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of the causa of Britain's enemiei, and even offer c6-operation and assist-
ance. Having regard to their past conduct it is difficult to believe tiiat
they would act differently in fatur«.



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THE IRISH HOME RULE QUESTION 261

Bill was rejected, and Lord Dunraven's scheme of Devolution
was not accepted. What, then, of the two Home Bills ? Mr.
Redmond has quoted Parnell's description of the former as ** an
instalment of our rights,*'* and of the latter he has him-
self said, " No man in his senses would regard it as a full,
a final, or a satisfactory settlement of the Irish Nationalist
question."! The word "provisional," he added, had been
stamped in red ink across every page. It might be urged
that Mr. Redmond's views had recently undergone a change,
and that he and his party are now prepared to accept what
they previously rejected ; but he denies that Irish Nationalist
opinion has undergone any change. :[ The chief argument
in favour of the two former Home Rule Bills disappears,
for on Mr. Redmond's own showing they will result in no
settlement. The Gladstonian plan does not go far enough,
and there is need of a greater surrender. But from a greater
surrender the Coalition Ministry may perhaps shrink.

The Doctrine op Nationality.

The reason the Gladstonian plan failed to be regarded as
a settlement is not far to seek. It lies in the fact that
the Irish Nationalist demand is based upon nationality.
"Ireland a nation once again" is the hope of the future, and
all Liberal plans fail as a full settlement, because they set up
in Dublin a legislature which is subordinat-e to, and the creation

* ** I remember when Parnell was asked whether he would, on behalf of
the United Nationalist nation that he represented, accept as a final settle-
ment the Home Bule compromise proposed by Gladstone. I remember
his answer. He said, ' I believe in the policy of taking from England any-
thing we can wring from her which will strengthen our arms to go on for
more. I will accept the Home Bule compromise of Gladstone as an instal-
ment of our rights, but I refuse to say that it is a final settlement of the
national question, and I declare that no man shaU set a boundary on the
onward march of the nation.* That is our motto " (Mr. John Bedmond,
M.P., at Newry, June 16, 1897).

t House of Commons, August 30, 1898.

X "1 stand on the question of Home Bule precisely where PameU stood.
I have not receded, and never will recede an inch, from the position
he took up '* (interview in Chicago, Cork Exammer, October 19, 1910).



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262 CURRENT POLITICAL PROBLEMS

of, the Imperial Parliament at Westminster. This is only a
step towards the recognition of Irish "nationality." Full
recognition would be accompanied by a definite act of renunci-
ation on the part of the Imperial Parliament of any right
of control over, or interference with, internal and external Irish
affairs.

A Qualified Aooeptanob.

Since no Irish Nationalist supposes that Great Britain would
consent to so complete a surrender a smaller concession is
suggested. The proposed Home Rule Parliament would at
any rate be a recognition of the principle, though in a restricted
form, and it would afford the Irish Nationalists a firm base for
future operations. Although Irish Nationalists under Liberal
influence are other than frank and open in their speeches be-
fore British audiences, even posing as Imperialists,^^ they have
to be, and are, refreshingly outspoken in the United States.
The feeling of hatred against Great Britain is strong among
Irish-Americans, who are somewhat contemptuous of the
** constitutional movement," the efficacy of which they doubt.
Hence Irish Nationalists on tour in the United States boast of
what they have made the Imperial Parliament do for Ireland,
and complain in Great Britain that Ireland cannot obtain the
reforms so necessary for her prosperity until Home Rule is
granted.! Proofs of the work they have accomplished are very
necessary in the United States, for without the financial assist-
ance of the Irish- Americans the pfkrty would be bankrupt. |

* ** Whose Empire is this ? Yours ? Ko ; it is ours as well as yours.
. . . We, as Irishmen, are not prepared to surrender our share in the
heritage which our lathers created*' (Mr. John Bedmond, M.P., at
Woodford, May 27, 1911).

t Cf. Mr. John Bedmond's speech at Detroit {Irish World, Novembers,
1910), putting before his audience " in plain, business-like language what
the last ten years has accomplished for Ireland," with the terms of
the Home Bule resolution in the House of Commons on March SO, 1906,
that the present system of Irish Qovemment <* is incapable of satisfactorily
promoting the material and intellectual progress of the people."

