06/03/2021 The following is first installment of an opinion piece by Irish Socialist Republican, Seán Doyle
This is a 3-part article, slightly exploring and researching and taking a glimpse through our turbulent history over more than a century. Looking at the forces of counter revolution, lining up and eventually adding the final crucial component necessary for their final phase, the annihilation of revolutionary opposition.
The most sought moral authority of the catholic church, which I must state was of mutual benefit to both, in continuance of their dominance in their respective objectives. Excuse the pun, a match made in heaven to condemn revolutionaries to hell.
They have a long history of twinning, the catholic church always accepts the established order, as it did in 1798, 1848 and 1867, one notable example in 1847 when the potatoes, the most stable part of people’s diet, rotted in the ground from blight. People were hungry, but the blight and disease of greed was never so evident. The native capitalists and their imperial master over lords prioritising profit and market share superseded. They were deaf to the wailing cries of starvation bellowing from dying people. They shipped enough food out of the country to feed 6 times the population, as they carted past on route to the ports, while people were dying by the roadside and in ditches.
People tried to organise through the Land League, they suggested that families should feed themselves first and then pay a reasonable rent to absentee land lords, but the bishops intervened and preached off every alter throughout the country that people must pay their rent to save their immortal souls. Continuing to understand, after centuries of history and betrayal, not just in our country but every where the British occupied, how they divided and conquered, the methods and ploys dividing countries, not alone the forces of opposition, can you believe, offering a devolved, subordinate, 2 state option. One was to be called Northern Ireland and the other, the 26-county dominion, giving an oath of allegiance to the King of England. Even more unbelievable, the signing and sanctioning of the treaty in the so-called Free State. In effect, a British administration, both politically and militarily, Irish men wearing Irish uniforms and enforcing British rule, martial law and executions that put the British executions of 1916 into the shadows.
I hope from this introduction you will get a grasp of the challenges faced by our forebearers struggle for liberation. The best example and description of our monumental struggle, I would gladly concede to that great orator and true Irish revolutionary Roger Casement, a small extract from his speech at the dock before his execution. “Ireland, but if they dare to lay down their lives on their native soil, if they dare to dream, even that freedom can be won, only at home, by men resolved to fight for it there, then they are traitors to their country and their dreams and their deaths alike are phases of a dishonourable fantasy”.
Revolutionaries of today must be absolute in their conviction as much as those at any time in our history. It is important that we stand firm in the full recognition of the Republic. Many who gave their lives for what will never be realised, through the puppet administrations created by the British North and South who’spurpose was to invite engagement to work their institutions under their control, and circumvent future revolutionary thinking in electoral dependency. I will elaborate on this point later in the article.
Our history is testimony to this British ploy, all colonial powers have done so, and the British have always exploited native political opportunists to divide and conquer. Sad to say our country, so dear to many, was sold out cheaply by the money class and the treat of a terrible war on the rest. After the 1918 General Election and the 1919 democratic program were declared illegal and last sat in public on the 10th of May 1919. The British introduced martial law and murder sanctioned by Whitehall, Lloyd George and Churchill during the War of Independence. The truce followed in July, signing the Treaty in December, the British called another General Election for May 1921, remember, the government of Ireland Act 1920 to divide the 6 counties, the parliament to be officially opened by King George in June 1921, this provided as decreed by the British, the establishment of 2 subordinate home rule parliaments.
Partition antedated the Free State and the counter revolution. Partition was decided by the British, it’s origin lay in the Government of Ireland Act passed by the Westminsterparliament in December 1920. The British called a general election on the 24th of May 1921, North and South. It was the first General Election in so-called Northern Ireland. James Craig, became Northern Irelands first Prime Minister on the 7th of June, more than a month before the truce it sat for the first time. Coinciding with the ending of the so-called Anglo-Irish War.
Talks between Dublin and London began in October and concluded in December with the delegation signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The official opening of the 6-county parliament by King George in June. So, you can see the Dáildelegation in the Anglo-Irish Treaty were unable during the course of the British, draft a treaty so-called negotiation to raise, or for that matter undo what had been already done. Ostensibly to negotiate was not on the table for a united Ireland. Before they attended the treaty talks, they were aware of the fact that the British were only offering dominion status to the 26 counties. Also, under the government of Ireland Act 1920, under articles 11 and 12, gave the so-called parliament of Northern Ireland the right to opt out of the Irish Free state, giving the Unionists a power of veto which they still have today.
Why, with the knowledge of the afore mentioned, did any merit or sense be attributed to compliance with a British called and sanctioned General Election. What was the logic behind this thinking, a means of electing a second Dáil? Why? The situation had changed considerably, there is no comparison with the first. We established the Dáil and declared a democratic Republic with a mandate from the people to go to the Paris Peace Conference, to make our case with other small nations, for our right to be independent of our colonial British occupation. This is and always will be our position. Even though the British applauded themselves on keeping us out of the talks, unfortunately it proved not hard to pursued Woodrow Wilson of their joint interests as dominant world powers. Not withstanding Irish support and finance within America, we were marginalised as a British domestic issue. Secondly, this time around we were compliant with our country divided if we participated. Also, the knowledge of the British prepared treaty, with the treat of war if we did not accept, as it had been signed in December, it had to be passed by the future Free Staters. Followed by the British/Irish constitution.
