A Forgotten Small Nationality
Ireland and the War
By Francis Sheehy-Skeffington
England has so successfully hypnotised the world into regarding the neighbouring conquered island as an integral part of Great Britain that even Americans gasp at the mention of Irish independence. Home rule they understand, but independence! “How could Ireland maintain an independent existence?” they ask. “How could you defend yourselves against all the great nations?” I do not feel under any obligation to answer this question, because that objection, if recognised as valid, would make an end of the existence of any small nationality whatever. All of them, from their very nature, are subject to the perils and disadvantages of independent sovereignty. I neither deny nor minimise these.
But the consensus of civilised opinion is now agreed that they are entirely outweighed by the benefits which complete self-government confers upon the small nation itself, and enables it to confer on humanity. If the reader will not admit this, I will not stay to argue the matter with him. I will merely refer him to the arguments in vogue in favor of the independence of Belgium as against Germany, or of the Scandinavian countries as against Russia.
Neither will I stop to argue with those who say that Ireland should be content with Home Rule. Ireland has not got Home Rule, and, unless England is sufficiently humbled in this war to make Ireland’s friendship worth buying, is not likely to get it. But what if it had? Bohemia has Home Rule within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Is Bohemia contented? It is notorious that the great mass of the Czechs are eagerly longing for the moment when Russia will inflict such a blow upon the Austro-Hungarian Empire as may enable Bohemia to become an independent central European state. Again, if Bohemia, why not Ireland?
There is an idea in some quarters, sedulously encouraged by England, with an eye on the friendship of the United States, that whatever may have been the case in the past, the English Government in Ireland has improved of late years. Let us therefore examine its conduct in Ireland during the months immediately preceding the war.
A Liberal Government was in office in England, pledged to give Home Rule to Ireland. On the strength of that pledge, Mr. John Redmond and his party kept that Government in power for over four years, and enabled it to pass not merely the act for curbing the power of the House of Lords, but other measures, such as the National Insurance Act, in which Ireland had no interest or which were actually detrimental to Ireland. In Ulster Sir Edward Carson led, armed, and drilled a body of 80,000 men, pledged to resist by force the enactment of Home Rule. Their drilling and arming were in themselves unlawful; their avowed object was still more so, involving defiance of the enactments of that Imperial Parliament to which they professed the utmost loyalty.
Nevertheless, the Liberal Government allowed this open propaganda of rebellion, this aristocratically led and financed movement, to proceed unchecked. After two years of this, the Nationalists of the South awoke. After all, they said, we outnumber these Carsonites by about four to one. If they choose to introduce the factor of physical force, if they can employ it successfully to intimidate the English Government, so that its leading members say that the coercion of Ulster is “unthinkable,” then we, too, will cease to rely upon weapons of persuasion alone. We, too, will arm and drill, and will face the English Government with the only argument it appears to understand. And they formed the Irish Volunteers. That was in November, 1913.
Within a month the Government, which for two years had allowed the Carsonites to get in all the arms they wished, issued an order prohibiting the importation of any arms or ammunition into Ireland. When Ireland is taunted, as a New York evening newspaper has taunted it, with its “poltroonery” in not taking advantage of the present war to seize freedom, these facts have to be remembered. Anything in the nature of arming or drilling was sternly repressed in Ireland until Carson began it. The “Volunteers” and the “Territorials” of England had no counterpart in Ireland, where the people were never trusted with arms. Carson and his followers were left untouched, because it was known that, however they might declaim against a particular English Government, in effect they stood for that English domination in Ireland which every Government, whether it calls itself Liberal or Tory, is careful to maintain as the very sheet-anchor of the British Empire.
But the arming of Irish Nationalists, who were pledged to maintain the rights and liberties of Ireland only, was a different matter. The gravely perturbed English Government could not suppress the movement altogether – Carson’s immunity had made that impossible – but, with an ingenious show of impartiality as between the two regions, it prohibited all import of arms. Carson’s men had been arming for two years; the Nationalists had just begun to organize. The strict impartiality of the order will appeal to those who now protest against any embargo on the export of munitions from the United States. Both regions promptly started gun-running. In April, 1914, the biggest gun-running operation up till then was carried out by the Ulstermen. The Fanny, the yacht which brought the guns, was talked about in the press for a fortnight before it reached Ulster; the patrols of the English navy were watching the coasts; yet somehow the Fanny reached Larne, unloaded its cargo, and got away again without any interference from the gunboat patrols. At Larne it was met by a host of automobiles, which took away the rifles.