{ *' The Irish National Party would have been bankrupt in this election
were it not (or the sucoess of his [Mr. T. P. O'Connor's] mission"
(Mip. John Bedmond, l^LP., in Dublin, February 10, 1910.)



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THE IRISH HOME RULE QUESTION 263

But such aid is not given to make Ireland a loyal constituent
of the British Empire, but a ** nation/' for, although the way be
long, that is the ultimate goal. Members of the Irish Nationa-
list Party have time and again explained their tactics, and assured
their Irish-American audiences that the final object to be
attained is ''separation.'*"^

It is well understood by Irish-Americans that references to
the glories of the British Empire, apparent acceptance of a
restricted Home Rule Bill, promises of future loyalty and con-
tentment, are part of the game of deluding the " Saxon swine,"
as the Irish Nationalist song has it, into granting Home Rule.

If Irish-Americans thought otherwise there would be no
subscriptions, and the present leaders of the Nationalist Party
would be swept away, to be replaced by men who would act
up to the old ideal of Separation.

The calculating British mind rejects Separation as imprac-
ticable, and assumes that Irish Nationalists will never be so
foolish as to reject the material advantages of the connection
with Great Britain for the sake of the ideal of Irish nationality.
So far as many of the rank and file are concerned there may
be ground for this feeling, for Home Rule never gained popular
strength until it was linked with agrarian agitation. The land
question having been settled in more than one-half of Ireland,
and being in a fair way toward settlement over the rest of the
country, one great argument for Home Rule has disappeared.!

* ** When equipped with oomparative freedom then would be the time
for those who think we should destroy the last link that binds us to
England to operate by whatever means they think best to achieve
that great and desirable end. I am quite sure I speak for the United Irish
League on this matter '' (Mr. Joe Devlin, M.P., New York, Jane, 1902).

<• The message we bear is from the iliustrious leader of our purty, John
Bedmond. If there is any man who says to us as representing that
parliamentary movement, * I don't believe in your parliamentary ideas, I
don't accept Home Bule, I go beyond it. I believe in an independent
nation,' if any man says this, I say that we don't disbelieve in it. These
are our tactics ; and if you are to take a fortress first take the outer works *'
(Prof. £ettle,New York, November, 1906).

t Other remedial legislation and administration is removing many
legitimate grievances, and lessening the force of former arguments for
Home Bule.



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264 CURRENT POLITICAL PROBLEMS

Bat although it may be assumed that the desire for Home
Rule is weakened as a result, the question has not been put
to the proof, and the Irish Nationalist leaders do not admit
that any change has occurred in the opinions of their followers.
Material improvement they agree has been made in Irish
conditions ; but they deny that any lasting settlement can be
effected until Home Rule has been granted.'*' They declare
the spirit of nationaUty to be so strong that Irishmen would
abandon all the material advantages which the present
connection with Great Britain brings for a measure of national
independence.!

These may be platform heroics, but they are the declara-
tions of the accepted leader of the Irish Home Rule Party.
Their accuracy may be doubted ; but so long as Mr. Redmond
is regarded as the spokesman of Irish Home Rule they must
be accepted. Since he advances the doctrine of nationality
as the real argument for Home Rule,t the ultimate aim must
be separation and independence; nothing less can satisfy
the ideal, ''Ireland a nation once again«"



* ** Without freedom, aU these great concessions are practically value-
less, or, at any rate, such value as they possess is to be found in the fact
that they strengthen the arm of the Irish people, and push on to the great
goal of national independence " (Mr. John Redmond, M.P., at the Buffalo
Convention, Freeman* 8 Journal, October 13, 1910).

t "But the soul of this Irish movement has been the spirit of
nationality. Ireland would prefer rags and poverty rather than to
surrender her national spirit" (Mr. John Bedmond, M.P., at Buffalo,
Freeman^s Journal^ October 13, 1910).

