Policy of Conciliation


Mark this thing, too. The men thus assaulted and gagged were still members of "the Party," which the country in its last exercise of liberty had recently obliged to renew its allegiance to our principles.

The All-for-Ireland League was not founded until the Treaty by which the Party was reunited in 1908 on the old platform of Conciliation had been shamelessly broken. The Treaty, which was the result of a Conference between Mr. Redmond and Most Rev. Dr. O'Donnall, Bishop of Raphoe, who represented the Party, and Father James Clancy, P.P., Carrigaholt, and myself who represented the Policy of Conciliation plus Business, bound the Party "cordially to welcome the co-operation of all classes and creeds willing to aid in the attainment" (among other great objects) "of the complete abolition of Landlordism." The test came when the Treasury, in order to recoup themselves for the losses of the Boer War by a beggarly economy at the expense of Ireland, proposed virtually to repeal the Act of 1903, under whose generous terms hundreds of thousands of tenants were hastening to purchase. The Treasury might have been and could only have been baffled by the common action between landlords and tenants to which the Party had pledged themselves by the Treaty of Reunion. Quite otherwise, in his infatuated hatred of the Act of 1903, Mr. Dillon hailed the Treasury Bill for its repeal with exultation, and induced the Party by a majority of 45 votes to 15 [6] to repudiate their pledge to "welcome the co-operation" of the landlords against the perfidy of the Treasury and thereby gave the signal to the Board of Erin to strangle any further opposition by the incredible blackguardism of "The Baton Convention." Having thus torn to shreds the Treaty by which the Party had been reunited, Mr. Birrell was given a free field for passing the Act of 1909 by which Land Purchase was brought to a dead stop; over a hundred thousand tenants were for thirteen years and are up to the hour at which these pages are written, left groaning under the yoke of landlordism, and, most execrable trick of all, the Bonus of £20,000,000 voted by the glad assent of all Parties in 1903 as a Free Imperial gift, was turned into a debt due to the Treasury by the Irish Nation. These occurrences, men of honour will scarcely need to be told, rendered any further association on our part impossible with a Party so faithless to their word, and so guiltily responsible for a course of action which all the world now knows to have been fatal to the country's most sacred interests. What Mr. Dillon once boastingly said of himself: "I have been all my life a destructive politician," might serve for his mournful epitaph as a patriot.

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The Irish Revolution

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William O'Brien was a County Cork M.P. who participated in the negotiations for Home Rule in Ireland. In this account, first published in 1923, he provides an insight into the politics and politicians of the time - John Redmond, John Dillon, Arthur Griffith, Sir Edward Carson, Bonar Law, Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, etc. - and gives his analysis of the origins of the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent Irish Civil War. From his own perspective, O'Brien was very much anti-Partition, and was evidently frustrated at the failure to give adequate reassurance to the Northern Unionists.

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