[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

well that, if he stated all he knew, he would be handed over to the tender mercies of the League when the Government had picked his brains. Things were different in Mr. Balfour's day; evidence was forthcoming by inquiries under the Crimes Act, convictions were obtained, and order was restored. Evidence is all a question of confidence; if the man in the street' (even in Ireland) knows he will be protected, he will come forward and give his evidence against a state of things which he loathes as much as any man; if he knows that he will be deserted and thrown to the wolves, he will keep his mouth shut. Yet we are told it is ‘ coercion’to ask for the enforcement of the Crimes Act. I agree with the poor farmer in Galway who

I said to me 'I never knew coercion except the coercion of bad neighbours.'

Before leaving this cattle-driving form of intimidation I would like to add that, large as are the numbers officially given, some 800 drives have been excluded from the Parliamentary returns because a rule has been laid down by the present Chief Secretary that only where these riots are followed by a conviction for unlawful assembly before a jury, or where compensation has been granted for injury to cattle, shall they be recorded in the criminal statistics. And, similarly, the records of crime take no official cognisance of the immense number of persons who are prevented by the United Irish League from taking or stocking grazing farms. In the days of Mr. Walter Long there was no fear and no difficulty in thus carrying on the ordinary business of agricultural life. He laid down an instruction to the Estates Commissioners that they should not purchase or divide lands where such intimidation had taken place. The present Government repealed this most wise regulation, and now cattle-driving and gross intimidation form no bar to lands thus vacated being dealt with by the Commissioners. Once more we see that vice is its own reward and a high premium is set on lawlessness.

It is amazing that, when coercion so rampant and relentless is applied both to the Government and the people of Ireland by the United Irish League, His Majesty's Ministers cannot summon up sufficient courage to shield either their own honour or the lives of those whom they are paid to protect. Who can blame, in these circumstances of helpless surrender, Mr. John Redmond, M.P., for his well-founded boast in New York on the 22nd of September 1908: We (the United Irish League) maintain an office in Dublin within whose walls, practically speaking, the Government of Ireland is carried on.' 1

Let me give one sample of this government. We learn from the Roscommon Herald of the 24th of October 1908 that the Longford branch of the United Irish League held a meeting on the 18th of October. A Mr. Thompson proposed that no man should trade with John Rogers, as he grabbed a portion of land at Lamagh. He carts milk in here to

Irish World, New York, October 3, 1908.
VOL. LXV--No. 385

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

the town.' After a few words, ' an order was made that any person transgressing the law with him in future would be brought up and dealt with.'

Of the sequel I am competent to speak, as I have seen this poor man and his wife in Newtownforbes, where he lives. I have already referred to this case in a recent letter to the Times, but it bears and demands repetition until it is relieved by the authorities. He is absolutely boycotted, and I think he told me that his house has police-patrol protection, but I am not absolutely certain. He cannot buy food except from a boycotted tradesman; he cannot sell his milk; ruin stares him and his family in the face. His little boy was sent away from the school for being the son of his father ; his girls are often pelted with stones as they leave their school. His wife went to the parish priest to complain of the way in which her child was treated by the schoolmaster, but the priest slipped out by the back door and so avoided her visit. She went to the Bishop of the diocese, who, on hearing that the boy was the son of a ' boycott' who had taken some' condemned' land, could only reply ‘Isn't boycotting the penalty they always inflict for that?' I have said that this man's milk trade is ruined; aye, and British soldiers wearing the King's uniform are made to boycott him even against their will. Certain married men of the Army Service Corps, quartered at Longford and living in the town, were informed by their landlords that they must cease buying their milk from him or they would get no lodgings in Longford ; so theythe King's soldiers—had to obey the law of the League. I have reported the case to the Secretary of State for War and to the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, who cannot deny its accuracy ; but nothing is done, for 'the government of Ireland is carried on within the walls of the United Irish League office.' Yet this man Rogers, and a dozen others in the same district whom I have seen and could name, will not surrender to the forces of disorder though the League and the Government be against them. Others have surrendered, some out of sheer terror and some from pity for their families. The last case I hear of is of a railway clerk, a Unionist, who has given in ; and this is but one of many. Unhappily, there are no statistics of these.