I All other arguments for Home Bule are subordinate to the argument
of nationality. This was recognised by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman,
who said, *' Good government could never be a substitute for government
by the people themselves ** (Stirling, November 23, 1905). His words are
constantly quoted with approval by Irish Nationalists. Liberals assume
that this policy applies only to domestic afiairs, such as education, land,
&o. ; but no country possesses real self-government unless it is at liberty
to conduct its own foreign policy, make its own treaties, provide its own
means of defence, and control its own customs. Not to grant these
powers is to deny nationality. A claim for self-government based upon
nationality cannot be satisfied with less than independence in all matters,
internal and external.



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THE IRISH HOME RULE QUESTION 265

False Analogies.

All schemes of Home Rule which involve the maintenance
of connection with, or control, by Great Britain consequently
fail to satisfy the Nationalist demand. To describe Home
Rule as an extension to Ireland of our system of Colonial
self-government is entirely without justification. No British
dominion ever received self-government on the ground that it
had the right to be regarded as a separate nation. The grant
in such cases was dictated by geographical reasons, distance
from Westminster making representation in Parliament from
the Colonies an impossibility. But this condition does not
apply to Ireland. To advocate Irish, from the analogy of
Imperial, Home Rule is no more than a specious attempt to
gain support for an unpopular policy by ascribing to it
attributes, which it does not possess.

It is in the same way altogether absurd to compare Irish
Home Rule with the federation of our self-governing
dominions. The legislatures of these federal systems have
no national attributes, but are subordinate to the central
Parliament, and subject to its control. The object of their
establishment is good government and not self-government."^

Irish Home Rule cannot be comj)ared with the federal
systems of the British Empire, since the latter imply no
recognition of the principle of nationality. But it is perfectly
possible to have a federal system consisting of a number of
nationalities, who mutually agree among themselves to estab-
lish a central Parliament for the whole group, with local
legislatures for the different constituent parts. In this case

* Mr. T. P. O'Connor, M.P., is the only prominent Nationalist who has
identified the Nationalist demand with provincial Home Bule. In Ganada
he expressed approval <* of a federal scheme of government for the British
Isles, such as the Provinces of Ganada enjoy under a central (Government ^'
(Ottawa, Octoher 4, 1910). A year before he was talking advanced
Nationalism in the United States, and his sndden conversion is unex-
plained. That his speeches cannot be regarded as anthoritative may he
gathered from the fact that no Nationalist leader has ever thought it
necessary to support or repudiate them, and the mere report that Mr.
Redmond was expressing the same views led to specific denials from his
colleagues and himself.



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266 CURRENT POLITICAL PROBLEMS

the negotiatioiis are oonduoted by the various nationalities on
terms of equality, and no one surrenders its own individuality
but merely agrees for good and sufficient reasons to merge its
separate existence into a joint system. By an express pro-
vision in the Constitution or by the demand of its own
nationals it could resume its existence as a separate and
independent nation.

Sbpabation must bb Faobd.

The very fact that Irish Home Bulers insist upon the recog-
nition of Irish nationality shows that they have this situation
in their minds. They must negotiate with the Imperial Par-
liament upon terms of equality, though conditions may exist
at any particular juncture, which make it unwise for them to
insist at once upon a complete recognition of their rights.
They may accept a Liberal Home Bule Bill as an instalment
of their claim, but they would expressly or mentally reserve to
themselves the right to dissolve the partnership whenever
renunciation appeared to be advantageous to their cause.
Consequently no Home Bule Bill on Gladstonian lines could
be regarded as a final settlement of the question, unless it
were accompanied by a solemn renunciation of nationality on
the part of the Irish Home Bulers.*

Without such renunciation the right to claim nationality
could be exercised at any time, and the Home Bule question
would on such occasions be reopened in a critical form. The
danger is not imaginary. On the contrary, the Irish Home
Rulers have openly declared that they intend at some future
date to claim independence.!

Since, however, the only argument for Home Bule which

* Mr. Bedmond, it U true, would give the Imperial Parliament an
« over-riding authority." But this is not, as might be supposed, a
renunciation of nationality, for the Irish Nationalists would still be
represented at Westminster. Besides, Mr. Bedmond in 1892 required in
the Home Bule Bill ** a clause specifically imdertaking that while the
Irish Parliament continued in existence the powers of the Imperial Par-
liament to legislate for Ireland should never be used " (House of Gommons,
August 8, 1892).

t See footnote, p. 268.



