1921 – Bitter Treaty Debate Continues.

Passions continue to rise during a debate that will tear the country asunder. In general despite the emotions involved, the quality of the debate was substantially better than anything we see today in Dail Eireann.

MR. SEAN ETCHINGHAM (anti-Treaty): …. “Yes, they might hold up their heads, but they are holding up their hands, for this is a Treaty of surrender of the principles they are here to uphold. I have heard gentlemen speak of the dead—let the dead rest. I can well understand that, for the boy Kevin Barry marched to the gallows with his head up, but his hands were pinioned to his side, and other men faced the firing parties, and other men faced the hangman with their heads up but their hands pinioned to their sides…… Let us go in with our heads up, but this I say to you finally, if you do vote for this thing, that posterity—the Assistant Minister of Local Government says he does not mind posterity—will denounce you, for if you do it it will be a renunciation of your principles, of your allegiance to the Irish Republic. Nay, it is more, it is the burial service over the grave of the Irish Nation, and there is to be no firing party.”

FINIAN LYNCH (pro-Treaty): Deputy Etchingham is trying to tell this House and trying to tell the people of Ireland that Lloyd George, shaking a paper in front of the face of Michael Collins was able to put the wind up Michael Collins. Let the people of Ireland judge whether it is so easy to put the wind up Michael Collins. That kind of eyewash is not going to go down with me or with any man who has soldiered with Collins, or with any person in Ireland who knows what he has done…

Now I stand for this Treaty on four grounds, and the one I mention last is the one that will mean the most to me. I stand for it because it gives us an army, because it gives us evacuation, because it gives us control over the finances of the country, and lastly, and greatest of all to me, because it gives us control over our education.

MRS. KATHLEEN O’CALLAGHAN (anti-Treaty): For myself, since girlhood I have been a Separatist. I wanted, and I want, an independent Ireland, an Ireland independent of the British Empire, and I can assure you that my life in Limerick during 1920, culminating in the murder of my husband last March—my life and that event have not converted me to Dominion status within the British Empire. I would like to say here that it hurts me to have to vote against the Minister for Foreign Affairs. He was a friend of my husband. Every night in my home, as in most Irish homes, prayers went up for him, and for the President, and for all who were standing by the country. I have the greatest admiration for him, but this is not a matter of devotion to a leader, or devotion to a party, it is a matter of principle, and you may sneer at principle, some of you. It is a matter of principle, a matter of conscience, a matter of right and wrong.

MR. SEAN T. O’CEALLAIGH (anti-Treaty): I cannot bear to live to see such a man as Arthur Griffith, who has been an inspiration to us all, or even younger men who have won fame the wide world over for a heroism that is peculiar to Ireland, men such as Michael Collins, Dick Mulcahy, Seán MacKeon, and many, many of their associates—I cannot bear to see these men acting as Ministers and Generals in the name of his Majesty King George V. in Ireland supported by time-servers, surrounded by shoneens, West Britons, and all the shallow toadies and place-hunters that Ireland produces in as much abundance as any other country. For it is not making much of a prophecy to say that the loyal, true-hearted, genuine Irishman will not rally round them. The Irish Ireland in which they grew up, for which they fought so valiantly will soon know them no more. We should all throw back at England this instrument of our subversion

Photo: De Valera (center) with other anti-treaty supporters.

Read New York Times Report on Treaty Debate: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FB0F1FF93E5D14738DDDA80A94DA415B818EF1D3

Read full Treaty Debate 20 Dec 1921: http://www.generalmichaelcollins.com/Treaty_Documents/The_Treaty_Debate_1921_20.htm



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