This puppet administration, British created, must be seen for what it is and dismantled so we may live and reclaim our right as an independent sovereign nation denied for centuries. James Connolly summed it up so well, even though he said it over 100 years ago, his predictions have proven right in the past and to the present day “The Irish parliamentarians met the British politicians on their own chosen field of battle and lost every move of the game. Every time the astuteBritish politicians call for a sacrifice on the part of the Irish Home Rule Party, that party yielded the point, and sacrificed their principles. They yielded to sacrifice Ulster and divide their country, they yielded control of taxation, they yielded control over the post office, customs and excise, in short they yielded everything that gives life and power to a nation and finally when their grandest opportunity came in the breath of war, they yielded up countless thousands of lives of their trusting fellow country men and in return they achieved nothing”.
Our history has unfolded ever since, even worse than Connolly has so well captured, with the 6 counties divided and under Unionist domination, backed by the Tories, the fate of the Nationalist Catholic population was grim. Sectarianism by loyalists in their own orange state and a police force to enforce it. But further exacerbation by the introduction of a savage special powers bill, granting the Northern Minister of Home Affairs virtually unlimited powers and imposing the death penalty or flogging for arms offences. Be mindful, these special powers will be copied by the free staters later, which I will cover as the article continues.
Now the treaty was debated in the Dáil, Collins’ London Treaty of the 6th of December 1921, conceding Irish independence and accepting the Government of Ireland Act as defacto before the talks. British policy, inevitably, always divided forces of subordinate nations, Ireland was no exception. It split the Irish revolutionary movement asunder. The treaty for others was a complete betrayal of the Irish Republic, fought and proclaimed in arms in the Easter Rebellion of 1916, and re-affirmed in the 1918 General Election, while refusing to sit in Westminster and establishing our own independent parliament, Dáil Eireann in Dublin on the 21stof January 1919. Subsequently, the British enforced martial law and sanctioned murder by auxiliaries, the black and tans during the War of Independence 1919-1921. Finally, after bitter debate the vote was carried by 64 to 57. Once the Dáil had passed the treaty, as decreed by the British, the way was clear to set up the British Pup, the provisional government.
Arthur Griffith as chairman of the Irish signatories of the treaty called a special meeting and all elected representatives, bar those elected to Northern Ireland were invited. Note, all this is recognition of the British, 2 subordinate jurisdictions. The republicans who stood with the principles of an independent 32 county sovereign republic boycotted the Mansion House meeting. The circumstances were dire. What ever hope of a united struggle for Irish freedom was well and truly over. When the British treaty of dominion status was passed, Collins’ Griffith and their pack on one hand and the British government on the other, determined to enforce their agreement on the Irish people, with the treat of war from the British and now the British allies, their pup, the provisional government, poised to crush the peoples mandated government of the republic of 1918.
At this point there were 2 governments, the republican of 1918 and the British provisional government, the dissidents Collins’ Griffith and Co, which created the abnormal constitutional circumstances, the provisional government was responsible, neither to the Dáil, nor to any other elected assembly. In my opinion, the hallmark of a real dissident, contrary to free state propaganda. The audacity of Kevin O’Higgins, describing themselves simply as 8 young men in the City Hall as a seat of government, standing amidst the ruins of one administration, with the foundations of another not yet laid, and describing the peoples elected republican government as wild men screaming through the keyhole.
I read an article the other day about the border poll, stating it was a key to the door, ironically, that’s the same door that O’Higgins referred to. Make no mistake, our principles are not for barter, we are not suffering from amnesia or a nation ravished with dementia to such an extent that we need to ask what is our country. Electoralism is counter revolutionary, our history has well documented the folly, real power only yields to command, furthermore our history and the world over, painfully documents how successive British policy of divide and conquer, working their institutions, always cause postponement of the inevitable revolution.
I think there is no better example to explain the inevitable at this point than quoting Padraig Pearse at his court martial “We seem to have lost, we have not lost, to refuse to fight would have been to lose, to fight is to win, we have kept faith with our past and handed on the tradition to the future”.
At this point the treatyities were still committed at all costs to proceed with the British born pup, the provisional government, completely and with murderous intent, aping and prepared to enforce methods the Irish people had suffered and endured by British occupation. They now have an Irish ally, willing to do their biding. The Republicans, on the night of the 13th of April, they occupied the forecourts and other prominent buildings in Dublin, after the IRA convention the new IRA executives were Rory O’Connor, Liam Lynch, Liam Mellows and Ernie O’Malley, they repudiated the provisional governments authority and demanded an end to all recruiting for the provisional government forces.
The new executive appointed a 7 strong army council under Liam Lynch as chief of staff and came out against the holding of elections while the treat of war by England exists. Collins’ and De Valera, on the 20th of May, worked out terms to cover the election for the so-called third Dáil, they would stand as a collation. Drawing up the constitution for the Free State was also supposed to be the task of the provisional government, not so, a very naive belief, the British treaty was so designed to be absolutely abhorrent in everyway to the thinking of republicans who were never going to accept dominion status from the King of England, a country that has inflicted rape, murder, robbery and genocide throughout 800 years, also remembering all those who sacrificed their lives on the field of battle and on hunger strike, or by British execution. To rid our country of the yoke, a parasite of yester year today, and while we fight for a better and free tomorrow, we will never surrender. Returning to the free state British creation and drafting the constitution Lloyd George intervened in the Dublin/London dialogue, predictably as they had drafted the designed and guaranteed divisive treaty. He wrote to Griffith for an early and explicit declaration that it would conform with the treaty. The British drew up plans to occupy the waterline of rivers and lakes to defend the North against invasion. Isn’t it ironic that the foreign invader classifies our own people in our own country as invaders. This is the mindset we must guard against. Conquest has no right of title, but held responsible by the republic for crimes committed.
The republican government, due to British and native cooperation, threatened by their joint force, had but one option, to set about to destroy the treaty by an immediate war against the British garrison remaining in Dublin.