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THE IRISH HOME RULE QUESTION 267

can appeal to Great Britain is that a settlement is desirable,
and since a final settlement cannot be obtained with less than
the grant of independence, Great Britain has to face[the qaes«
tion of acceding to separation, if not immediately, at any rate
in the future, as a logical development of the^grant of Home
Rule. But separation is declared even by Home Rulers,
whether or not upon a deliberate judgment on the^issues, to
be "tmthinkable";''' and, indeed, no one can deny that an
independent Ireland would most prejudicially afifect our
standing in world-politics, and enormously increase the burden
of our defensive armaments. So little should we be in a
position to allow separation, that we should be compelled^
for the sake of our national existence, to regain control of
Ireland by force of arms. In short, the belief of Unionists
in Great Britain in respect of Home Rule is, that the grant of
even a moderate measure of self-government would only be a
first step towards a demand for separation, to which they
not only could not accede, but which they must resist, if
necessary by force.

Unionist Poliot not Nbgativb.

This attitude does not preclude the recognition by Unionists
of Irish grievances, and the adoption of the measures
necessary for their removal, and the passing of such measures
implies no admission of the justice of the demand for Home
Rule, but only the recognition of the position of Ireland as a
partner in the great British firm. If the right of Ireland to
govern herself were recognised, Unionists might let her work
out her own salvation. As, however, they regard the sister
island only as an integral part of the United Edngdom, they,
are willing to take steps to improve her economic condition,
just as they would in such circumstances that of England,
Wales, and Scotland. Although Unionism ofiers an uncom-
promising negative to any recognition of the justice of the
demand for Home Rule, Unionist policy has produced an
improvement in Irish conditions, to participation in which
Nationalififm and Liberalism have no claim. The reason is no
* Mr. Lloyd George, M.P., at BeUatt, February 8, 1907.



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268 CURRENT POLITICAL PROBLEMS

far to seek. It is the declared policy of the Nationalists that
Home Rule alone can bring prosperity to Ireland ; while
Liberalism has placed Home Rule in the forefront of its Irish
policy, and necessarily devotes all the attention it can give to
Irish affairs to effecting this constitutional change. Unionism
being without this all-absorbing preoccupation is free to devote
its energies to economic legislation and administration. It is
therefore by no means matter for astonishment that such
amelioration as has been effected in Irish economic and
administrative conditions is due to Unionist action.

Land Rbfobm and Development.

This is conspicuously the case with the settlement of the
question of questions, that of the land. The Liberal Acts
were failures so far as a settlement was concerned. Attempt-
ing as a main principle to alter the relations between landlord
and tenant, while preserving the existing system, they have
been productive chiefly of litigation and bad husbandry. As
they put forward land purchase only as a subsidiary policy,
their proposals were naturally attended by little success. On
the other hand, the Unionist Party, realising that the discon-
tent would only be ended by an entire change of proprietor-
ship, boldly adopted this policy,"^ with the result that the old
quarrel between landlord and tenant is practically dead.t

Concurrently with the development of land purchase the
Unionists have carried out a programme of economic develop-
ment. In some parts of the country the latter policy has
been enforced by wholly State agency, but the activities of
private individuals, never wholly absent, have in recent years
assumed greater prominence. The doctrine of *' self-help"
which teaches Irishmen to work out their own economic

* The Ashbourne Acts, 1885 and 1888, the Land Act of 1896, and the
Wyndham Act of 1903, were all Unionist measures devoted to land
purchase.

t Where agrarian disorder now exists it is not generaUy a dispute
between the large landowner and his tenants, but between the farmer
and men who want his land. The farmers, no doubt, are often owners,
but of a different class from those against whom the agrarian agitation
was originally directed.



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THE IRISH HOME RULE QUESTION 269

salvation is being learned by degrees, to the disgust of the
Home Rulers, who would make everything dependent upon
the adoption of their own panacea.

