rather were they preparing for a renewal of the struggle, and this is what they were exhorted to.
” Out in the West the real Ireland the present Minister of Defence, General Richard Mulcahy, made a no surrender ‘ address to the army at Galway, December 4, 1921. Away down to the South of Ireland the selfsame intense feeling fills the minds and actions of Ireland’s soldiers. President Griffith’s action in asking the young fighting men to march into the British Empire with their ‘ heads up ‘ displays an astounding lack of appreciation of the patriotism and self-sacrifice of the youth of Ireland. The Irish Republic is, with them, a firm faith.
” They say that it is the intention of those advocating acceptance of the Treaty to use it as a steppingstone toward the Republic. Hell in the same way is paved with good intentions. To kill the Republic and resurrect it again may be a soothing balm to a troubled conscience, but it is beyond my grip. It is like putting it on the long finger.
” There was a newspaper in America which one morning announced the death of a prominent citizen. When this gentleman entered the editorial office a little later he demanded an explanation. ‘ I’m not dead he said. ‘You can see that for yourself. Contradict it ! ‘ But the editor wasn’t willing to admit the error. ‘ We never make a mistake he declared. ‘ But I’ll tell you what I will do for you : I’ll put you in the Birth Notices tomorrow.’ You cannot solve the death and birth of the Republic here in that way.
” For instance, here in Dublin there are too many Republican plots, and the graves therein are memories not soon forgotten. If Ireland wants to avoid the horror of civil war she must consult the army. The soldiers of the Irish Republic are patriots.
” No, the Treaty will not bring peace to Ireland. That should have been apparent to even ‘ peace-at-any-price ‘ people. There was not a rush light in Ireland to celebrate it. Ireland wants peace, and peace can be had if President Griffith and Mr. Collins will but meet the situation. Both of them, I feel, want to do the best they can for Ireland. Both have worked well for Ireland in the past. They can now do the greatest work it was ever given two Irishmen to do. They can make it possible to unite their people and bring peace to their country. It is better not to make known to the world at the moment how that can be done. Enough that it is in their power to do.
(Signed) ” SEAN ETCHINGHAM.”
FROM KEVIN O’HiGGiNS[Mr. O’Higgins, T.D., is Minister of Commerce in the Provisional Government and in Dail Eireann.] ” When some people in America cabled Mr. De Valera remonstrating with him on the conditions of anarchy and fratricidal strife his policy is precipitating in Ireland, he replied, ‘ Oh, ye of little faith, hold up your heads ! ‘ To my mind the men ‘ of little faith ‘ are those who speak and think of their nation as if it were some dead thing that could be wrapped up for all time like a mummy in a bit of parchment called a Treaty. ” The Irish nation is a living, growing organism whose development cannot be stayed by a formula nor cease with the full stop of a document.
” You ask what the Treaty offers for Ireland in the future. One cannot answer apart from existing conditions. Mr. De Valera, at the head of a fraction of the population, cannot secure better terms for the nation, but he has great power for evil. He can sour the auspices, he can poison the wells, he can sap morale, kill enterprise, lock up capital, and foster anarchy. He can do what the British could not do he can kill the Irish nation.
” And the Irish nation is the thing that matters, not the phrase or formula used to describe the mechanics of its Government. The Irish nation is something greater than Republic or Free State the Irish nation thinking nationally not thinking in terms of murder, brigandage or civil war, not thinking in terms of ‘ wading through Irish blood,’ but thinking in terms of reconstruction and progress and national consciousness.
” All this could have been secured if Mr. De Valera had been big enough to take his stand with Collins and Griffith and advise his people to accept this Treaty, not as a recognition of their full rights, not as an ideal thing, not as a final thing, but as affording them an opportunity to grow strong, to attain internal unity, to rid themselves of the slave-mind born of vested interests in the British administration, to solve the North-eastern problem, and then to go forward proudly to the fulfilment of their destiny.
” For the metaphysical difference he professes to see between his Document No. 2 and the Treaty, he has preferred to throw the country into a welter in which national morale is giving place to party spirit or to despair and cynicism, and in which all the moral elevating effect of our six years’ struggle is fast running out.
” In the existing conditions I cannot prophesy. We of the Provisional Government, we who stand for acceptance of the Treaty simply because we can give the country no reasonable assurance of securing better, are doing, and will continue to do, our best towards reconstruction and development that will enable Ireland to export something henceforth other than her sons and daughters But as I have said, Mr. De Valera and his friends have great power for evil one cannot reconstruct while people are wading through one’s blood.
” The opposition we are faced with is not constitutional, the democratic principle of the majority’s will being the deciding factor in political affairs is waived aside, the exploded doctrine of ‘ the right divine of kings to govern wrong ‘ is revived in altered form as the divine right of Document 2-ites to shove their patent medicine down the necks of the people at the point of the revolver. Well-meaning Irish-Americans who subscribe funds to the opponents of the Treaty are adding their weight and strength to hurl Ireland, in the very hour of her delivery, down to a hell of anarchy and despair. … No ! I will not prophesy !
” So much depends on what Mr. De Valera may do, and my experience of Mr. De Valera leads me to the view that it is utterly impossible to base any opinion on a calculation of that kind. In any case, it is generally accepted that he has set factors at work that he will not be able to control when and if he recovers sufficient sanity to wish to do so
(Signed) ” KEVIN O’HIGGINS.”