Daniel O'Connell's Proposals - The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps)

John Mitchel
Author’s Edition (undated)

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Nevertheless, they warn the Government that, "If the potato crop were a failure, its produce would be consumed long before they could acquire new means of subsistence; and then a famine ensues." * Yet, when the famine did ensue, it took "the Government" as much by surprise (or they pretended that it did), as if they had never been warned.

Not only the citizens of Cork and Belfast, but the Repeal Association, also had suggestions to make. Indeed, this last-named body was the only one that could pretend especially to represent the very class of people whose lives were endangered by the dearth. Let us see what they had to propose:—

On the 8th of December, O'Connell, in the Repeal Association, said: "If they ask me what are my propositions for relief of the distress, I answer, first, Tenant-Right. I would propose a law giving to every man his own. I would give the landlord his land, and a fair rent for it; but I would give the tenant compensation for every shilling he might have laid out on the land in permanent improvements. And what next do I propose? Repeal of the Union." In the latter part of his speech, after detailing the means used by the Belgian legislature during the same season—shutting the ports against export of provisions, but opening them to import, and the like, he goes on:—

"If we had a domestic Parliament, would not the ports be thrown open—would not the abundant crops with which heaven has blessed her be kept for the people of Ireland,—and would not the Irish Parliament be more active even than the Belgian Parliament to provide for the people food and employment (hear, hear)? The blessings that would result from Repeal—the necessity for Repeal—the impossibility of the country enduring the want of Repeal,—and the utter hopelessness of any other remedy—all those things powerfully urge you to join with me, and hurrah for the Repeal."

Still earlier, in November, O'Brien had used these words—

"I congratulate you, that the universal sentiment hitherto exhibited upon this subject has been that we will accept no English charity (loud cheers). The resources of this country are still abundantly adequate to maintain our population: and until those resources shall have been utterly exhausted, I hope there is no man in Ireland who will so degrade himself as to ask the aid of a subscription from England."

And the sentiment was received with "loud cheers." O'Brien's speech is an earnest and vehement adjuration not to suffer promises of "Relief," or vague hopes of English boons, to divert the country one moment from the great business of putting an ...continue reading »

* Report of the "Select Committee."

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