The earliest incident in the programme of economic develop-
ment was the establishment of the Congested Districts Board
in 1891, which was followed by the creation, in 1899, of the
Department of Agriculture, and both Board and Department
have triumphantly emerged from official inquiries into their
administrative record.*

The Irish congested district presented a picture of hopeless
poverty, agricultural ignorance, and individual apathy, before
which any administrator might despair. At the beginning it
was necessary to exercise a paternal supervision over those
whose condition the Board sought to improve. " Spoon-
feeding" was essential; and although that phase has not
entirely passed away, the Board has now been able to divert
its energies towards the establishment of a gigantic scheme of
land settlement in the West of Ireland.! Later came the
Department of Agriculture, designed to teach Irishmen the
principles of that industry, | which had succeeded in effecting
a revolution in many rural districts, and in making the new land-
owners appreciate the responsibilities of their novel position.

Outside the direct action of the State other organisations
have been established to teach Irishmen the doctrine of
"self-help," the best known of which is the Irish Agricul-
tural Organisation Society, possessed, with its kindred associa-
tions, of over 91,000 members and boasting an annual turnover
of nearly £2,400,000. § This society teaches the value of

• The Dudley Commission was appointed in 1906 to report upon the
operations of the Congested Districts Board, and its relations with the
Department of Agricoltare, &o. Its final report was issued in 1908
(Cd. 4097). A Departmental Committee inquired into the working of the
Department jof Agriculture, and reported in 1907 (Cd. 3572).

f By the Land Act, 1909. See also Beport of Dudley Commission
(Cd. 4097).

I The Department was estahlished as the result of a conference of all
parties known as the **Bece83*' Committee, which met in the parlia-
mentary ** Becess " of 1895.

I ^Annual Beport, 1910. Appendix Q. xi.



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270 C5URRENT POLITICAL PROBLEMS

oo-operation among farmers and agrionlturists. A later
movement, more particularly affecting Irish manufacturers, is
that of the Industrial Development Associations, which have
been established in order to interest the Irish people, by
means of exhibitions and other methods of advertisement, in
articles of Irish manufacture, and to persuade them to buy
Irish, in preference to foreign-made, goods. So successful
have these movements been, that they have gained the support
of all parties, irrespective of politics. They are chiefly remark-
able, however, as practical and unequivocal evidence of a
repudiation of the Nationalist theory that Home Rule comes
first, and that there can be no real progress in Ireland until it
is i|ecured.

Nationalist Attitude Towabdb "Selp-hblp."

So far as the Irish Parliamentary Party is concerned the
new spirit of self-reliance, developed by Unionist administra-
tion, has bad an unfortunate effect upon its condition. Living
as it does upon agitation, and flourishing only when Ireland
is discontented, its influence has sensibly diminished with
the increase of prosperity and contentment, and the Irish
farmer, now the owner of his land, ceases to contribute
towards agitation. He has gained his hearths desire; he is
satisfied; and appeals for financial aid to keep the Irish
Nationalists at Westminster fall on deaf ears. Rather
does growing appreciation of the root facts of industrial
economics make him doubt whether Home Rule is after all
going to be a good thing for his country. It would be an
exaggeration to say that he is openly hostile, but he is
apathetic ; and his novel attitude shows itself in his refusal to
support the Nationalist Party, as he did in the past.

The Dakqeb of Extbemeb Measubes.

The result has been to force the Irish Nationalists into a
position of financial dependence upon the Irish- Americans in
the United States, and this is in a sense a possible source of
danger to the United Kingdom, to which the Irish-Americans
have always shown hostility. The constitutional move-



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THE IRISH HOME RULE QUESTION 271

ment for Home Rule has never satisfied^them, and at the
most they have only agreed to give it a trial, reserving to
themselves perfect freedom to advocate and support a more
forcible and strenuous policy, whenever conditions arose which
made such action possible. Now that the very existence of
the Irish Nationalist Party depends upon][their pecuniary aid,
is it at all improbable that they will seek^to^influence or even
direct its policy? A revival of the policy ^of ^violence and
outrage and the promotion of discontent in Ireland are the
obvious lines they would follow, but whether the" now more
enlightened Irish people would tolerate another "plan of
campaign," with its notorious methods, can only be a matter
for speculation. Nothing more contrary to the real interests
of Ireland could occur than a renewal of the^devastating agita-
tion of the "eighties." It is said by Liberal Home Rulers
that the Ireland of our time is a very different country from
the Ireland of those days, and that is so in a large measure,



Online LibraryJohn David ReesCurrent political problems → online text (page 25 of 40)