Letters to the Editor: 'We have been warned about ‘deceitful promises’ and history repeating itself'

In a pamphlet written by William O’Brien in 1921 he traces the responsibility for partition. He was one of eight members of the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) who from 1914 issued warnings to the House of Commons, “raucous with the jeers and derision of Ireland’s own so-called representatives”. I can do no better than repeat from O’Brien’s 10-page foreword the most salient points he made. He starts with a quotation from Bonar Law as the final stages of the partition bill became law. “This will not be the last home rule bill,” which O’Brien describes as “a remarkable predication”.

The cry was then that the move was a purely tactical one, and that partition could never come to anything. Every warning to the contrary was for years derided or was denounced as factionism. In the words of Cardinal Logue we are now “actually no longer in Ireland” by a law which (unlike the feeble Home Rule Act) will be rigorously enforced. O’Brien continues that it “may for the moment horrify the nationalists of Ulster into a full realisation of the politician’s arts by which they allowed themselves to be hypnotised”.

“The panic-stricken and worthy people at the moment of stress raise the feeble-witted cry of peace at any price.”

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The ‘Times’ announced that even in the final stages of the Home Rule Act 1920 (the act which legalised partition), without any appearance of a joke, that Sinn Féin cleared the way by abstaining (Sinn Féin had replaced the IPP in terms of MPs).

O’Brien laments that the speeches warning about legal recognition of Carson’s ‘Orange Free State’ were only available in two or three Munster counties where the ‘Cork Free Press’ circulated. The four speeches were delivered in the presence of the IPP without any attempt to refute them. The first of these warnings was issued in 1914 concerning the proposed severance of the four counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh and Derry before there was any apprehension of World War I, an excuse put forward by Redmond by not using the parliamentary power of collapsing the UK government. It allowed Redmond to seduce 150,000 Irish men to fight and 50,000 to die for home rule.

O’Brien points out that no Irish leader from Grattan to O’Connell to Parnell was ever in such a strong position and yet the leadership of Redmond even forbade any discussion of the subject of exercising its power.

It allowed the Liberal government to put together a coalition which included ‘Carson the gun runner’, elected on the ruins of the IPP which was now the most “powerless item in the service of the coalition”. This allowed party unity (IPP) to be the destruction of national unity.

“The mass of quiet citizens allowed themselves to be persuaded that the sure and instant triumph for home rule was a blind faith in the deceitful promises poured into their ears by the party orators and the party press, and the excommunication as a traitor of any man who should intimate the most modest dissent.” O’Brien’s four speeches are worthy of republishing in the light of the dangers to the Good Friday Agreement. History does repeat itself.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

UK once again lives up to Perfidious Albion moniker

The Great British backstop backstab. ‘Perfidious Albion’ strikes again.

One must only look to the definition of the aforementioned moniker of the UK to fully appreciate the extent to which its alleged historical attributes have once again come to the fore when considering how its government can now wilfully renege on its own promises of preventing a hard Border in Ireland and of honouring its internationally binding commitments to preserving peace in Northern Ireland.

And I quote: “Perfidious Albion is a pejorative phrase used within the context of international relations and diplomacy to refer to alleged acts of diplomatic sleights, duplicity, treachery and hence infidelity (with respect to perceived promises made to, or alliances formed with, other nation states) by governments of the UK in their pursuit of self-interest.”

How telling it is then that history should once again repeat itself.

Michael Mac Sweeney

Ennis, Co Clare

Let Brexiteers see just how chaotic no deal would be

The UK should exit without a deal on March 29. The chaos that would follow would be unprecedented.

The FTSE and sterling would no doubt take a hit and this, coupled with congestion at Dover and Calais, would bring home how unworkable Brexit is.

The harsh reality is that we are all losers in this mess, however Rees-Mogg, Johnson, Farage and co would finally own the mess and the never-ending chaos that would ensue, whereas all along they have been barking, Britannia-rules-the-waves underdogs.

The European Court of Justice could step in with an offer after a month or so and give the UK parliament a choice, revoke Article 50 or continue on the path you have chosen.

Revoking Article 50 after March 29 would give the UK a get-out-of-jail card, ie. a second chance.

Maybe the UK parliament needs to see first-hand how unworkable Brexit is in practice, before it would decide to revoke Article 50 and this would naturally give all MPs a sort of moral cover in deciding to revoke Article 50.

Kieran O’Regan

Dublin 9

St Patrick’s Day junkets serve up feast of hypocrisy

IF OUR Government is so intent on sterilising society of anything religious that may offend, then let’s cancel St Patrick’s Day and the expensive annual junkets of our ministers and entourage travelling the world on a Catholic feast day.

Their strive for pluralism should not be marred by hypocrisy.

Robert Bogue

Drogheda, Co Louth

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