To facilitate the operation, the Ulster Volunteers seized Larne harbor, imprisoned the harbor master and police, and took the entire control of the town into their hands. Another ship-load was disembarked on the same night at another Ulster port. Here a too-zealous customs official offered resistance; he died of heart disease. Nobody was identified, punished, or even prosecuted for this flagrant defiance of the law, although the episode was described by Mr. Asquith in the House of Commons as an “unprecedented outrage” and pledges were given that due punishment would be meted out to its perpetrators. Nothing was done. After all, these were the faithful “English garrison in Ireland”; for the moment the politicians must pretend to oppose them, but in reality they were doing England’s work and helping to make more difficult, or perhaps impossible, any measure of Home Rule for Ireland.
Very different was the attitude of the Government and its officials toward Nationalistic gun-running. Here the utmost vigilance was displayed. Gunboats patroled the shores of Dublin and Wicklow, as well as the western coast, unceasingly. Even when Mr. Redmond, by order of the English Government (as is generally believed in Ireland) asserted his right to command the Irish Volunteers, which he had not founded; even when the founders of the organization yielded to Mr. Redmond and gave his nominees half the seats on their committee, still, Mr. Redmond could not persuade the Government to relax the ban on the importation of arms. Perhaps he did not try very hard. He was as much afraid of the Volunteers as the Government was; his only wish was to keep them under his control, lest they might become an instrument for those Nationalists who looked beyond Parliament sham battles to the complete liberation of Ireland.
This portion in the Volunteers continued gun-running under the double disadvantage of having to deceive both the Government and their own Redmondite colleagues on the Joint Executive Committee. On July 26, just after the Austrian ultimatum to Servia, the famous gun-running exploit of Howth took place. The Dublin Volunteers made a Sunday route-march to Howth (nine miles), none but a few leaders knowing the object. As they entered the village, a yacht, steered by a woman, came alongside the pier. The English patrol boat was not in the neighbourhood, a conveniently disseminated rumor of gun-running in Wexford having sent it off on a false scent. This yacht’s arrival had not been boomed in advance, like the Fanny’s, otherwise the vigilance of the patrol would not have been so easy to elude as the Ulstermen had found it.
The Volunteers, following strictly the Ulster precedent, took possession of the pier, excluded the police and harbor officials, they did not go so far as to imprison them in their own offices and barracks, as had been done, with only a shadow of resistance, at Larne, disembarked the guns, and marched off to Dublin with them. Meantime the wires had been humming, and Dublin Castle was on the alert. At Clontarf, in the outskirts of the city, the Volunteers, marching with unloaded rifles, were met by a combined force of police and soldiers. A parley took place. The Government’s official, Harrel, demanded the surrender of the rifles; the Volunteer leaders refused. Harrel ordered the police to take the rifles. Some of the police refused, and the remainder acted with evident reluctance, an unheard-of thing in Ireland, but a symptom of the general perception of the deliberate favoritism shown by the Government to the Ulstermen as compared with the Irish Volunteers.
The soldiers, a company of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, were then ordered to charge the Volunteers with fixed bayonets. Some Volunteers were stabbed, and a massacre seemed inevitable, when a fresh parley was entered upon. By the time it was over, Harrel discovered that only the front rank of the Volunteers still stood their ground in front of him; the remainder, in obedience to a rapidly disseminated order, “Save the guns,” had executed a strategic retirement. Harrel then drew off his force, and the remnant of the Volunteers completed their march unmolested, no guns having been lost. As the soldiers marched back to the barracks, the Dublin populace assailed them with curses and later with stones. The troops retaliated with a series of bayonet-charges, which further enraged the crowd, in which wild rumors of the fight at Clontarf had spread.
The soldiers were undoubtedly peppered pretty severely with stones; but the assailants were all unarmed, and were largely composed of women and children, There was no justification whatever for the action taken by the soldiery. They turned and fired at the crowd without giving any warning, without even firing a preliminary volley over their heads. Four people were killed – one man, two women, one boy. Several others were wounded, of whom one subsequently died, Nobody was punished; a whitewashing inquiry was held, but meantime the Scottish Borderers had “distinguished themselves” by getting wiped out in the retreat from Mons, and no disciplinary measures were taken.
