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Treaty Debates in Dáil Éirann

c. December 21, 1921—January 7, 1922 — Dáil Éireann, Dublin, Ireland 


I love my people, every single one of them; I love the country, and I have faith in the people, but I am under no delusions about any of us. We are not a race of archangels, and you allow that Governor – General’s residence, with drawing-rooms, levees, and honours and invitations to be scattered broadcast to your wives and your sisters and your daughters, and mothers even, with all the baits that will be held out to them to come in for the first time by consent of the Irish people in the social atmosphere of the Governor-General’s residence.

Remember that there will be functions there which will be partly social and partly political, which will be Governmental functions. The Ministers of the Government of the Irish Free State—I will omit for the sake of argument the offensive words “his Majesty’s Ministers”—will be obliged to attend the Governor-General’s functions and he will attend theirs. Wherever the Governor-General is, or the representative of the Crown in Ireland is, there you will have the Union Jack and “God Save the King,” and you will have the Union Jack and “God Save the King” for the first time with the consent of the people of Ireland.

You may say to me, some of you, that there will be, perhaps, a self-denying ordinance clause which will prevent the Ministers of the Irish Government, or any person belonging to the Irish Government, entering the portals of the Governor-General’s house. You cannot. You will have to have him there as representative of the King with certain functions to perform. You cannot exclude him. You cannot stay away from him.

You will have to get his signature to documents. You will have to get his signature to every law that is passed by the Irish Free State Government, and if the Minister for Foreign Affairs stands up and contradicts that, if he says we can make a Constitution which will take care that the Governor-General does not have to sign any such document, again I say, “wait and see,” wait until your Constitution has come through Westminster, wait till the English Government, by means of this instrument of theirs, signed by the Irish Delegation—they have demoralised the people of this country as they had already demoralised some of the men in this assembly by their specious arguments.

Your Constitution must be “as by law established.” Wait and see whether it will get you out of the English representative’s domicile in Dublin. You may tell me that the patronage—abominable word—think of the word patronage being used to an Irish Republican Assembly—“his Majesty’s patronage” will be under the control of the Irish Government.

I have no doubt, none whatever, but that any Minister of the Irish Free State, any one of those advocating support of this Treaty in the present Dáil, would refuse a title from his Majesty’s Government, but wait a little while until the first fervour of the Irish Free State is worn out, wait a little while until a stage is reached when the demoralisation has eaten into the soul of the people of this country, and the next Parliament won’t be so very self-denying with regard to honours and patronage.

. . . 

I, for one, will have neither hand, act nor part in helping the Irish Free State to carry this nation of our, this glorious nation that has been betrayed here tonight, into the British Empire, either with our without your hands up.

I maintain here now that this is the grossest act of betrayal that Ireland ever endured. I know some of you have done it from good motives; soldiers have done it to get a gun. God help them! Others, because they thought it best in some other way. I do not want to say a word that would prevent them from coming back to their Mother Republic; but I register my protest, and not one bit of help that we can give will we give them. The speech we have heard sounded very beautiful —as the late minister of finance can do it; he has played up to the gallery in this thing, but I tel you it may sound very beautiful but it will not do. Ireland stands on her republican government and that republication government cannot touch the pitch of the Free State without being fouled; and here and now I call on all true republicans; we all want to protect the public safety. we want no such terrible troubles in the country as faction fights; we can never descent to the faction fights of former days; we have established a govt, and we sill have to protect it.

Therefore, let there be no misunderstanding, no soft talk, no ráiméis at this last moment of the betrayal of our country; no soft talk about union; you cannot unite a spiritual Irish Republic and a betrayal word than Castlereagh’s, because it was done for the Irish nation. you may talk about the will of the Irish people, as Arthur Griffith did; you know it is not the will of the Irish people; it is the fear of the Irish people, as the lord mayor of Cork says; and tomorrow or another day when they come to their senses they will talk of those who betrayed them today as they talk of Castlereagh. Make no doubt about it. This is a betrayal, a gross betrayal; and the fact that it is only a small majority, and that majority is not united; half of them look for a gun and the other half are looking for the fleshpots of the Empire. I tell you here there can be no union between the representatives of the Irish Republic and the so-called Free State.