ON THIS DATE (18TH APRIL) 69 YEARS AGO – UP THE REPUBLIC..
..UP THE YARD, THAT IS!
Not that this (or this) couldn’t happen in a proper ‘Republic’, just that instances like that happen here, in this failed ‘Republic’, as a matter of course, and make the headlines on the day but are quickly pushed aside by the next tragedy. And talking of tragedies, that’s what’s being ‘celebrated’ today, the 18th April : the tragedy, that is, that this failed State has been misconstrued as a ‘Republic’, and is being honoured, by some, as such, in the same manner that that same mistake was made on the day itself :
‘At midnight last night the twenty-six counties officially left the British Commonwealth and cut the last constitutional link with Britain. The description of the state from that moment became the Republic of Ireland.
The birth of the new Republic was welcomed throughout the country in celebrations centred on Dublin, where a 21-gun salute was fired from O’Connell Bridge..at 11.45pm, as blazing tar barrels on the Dublin hills could be seen in the city centre, O’Connell street became a blaze of light from searchlight batteries ringing the city. A few minutes after midnight the salute from the guns began, with ten-second intervals between the rounds…men, women and children shouted “Up the Republic,” while groups of young people with accordions and other musical instruments joined in singing national airs…and dancing continued until early this morning.
At one minute past midnight Radio Éireann broadcast this statement: “These are the first moments of Easter Monday, April 18th, 1949. Since midnight, for the first time in history, international recognition has been accorded to the Republic of Ireland. Our listeners will join us in asking God’s blessing on the Republic, and in praying that it will not be long until the sovereignty of the Republic extends over *the whole of our national territory” (from here : * possibly the last time that RTE publicly acknowledged, unashamedly, that “our national territory” includes the Occupied Six Counties!).
Seems straight-forward enough but, as with most things in this ‘republic’, that’s not the case : what happened in 1949 was, according to those who profess to know better*, simply a legal exercise to tidy up loose ends by declaring that the word ‘Éire’ implied that the area known as such is the ‘Republic of Ireland’ even though that area ie ‘Éire’ was itself never recognised as a ‘Republic’. So, it is being argued, the name change was a translation only and is not established as a fact in legal circles. Some ‘experts’ (but not all of them!) are of the opinion that this State ‘became a republic’ twelve years previous to the above (ie 1937) when ‘Bunreacht na hÉireann’ was enacted (29th December that year). If you think that’s confusing, you should try living here.
Anyway – for our part, we’re not so much interested in when exactly this gombeen Free State was ‘born’ as we are in regards to when it will be buried, and a proper country replaces it.
”SINN FÉIN IS EVERYTHING ITS NAME IMPLIES – GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE….!’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.
When an All-Ireland Parliament is once more assembled and the framework of cvil administration set up, it is to be expected that all the force and energy of the British Empire will be unleashed against it, bounded only by whatever international political considerations are involved.
As Britain has the ear of the world, she will lose no time in calumniating and damning the Irish cause, as she does today in other territories under her control. For a while at any rate, things may go hard with us until we succeed in countering her false presentation of our case. That will be the testing time for us.
But surely there are none so naive as to imagine that Britain will easily relinquish her stranglehold on this country? (Next – ‘THE RIGHT MEN’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (18TH APRIL) 100 YEARS AGO – CONSCRIPTION ; ‘THE BLOOD VOTE’.
“Why is your face so white, Mother?
Why do you choke for breath?”
“O I have dreamt in the night, my son
That I doomed a man to death.”
“Why do you hide your hand, Mother?
And crouch above it in dread?”
“It beareth a dreadful branch, my son
With the dead man’s blood ’tis red…” (from here.)
In 1916, as Westminster was ‘putting down’ the Irish for daring to challenge its misrule in Ireland, it found itself under ‘attack’ on another front – a shortage of military manpower with which to enforce the ‘writ’ of its ’empire’ on a global scale, and the ‘solution’ it arrived at, in its arrogance, was to introduce conscription on what the ’empire’ called its ‘mainland’ – Britain. But even that Act didn’t supply enough ‘cannon fodder’ (overall, about 18 million soldiers died and more than 20 million were incapacitated during that conflict) and, two years later, the criteria of those to be conscripted was ‘relaxed’, meaning that those who ‘failed to qualify’ in round one now found themselves to be suitable material.