Harrel, the assistant commissioner of the Dublin police, who had taken it upon himself to call out the soldiers in the first instance, was made a temporary scapegoat; but he is now again in the service of the Government in Ireland, helping in the secret service department, which looks after political affairs. I have dwelt upon this incident of the struggle at Clontarf and the shooting at Bachelor’s Walk because it happened before the war. Some people in America, I find, think that England’s present severity to Ireland is merely a result of the state of war. When the anniversary of Bachelor’s Walk came round this year, the people proposed to put up a commemorative tablet, but the military forbade.
A week after the Bachelor’s Walk massacre (the Irish Zabern, as we call it) the war against “German militarism” broke out. Mr. Redmond, in the House of Commons, had the incredible audacity to commit the Irish people to the support of this war. He and his party were returned to Parliament for one object only, to secure home rule. At no Irish election did any other question become an issue. Repeatedly had Mr. Redmond, when called upon to help some progressive cause, sheltered himself behind his lack of “mandate” ; his mandate, he declared, was for Home Rule only. Yet without any mandate he ventured to commit Ireland to the support of England in a European war. By doing so he missed the greatest opportunity that has ever come to an Irish statesman. Had he, on August 3, 1914, spoken as follows in the Imperial Parliament:
“I have no mandate from the Irish people as to what our attitude should be in the event of a European war; the question has never been discussed between us. My colleagues and I are now going home to Ireland to consult our constituents as to what Ireland’s attitude should be..”
Had he spoken thus, and followed up such a speech by walking out of the House and returning to Ireland, the English Government would have been on its knees to him within a fortnight, and he would have been able to command, as the price of his and Ireland’s aid, something much better than a mutilated Home Rule act on the statute book, which can never come into operation. He should, in short, have acted after the fashion of those Balkan statesmen, who care nothing for either of the warring parties, but look with a single eye to the interest of their own country.
A period of storm and confusion followed Mr. Redmond’s betrayal of Ireland’s interests to England. The Government tried to avoid even putting the Home Rule bill on the statute book; Redmond, driven by public opinion, increasingly stormy in Ireland, was obliged to insist upon that as a minimum. But in passing the act, the Government also passed a Suspensory Act, holding it up for a year, or longer, if so ordered by the Government at the end of the year; and they also declared that they would not in any circumstance “coerce Ulster.”
With the “Home Rule for three-quarters of Ireland” in the form of a scrap of paper, Mr. Redmond tried to induce his followers to join the army. The immediate result was a split in the Irish Volunteers. The founders of the Volunteers, who had accepted Redmondite co-operation on the committee so long as no recruiting plank was adopted, now expelled the Redmondite nominees from the committee, seized the Volunteer offices in Kildare street, Dublin, barricaded and garrisoned them, and prepared to hold them against all comers.
The Redmondite portion formed a new body, the “National Volunteers,” who never troubled much about drilling or arming, but were, and are, merely a branch of the Redmondite political machine. Their devotion to their leader, however, did not go so far as to induce them to follow his advice and enter the English army, as was shown when 30,000 of them paraded before Mr. Redmond last Easter (1915), men who, if they had taken Mr. Redmond’s words seriously, ought to have been in Flanders or at the Dardanelles.
Much confusion was introduced into the Irish situation by the case of Belgium, and by the unscrupulous use made by the English recruiting agencies of Ireland’s traditional and historic sympathy with that country and with France. Catholic Ireland must fight to save Catholic Belgium, was the cry. We countered that by asking why should we not fight for Catholic Galicia, which was then in possession of the anti-Catholic Russians. Mr. Ginnell, the only Irish member of Parliament who is not attached to any political machine, and also the only one who opposes recruiting, has repeatedly asked the Government to bring pressure to bear on its Russian allies, with a view to getting for the Cardinal Archbishop of Lemberg as good treatment as that accorded by the Germans to Cardinal Archbishop of Mechlin; but the Government has decided that it would not be proper to “interfere with the internal affairs of our ally.”
Louvain was the recruiters’ trump card. “Remember,” the Irish were adjured, “that your priests went to Louvain to be educated when they could not get educated in their own land.” Some one with an inconvenient historical memory replied by a reminder that it was English persecution that prevented Catholic priests from getting education in Ireland and compelled them to go to Louvain. Similar audacity was attempted in the case of France. Ireland was adjured to fight for France because France had of old helped Ireland against England!
Another cry was, “The brutal Germans are the descendants of those Hessian troops who helped to put down the rising of 1798.” But who brought the Hessians to Ireland and paid them? The English Government. In this fashion has every recruiting argument proved a boomerang. Despite the subsidizing of the daily and the suppression of the weekly press; despite the pressure exerted by all the political machines and all the influence of social and economic resources; despite the prosecution, under the Defense of the Realm Act, of any who venture to advise an opposite course; despite military law, suspension of trial by jury, arbitrary imprisonment, and deportation, the Irish people have stood fast.