Yet we are told ad nauseam that boycotting is very difficult to deal with, and that the Government would do so if it could. Again we must call history to witness, and cite the Crimes Act and Mr. T. W. Russell's letter to the Times in March 1889 to prove the case. Before the Crimes Act came into force in August 1887 there were some five thousand cases of boycotting ; in December these were reduced to about 2400; in December 1888 the number was 712; and on the 31st of December 1891 the then Chief Secretary declared that there was not a single case of a person being either wholly or partially boycotted. There is a complete answer ; by the Crimes Act (Sec. 6) the League can be proclaimed as a 'dangerous association,' its meetings




[ocr errors]

prohibited under penalty, and its tyrannical resolutions suppressed. Instead of which, the most that Mr. Birrell would do was to 'prohibit the publication of notices criminally libelling and intimidating owners of grazing lands and other persons.' So absurd a notice was derided all through the Nationalist Press of Ireland, and, except in form, no editor has paid the slightest attention to it. Observe how easy it is to evade the spirit of this egregious prohibition : the editor may not publish the name of an obnoxious person as such ; very well. The resolution is therefore framed as follows:

The Moylough Branch : That, as we have not up to the present received any intimation of the demanded withdrawal by this branch from the late take on the Powell estate of the objectionable, we are determined, in the event of his refusal, to have recourse to pressure of public opinion.” And again :

The Geevagh Branch: That we severely notice the action of a certain man from Unmeryoe in his connection with driving police, and we now call upon every Nationalist to observe the rules of the League.?

And yet Mr. Birrell fondly imagines that his regulations are being obeyed, and that the law, which he is well salaried to administer, is being respected ! Let him be under no delusion; he no longer governs Ireland-if, indeed, he ever did; Mr. Redmond is the ruler from his office in Dublin, although the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary may imagine that they reign. And that is why the rich and poor go in terror of their lives and livelihoods in the twenty-two disordered counties in Ireland. That is why 47,0001. was charged on last year's estimates for extra police in Ireland; why thousands of pounds are charged on county rates for malicious injuries to property; why hundreds of people are boycotted; why tradesmen are ruined by the score and grinding tyranny crushes the spirit out of the poorest of the poor. Let any impartial man read the Judges' charges at the winter assizes in the crime-ridden counties, or the Lenten pastorals of the Bishops published ten days ago. These face the facts and state them; but the Chief Secretary, if he admits them (which is doubtful), laments his incapacity to cope with them.

There are not a few who believe that, by permitting all this unrest in Ireland, Mr. Birrell hopes ultimately to disgust Great Britain of her ancient connexion with the sister-isle and so to hasten the day of Home Rule for Ireland. He is certainly doing much to confirm them in that belief. He is arming the peasantry to the teeth, by ignoring the unanimous opinion of the police authorities that the Arms Act should not be repealed; he is adding to the financial obligations (over 330,000,0001. since 1880) which Ireland has incurred towards this country and which she, as other countries have done, may repudiate when separation takes place; he is making the

? Sligo Champion, November 14.

country impossible for friends of Great Britain to live in, Irish born and bred though they be. Feckless, he takes no note of the way in which the county and district councils in three provinces of Ireland do their public work as mere branches of the United Irish League, or of the governing capacity of Nationalists as shown in the recent Convention in Dublin. He probably has not even read of the part which the Irish-American newspapers expect Ireland to play in the subjugation of Great Britain once the former is independent.

It is quite idle for Mr. Redmond to attempt to minimise the stated facts by endeavouring to set up an analogy between ordinary crime in England and agrarian crime in Ireland. Into the former it is not my business now to inquire; but this difference must be noted once and for all : that, whereas in England the people are on the side of the law and the malefactor is punished, in the disturbed districts of Ireland the populace sides with the law-breakers who, if caught, get off scot-free. Besides which, the Irish disorders are the outcome of an organised conspiracy against the law of the land, and could be suppressed as Mr. Dillon admitted in the House of Commons on the 24th of February) if the Nationalist party chose to denounce them ; but the crime in England is committed by individuals without any pre-concerted arrangement whatsoever, and no Parliamentary party has the power to stop them.

Meanwhile Ireland is suffering morally and materially. It rests with the Unionist party to redress her just grievances, to crush agitation, to restore order and liberty for the law-abiding citizens of that unhappy land : for in all these particulars the present Administration has lamentably failed.


The Editor of The NINETEENTH CENTURY cannot undertake

to return unaccepted MSS.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The Navy Estimates for the coming financial year have been awaited with eager interest ; they did not appear until an unusually late date (the 12th of March). It was recognised a year ago that there must be a considerable increase of expenditure, and that an enlarged programme of shipbuilding would have to be undertaken in view of the great activity of Germany. Amateurs, claiming more or less authority on the subject, have been occupied ever since in framing programmes. During the last two months they have been exceptionally busy, while rumours have been rife of dissensions in the Cabinet in deciding on the number of new ships to be provided for. This leakage of information in regard to Cabinet procedure is greatly to be regretted, and must do harm. Last year similar incidents took place in connexion with the preparation of the Navy Estimates, and the writer then ventured in these pages to point out the consequent evils, expressing a hope that what had happened would prove to be 'a rare departure from an honourable tradition. Unfortunately that hope has not been realised, but it is unquestionable that the maintenance of secrecy in regard to preliminary stages in the preparation of Estimates is essential to efficient administration, and that the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »