Compromise and Confusion

When at its Ard Fheis in October, 1933, Sinn Féin, after censuring three of its members who had voted at a general election to a partition and usurping parliament, proceeded solemnly to elect as its President a person on the pay-roll of that same parliament, another tier was added to the bank of confusion that has grown more thick and dense with each passing year since the first Republican compromise with wrong was made in 1921. The three who voted, and all the other Republicans (including members of Dáil Éireann) who cast votes at this general election did wrong, but they were not paid for it and they had not to work under the direction of one of His Brittanic Majesty’s Ministers in the Area of the Empire known as the Irish Free State. And in that they were in a different category to the person elected President of Sinn Féin last October.

As soon as the Treaty of Surrender was signed by five delegates from the Republic of Ireland, in defiance of the instructions they received and of their own promise to stand firmly against partition and against allegiance to the British Crown, confusion began to set in and it has been England’s greatest ally here during the past thirteen years. One of the first signs of it was the declaration by a prominent member of Sinn Féin that he had accepted the Treaty because Collins and Griffith were not shot when they landed at Dún Laoghaire after the Surrender in London!

In the long debate on the Treaty the confusion grew. Men forgot about Ireland and said they “would go to hell with Michael Collins”; that they would take a thousand oaths if each one would buy a rifle (no explanation given as to what use the rifle would be put); that the Treaty should be accepted for the sake of the Irish Language (forgetting that a free Irish Republic – or even an unfree one – could do more for its language than any Dominion of the British Empire); and scores of other muddled statements, the direct result of the confusion that never fails to follow compromise with wrong.

The confusion was deepened when the second compromise came in 1926, and men who had pleaded eloquently for the ideals of Sinn Féin began to sneer at the “rarified atmosphere” in which Sinn Féin elected to stay. They (the new compromisers) preferred the solid earth, they said, but a few days later they issued a manifesto calling on the people of Ireland to “Rally round the banner that flies nearest to the sky.” From the solid earth to the most rarified of atmospheres was nothing at all to those who had begun to build still higher that bank of confusion begun in 1921. On the same occasion they compared those who refused to compromise to the surgeon who would polish his instruments, and that the Treaty of Surrender and the English-made Constitution which was the outcome of it, were two of the dirtiest instruments ever put by England into the hands of renegade Irishmen for the destruction of the Irish Nation.

Confusion was responsible for the withdrawl of allegiance to Dáil Éireann by the Irish Volunteers in 1925, because clear thinking would have shown them that they were merely clearly the way for the new Free Staters. It was confusion again which caused them to help in the election of a political party to control of the British Machine – the Machine that must necessarily destroy or try to destroy the Irish Volunteers if itself is to remain intact.

Confusion has given us about five different associations of Easter Week veterans, has allowed the Blueshirt menace to appear in Irish public life, has cause friction in all organisations except those which stand frankly for the British connection; but the low-water mark in compromise and confusion was almost reached when Sinn Féin, the most uncompromising organisation in Ireland, as we used to call it, set the seal of approval on the acceptance of jobs from a usurping government, left every single one of its members free to accept jobs form the same quarter without fear of censure or criticism.

I say “almost” because the culminating point will be reached if and when members of Sinn Féin or of the Irish Volunteers take the final plunge and enter one or other of the English-made partition assemblies – as “uncompromising Republicans”. May we be spared that last humiliation!

Confusion, dissension, weakness, bitterness, party feuds, materialism, selfishness, jobbery – these are the offspring of the Treaty of Surrender, the edifice we have built over the graves of our great, unselfish dead. Every compromise, every new surrender made in the name of a chimerical ‘unity’ only causes more and more dissension and puts further out of reach the comradeship and strength that were ours when we strove together for one great object – the aim of Tone, of the Fenians and the men of 1916 and of the ‘four glorious years’ that followed – the only object that will ever bring the best and truest of our people together in real unity, viz., “to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our ills.”

These words were written in no unfriendly spirit. They are written in all sincereity and friendliness by one who believes that, even now, the forces which confusion has sundered and is keeping apart – Dáil Éireann, the Irish Volunteers, Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann – could be brought together and made such a power in this land that eventually despite the Blueshirts and New Militia and party playacting, the Treaty of Surrender would have to go, its constitutions would have to be scrapped, the whole Free State fraud would have to be abandoned and a clear unequivocal declaration be made in favour of an independent Irish Republic by all who claim to be self-respecting Irishmen.

There can be brotherhood in Ireland again, not for the purpose of trying to work the British Machine in an Irish way, but for the nobler and wiser and more practical purpose of smashing it beyond repair.

Compromise with wrong begets confusion, and confusion is the forerunner of defeat. Unity for the right begets courage, and courage is the herald of victory.

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