Four hundred thousand Irishmen of military age have stood their ground quietly and tenaciously, and have refused to be stampeded into a war in which they have no concern. For it is the essence of the Irish case that Ireland has no concern in this war. The pretense that it was being waged in behalf of Belgium and of the principle of small nationalities imposed on a few, but not for long; the frank declaration of the London “Times” on March 8 that England is in this war for her own interests and for the preservation of her dominance over the seas, is generally recognized as stating the position accurately.
Even if Belgium were the cause of the war instead of an incident in it, there would still be no reason why Ireland, of all countries, should plunge into the fray. Ireland is the most depopulated and impoverished country in Europe, thanks to the beneficent English rule of the last century, and has no blood or money to spare; and if Holland and Denmark and Sweden and Switzerland, all richer and more densely populated than Ireland, still feel that it is their duty to keep out of the war, a fortiori it is the duty of Irish statesmen to use every effort to keep their people out of it.
Ireland’s highest need is peace and the peaceful development of her resources; not a man can be spared for any chivalric adventure. Belgium, hard pressed as it is, has not yet suffered a tithe of what has been endured by Ireland at the hands of England, and Ireland is still bleeding at every pore from the wounds England in- flicted. Thus even were the Belgian excuse true, there would be higher reasons of self-interest to keep Irish attention concentrated on our own problems. Belgium apart, the other objects of the war – the real objects – have still less claim on Ireland. England’s domination of the seas has been used not accidentally, but of set purpose, to discourage Irish trade, to keep derelict Ireland’s magnificent harbors, the finest natural harbors in western Europe, and to prevent the growth of any mercantile marine in Ireland.
Ireland has never been a partner in the empire or its advantages; she has been a Helot dragged at the chariot-tail of the empire. As it has been put, “Ireland belongs to the Empire, and the Empire belongs to England.” The latest instance of deliberate English interference with an Irish trading interest, before the war, was the stoppage of the Queenstown call. Formerly all the great transatlantic liners called at Queenstown both on the eastern and western journeys, to the great benefit of mail service not merely from Ireland, but from some parts of Great Britain as well. The mail-carrying companies, one after another, stopped this call at Queenstown, with the assent of the English Government, despite unanimous protests from all Ireland, north as well as south.
A committee of patriotic Irish people, which included Mrs. J. R. Green, widow of the eminent historian, and Sir Roger Casement, was formed for the purpose of pressing the Government to reestablish the Queenstown call. Failing in that, as a brilliant counterstroke, this committee induced the Hamburg- American Line to arrange that its liners should call at Queenstown. The English Foreign Office was thunderstruck. Secret negotiations were at once entered upon to prevent Ireland from being thus restored to its proper place on the transatlantic highway. The German Government, naturally valuing England’s friendship more than that of poor, weak Ireland, intervened. The Hamburg-American liners never called at Queenstown, despite their publicly announced intention of doing so. This, by the way, may be added to the category of German diplomatic blunders. Had Germany thus dramatically intervened to grant Ireland a trading favor that England had refused, the way would have been much clearer before Irishmen when the war broke out. I have little doubt that the English Foreign Office, already foreseeing war, had tins in mind when it exerted itself to prevent Germany from showing Ireland this manifestation of favor.
Without any illusions, then, about Germany, but with a clear vision of the English Empire as the incubus on Ireland, Irish Nationalists decided from the start of the war that it was Ireland’s interest and duty to remain neutral as far as possible. In these days of small nationalities Ireland’s right to take an independent line on the war cannot be contested, at all events by those who are fighting “German militarism.” Being held by force by the empire, and plentifully garrisoned both by troops and armed police, – the police have been refused permission to join the army, though many of them have volunteered, because the Government wants them to keep Ireland down – it was not possible for Ireland to be neutral in the full sense. Irishmen who had joined the army in time of peace, through economic pressure for the most part, had to fulfil their duties as reservists; Ireland’s heavy burden of the war taxation could not be evaded.
But, as one of Ireland’s best known literary men put it, Ireland preserved “a moral and intellectual neutrality”; and the individual sympathies of the people, while not “pro-German” in any positive sense, were and are, distinctly anti-English. Mr. Bonar Law said that if Canada or Australia was disinclined to help the empire in this war, no English statesman would dream of compelling them to do so. But Ireland’s notorious and marked disinclination to help was treated from the first as a crime, and the sternest measures of repression were employed against those who claimed Ireland’s right, as a small nation, to settle the question for itself. Since the outbreak of the war, the regime in Ireland has been one of coercion tempered by dread of publicity. The English Government set two aims before itself: to suppress Irish discontent, and at the same time convince the world that no Irish discontent existed. These aims are not reconcilable, and the pursuit of both had led to an extraordinary series of inconsistent and muddle-headed actions. I cannot detail them all in this article.
The first attack was made on the independent press. The daily press was reduced to subserviency, negatively by fear of having its telegraphic supplies cut off, positively by huge sums paid for recruiting advertisements by the English war office. The various Nationalist weeklies had to be dealt with otherwise, as they could neither be bribed nor intimidated. The method adopted was to strike at the printer – to march soldiers with fixed bayonets to the printing offices, dismantle the plant, seize the type and the essential portions of the printing machines, and carry them off to Dublin Castle without offering the smallest compensation to the printer. This was done without any process of law, on the mere arbitrary fiat of the military authorities in Ireland. Seven papers – one daily, one bi-weekly, four weeklies, and one monthly – were suppressed in Dublin by the actual use of this method or by the threat of it. In no case was any prosecution directed against any of the writers or editors of the papers. This was a case in which it was possible to achieve the maximum of suppression with the minimum of publicity.
I have been asked in America “Does not the Defense of the Realm Act, which confers such absolute power on the military authorities, apply to Great Britain as well as to Ireland?” It does; but the application is different. This is well illustrated by what took place in the case of one of the papers suppressed, the “Irish Worker.” After it had been stopped by a military raid on the printing works, the proprietors got it printed in Glasgow. The military authorities did not dare to interfere with the Scottish printers; they simply waited until the copies of the paper arrived in Dublin for distribution, met the boat, and seized every copy.
A similar discrimination is shown in the stoppage of American newspapers from entering Ireland. They are freely admitted into England, – even the “Irish World” and the “Gaelic American,” – but are strictly censored in entering Ireland, and anything containing either news or opinions likely to “excite” the Irish people is not permitted to pass through. As it was put by Mr. P. H. Pearse, headmaster of St. Edna’s secondary school, Rathfarnham, at a meeting last May: “Our isolation from the rest of the world is now almost complete. Our books and papers cannot get out; the books and papers of other nations cannot get in.”
At first the Defense of the Realm Act altogether abolished trial by jury, substituted trial by court-martial for any offense under the Act. Thanks to protests by English constitutional lawyers, the Gov- rrmnent was obliged to modify this, and give to “British subjects” tried under the act the option of claiming trial by jury. But a clause was slipped in, saying, “This shall not apply in the case of offenses tried by summary jurisdiction.” The effect of this is that whenever the military authorities wish to avoid trial by jury, they have only to decide, which they have absolute power to do, that the case shall be tried by “summary jurisdiction”; that is to say, by a paid magistrate, always a mere tool of Dublin Castle, without any jury or any right of appeal to a jury. Only one man charged under the Defense of the Realm Act has been accorded trial by jury in Ireland. The history of his case is instructive.
John Hegarty was a post-office official with long service and an excellent record. When the war broke out he was stationed in Cork. He was ordered, without any accusation being made against him, to leave Cork and take up a position in the postal service in England. He refused, pointing out that his home and friends were in Cork, and that there was no justification for arbitrarily turning him out. The answer of the postal department was to dismiss him from the service without pension or compensation. Immediately thereafter he was ordered by the military authorities to leave the city of Cork. He obeyed, and retreated to a remote spot in the Cork Mountains, in Ballingarry, where he proceeded to support himself by agricultural labour. Within a few weeks the military ordered him to leave the County of Cork, still without making any charge against him or giving him any chance to defend himself in court. He went to Enniscorthy, in the County of Wexford, and stayed with friends there. Last February he was arrested in Enniscorthy, dragged from his bed in the middle of the night, brought to Dublin, detained in a military barracks for a month, then transferred to the civil authorities and allowed trial by jury, but not by an Enniscorthy jury, which would have been his right under the ordinary civil law.