But that wasn’t the only change made – there still wasn’t enough ‘trench filling’ so the British announced that the Irish were to be paid a visit in regards to being given the opportunity (!) to ‘serve their empire’ and, on the 16th April 1918, conscription was extended to this country (the British ‘Military Service Act’ was amended to include this country). An unintended consequence of insisting that the Irish, too, must be allowed to die ‘for their empire’ was the common ground found between the ‘Irish Volunteers’, Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, the ‘Irish Party’, the trade union movement and the religious orders, all of whom were, among other groups, opposed to that ‘offer’ from Westminster and, on the 18th April 1918 – 100 years ago on this date – that opposition was shown to have a loud and popular voice by way of a packed meeting held in the Mansion House, in Dublin, organised by the newly-formed ‘Irish Anti-Conscription Committee’, which attracted about 1,500 people.
The then Westminster-appointed ‘Chief Secretary for Ireland’, Henry Edward Duke (aka ‘the 1st Baron Merrivale’) knew that the Irish were not going to go quietly into the trenches, if at all, and contacted his betters in Whitehall and told them that “…it will be impossible in the teeth of the opposition of bishops and politicians to enforce conscription..implementing the measure in the face of such opposition would require more men than would be conscripted..” – that was in early April 1918 ; he was removed from his job during the first week of May but, by the middle of June that same year, those that had removed him and, indeed, their political bosses in Westminster and Whitehall, realised that he was right and abandoned their intention to force conscription in Ireland.
Incidentally, membership of the IRA increased as a result of the Irish conscription order, but the downside of accepting ‘new republicans’ into the fold, simply because those new members were opposed to conscription, was recognised by some in the Movement, at the time, but not, unfortunately, by all : ‘When the British Government introduced ‘The Conscription Bill’ on 16th April 1918, recruits flocked to the IRA – the people were scared. But people have short memories. It was merely a temporary hosting, like that of King Wire’s donkey. King Wire was an expert manufacturer of wire goods – muzzles, strainers and the like, who attended every horse fair in the south of Ireland. While he walked through the throng of people and horses, he worked unceasingly with hands and pliers on the roll of wire slung over one shoulder.
When his feet stopped he bought donkeys. Thus while his eyes surveyed his prospective purchase, and his tongue got busy to bargain with a fine humour, his hands never rested. No donkey on the market went home unsold. All went into his carelessly-kept herd. One evening in Macroom I remarked to him : “You have a big stock today, King.” “Most of those will have departed by morning,” he replied..’ (from this book.) Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer until we’re reading about another ‘departure’, or do some in this country still need to be conscripted by the British before they act to defend themselves?
“TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED…”
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, February 1955.
SINN FÉIN NOTES.
Fifteen new Cumann have been formed in Cork, Galway, Laoghise, Tyrone, Monaghan, Waterford, Dublin and London since the Ard Fheis in November last.
Lectures, ceilidhes and concerts were held by many Cumainn throughout the country to commemorate the establishment of the First Dáil Éireann on Friday 21st January 1919.
The Austin Stack Cumann held a very successful film show and lecture in their rooms at 64 Mountjoy Square in Dublin, early in January. The lecture was given by Tomás Ó Dubhgaill, Vice President, and that Cumann holds a very successful ceilidhe in their rooms every Sunday night at 8pm.
Tomás Ó Dubhgaill also gave a lecture at the Seán Misteal Cumann concert which was held in the O’Connell Hall in Dublin on Friday 21st January last. Frank McCann of the Seán Doran Cumann in Camlough, Armagh, is now serving a month’s imprisonment in Crumlin Jail, Belfast, for having collected at the chapel gate for the Sinn Féin National Collection. (Next – ‘PUBLIC MEETINGS / NORTHERN ELECTION COMMITTEES’, from the same source).
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…
SIN SCÉAL EILE.
By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.
DID WE WIN?
Sometime near the end of 1975, education lectures were about to take a radical change in the cages of Long Kesh. The canteen in Cage 11 was set up to accommodate the three teams who were going to have a debate in front of the entire inhabitants of the cage. The idea was initiated by the Cage OC and organised by the cage education officer primarily to create opportunities for the young republican activists and the not-so-young gathered there to open up their eyes and minds to the political struggle that put them there in the first place.
Education was taken very seriously in the cage and every effort was used to make the lectures and debates not only educational but also relevant and interesting ; the idea was that nine volunteers of Cage 11 would split up into teams of three and pretend to represent Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Republican Clubs.
The teams were picked with the most politically aware pretending to be the Republican Clubs, as their argument was the weakest. The fairly politically aware were the SDLP, who were looked upon as sycophants, and anything they achieved was achieved on someone else’s back. Finally, those comrades who lay on their backs most of the day feeling sorry for themselves were Sinn Féin , who at the time were thought to be mostly living in Dublin. (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.