A long series of charges was brought against him, including the writing of seditious notices and the possession of arms, ammunition, and explosives. He was tried three times (between) April and June by three different juries; in each case the Crown and the judge made great efforts to secure a conviction. Two of the juries acquitted him on two different charges, the third disagreed. Then the military authorities sent Major Price to Hegarty in Mountjoy Jail (I was in the same jail at the time, and Hegarty told me the facts in the exercise yard) and offered to release him if he would agree to go to America. Hegarty refused. Then Major Price offered to release him if he would agree to remain in some spot indicated by the military authorities, and never leave it. Hegarty replied that he was willing to go to Ballingarry, from which the military had driven him; and he was finally permitted to return there, after refusing to sign an undertaking that he would not go ten miles from Ballingarry without leave.
One of the facts brought out in the Hegarty trial, which the press, duly intimidated or bribed, did not report, was that for many months no letter or parcel had reached Hegarty without being opened and examined by the secret police while passing through the mails. This process of “Grangerizing” has been carried to a fine art in Ireland; not even in Russia (happily the verb should now read “was”) there a more complete system of espionage on the correspondence of all persons even remotely suspected of disaffection toward the English rule of Ireland. Hegarty’s was the first and last case in which the military authorities gave the option of trial by jury to any prisoner charged under the Defense of the Realm Act. The others were brought before the paid magistrates, and automatically convicted and sentenced. The sentences ranged from a fortnight (which was given to a Dublin boy for kicking a recruiting-poster!) to twelve months, six of them with hard labour, which was my sentence for making a speech “calculated to prejudice recruiting.” I went on hunger strike, and was out in six days, with a license under the Cat and Mouse Act, which renders me liable at any time for the rest of my life to rearrest and imprisonment for the balance of my sentence without further process of trial, a convenient method of getting rid of an opponent.
Trial by jury had failed to get convictions; trial before paid magistrates got convictions, but also gave undesirable publicity. The batch of cases of which mine was one raised a storm not only in Ireland, but in England. In Dublin, meetings of protest were held outside the jail, and placards denouncing the sentences were posted all over the city. Mr. G. Bernard Shaw wrote a letter, declaring that if I deserved six months’ hard labor, Lord Northcliffe deserved about sixty years. Mr. Conal O’Riordan, the distinguished Irish dramatist and novelist, wrote dissociating himself from my point of view, but condemning my sentence; Mr. Robert Lynd, one of the ablest Irish journalists on the London press (literary editor of the “Daily News”) did the same; and the indignation was steadily growing, in range and intensity, throughout the English radical and labor press up to the moment of my release.
One result of this was that the Dublin Castle authorities did not rearrest me under the Cat and Mouse Act, although I had ignored all the conditions of the license as to reporting my movements to the police, and they did not interfere with my departure to America. They made, however, an unsuccessful attempt, through Sir Horace Plunkett, to exact from me a pledge that I would not speak nor write anything against England in the United States. Another result was that even trials by paid magistrates were found to give too much publicity ; accordingly, the next method tried was arbitrary deportation without trial or accusation. This had been adopted, in the form of orders to leave a certain county or district, in many cases besides Hegarty’s, but now a wider extension was given to the method.
In July four organizers of the Irish Volunteers were ordered by the military authorities to leave Ireland within a week. They refused. The military then had to arrest them and try them; but to avoid undesirable publicity, they charged them with disobeying a military order, the grounds for the issue of such an order not being disclosed. The judicial tools of the castle duly sentenced these four men to three and four months’ imprisonment. Even this has not stopped publicity, for the Redmondite party has been stung into protest against this latest arbitrary action, and has demanded through Mr. Joseph Devlin, M. P., that these four men get a new and fair trial, and that the grounds for the deportation order be openly stated at that trial.
Meanwhile O’Donovan Rossa, the old Fenian, has been buried in Dublin with a great display of military force by the Irish Volunteers. The funeral oration, pronounced by Mr. Pearse, was a defiant assertion of Ireland’s unconquerable resolution to achieve independence. Recruiting for the English army, despite all kinds of pressure and advertising languishes, while the recruiting for the Irish Volunteers is so brisk that the headquarters of that body cannot keep pace with it. And when peace comes, Ireland, with the other small nations, will stand at the doors of The Hague conference, and will claim her rights from the community of nations. Shall peace bring freedom to Belgium and Poland, perhaps to Finland and Bohemia, and not to Ireland? Must Irish freedom be gained in blood, or will the comity of nations, led by the United States, shame a weakened England into putting into practice at home the principles which are so loudly trumpeted for the benefit of Germany?
- Plaques of Dublin: Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (via Come Here To Me!)
- Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (via Wikipedia)
- Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (via Ricorso.net)