Constance de Markievicz: What Irish Republicans Stand For (1923)

In Citizen Army uniform with her beloved revolver

Today, February 4 (2018) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Constance Gore-Booth/Constance de Markievicz.  To commemorate the anniversary, I’m putting up the text of her 1923 pamphlet What Irish Republicans Stand For.

I have had a copy of this pamphlet since the late 1980s – ie for about 30 years! – dating back to when I first began collecting her writings, many of which appear on this blog.  I drew on her writings for my MA thesis which was written in 1995 and the first few months of 1996 – the thesis chapters also appear on this blog.

Ever since I started this blog in 2011, I have meant to stick it up here, but wanted to coincide it going up with some anniversary relating to her.  I had intended, finally, to put it up on July 15, last year, the 90th anniversary of her death, but got caught up in other things and the day came and went.

Addressking mass rally in Boston, during speaking tour in the United States

However, the 150th anniversary of her birth seems an even better time.  So, finally here it is.  Nick Scullin typed up half of it from a photocopy of the original pamphlet; I typed up the other half.

At first, I thought it was published in 1924 but it appears that it is 1923.  I don’t have access to libraries with copies of daily papers from that time so haven’t been able to double-check – Markievicz, for instance, cites several newspaper articles, giving the day of the month, so these could be looked up to verify 1923 is the year and not 1924.

The original includes the words, “Reprinted from Forward by courtesy of the Editor”.  This was a left-wing Scottish newspaper, based in Glasgow.  Revolutionary socialists such as James Connolly and John Maclean, plus others associated with ‘Red Clydeside’  wrote for it, as did a range of reformist socialists.  After WW1, the paper was particularly associated with the ILP (left social-democrats).  Although Forward had its own printing and publishing company, What Irish Republicans Stand For was printed by Civic Press Ltd of Howard Street in Glasgow.

We typed it up in line with the original pamphlet – ie where it used italics, bold, capitals etc, we left them in place and where headings were centred in the original, we left them centred.  I have, however, put in gaps between paragraphs where the original simply indented a few spaces to indicate new paragraphs.

I’ve not corrected mistakes – eg Eamonn de Valera did not draw up the Democratic Programme (he, like Markievicz, was in prison in England at the time).  Also, some of the language now seems quaint.  Co-operative Commonwealth, for instance, was often used as a synonym for socialism.  There was also the view that pre-Conquest Gaelic society was a pre-class society, so references to “Gaelic ideas” often referred to this; regardless of the exact nature of Gaelic society, certainly both feudalism and capitalism were imposed on Ireland from across the water.

It is also important to keep in mind the time in which this was written.  A counter-revolution was taking place, reactionary elements within the independence movement were gaining control and imprisoning and murdering their former comrades, including people Markievicz had worked with.  Although Markievicz staunchly opposed the Free State, the counter-revolution took a heavy toll on her and she died just four years after the end of the civil war.

The cover has a box with the following in it, just below the title and by-line.  NB: the misspelling of Wolfe, Mitchel and Lalor are as on the cover.

COVER PAGE

“The conquest of Ireland has meant the social and political servitude of the Irish masses, and therefore the reconquest of Ireland must mean the social as well as the political independence from servitude of every man, woman and child.”
-JAMES CONNOLLY

I offer this little leaflet humbly to the memory of Wolf Tone, of Mitchell, of Lawler, and of James Connolly to whom I am indebted for the faith and the knowledge that inspired it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

WHAT IRISH REPUBLICANS STAND FOR

by Constance de Markievicz

Free State as Tool of British Capitalism

In these articles I am going to discuss Ireland and the “Irish Free State” from an economic point of view, and endeavour to show that this “Free State” is but a further attempt to force the English social and economic systems on a people who cling instinctively and with a passionate loyalty to the ideals of a better civilisation, the tradition of which is part of their subconscious spiritual and mental selves.

It was devised by the British Cabinet of imperialists and capitalists and accepted by their would-be counterparts in Ireland, whom they supply with money, arms, and men for the purpose of breaking up the growing movement towards the development of the Co-operative Commonwealth in Ireland. I claim that for this reason the Free State can never be acceptable to the people of Ireland, and, moreover, that this is the key that opens the door to a thorough understanding of the Irish question, and that there is no other key.

For 800 years Ireland has been devastated again and again by English armies and tricked by English politicians for but one object – the destruction of the Gaelic State to its last traditions and relics, and the establishment, in its place, of the feudal-capitalist state.

The military and political conquests were but means to this end, whole clans were massacred, dispersed or starved to death, whole provinces laid waste again and again for this one purpose – the forcing of an alien and repugnant civilisation on a civilised people.

It is only in latter years that the history of Ireland has been approached in a scientific manner, and that this has been made clear.  Mrs Alice Stopford Green is the great pioneer in this work.  For many years she has been digging laboriously into the past and bringing to light all that she has gleaned from the old documents that survive the systematic destruction of the records of Ireland’s greatness by the English.

James Connolly went further. A student of labour, viewed as a world question, from both scientific and historical sources, a man of practical experience as an organiser, agitator, and speaker in two continents, he mated his knowledge and experience with the facts disclosed by Mrs Green, George O’Brien and others, and has left us in his books a wonderfully comprehensive sketch of Ireland’s real struggle. Her past sufferings, her present slow awakening and struggle and her future hopes and aspirations.

I would appeal to my readers in his words: “The sympathetic student of history, who believes in the possibility of a people by political intuition anticipating the lessons afterwards revealed in the sad school of experience, will not be indisposed to join with the ardent Irish patriot in his lavish expression of admiration of his Celtic forefathers, who foreshadowed in the democratic organisation of the Irish clan the more perfect organisation of the free society of the future.”

Padraig Pearse also dwelt much on the Gaelic State. He emphasises his vision of an Ireland “not free merely, but Gaelic as well.”

THE REPUBLIC.

The reason why the Republican movement was accepted by the people, and a Republic was brought into being by them at the price of such terrible sacrifice and suffering was that the ideals embodied in that Republic touched into life all that was most vital and most Gaelic in the imagination and race memory of the people.

The proclamation of the Republic in Easter week declared the “right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and infeasible. . . The Republic guarantees. . . equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally.” The sixteen men who signed this, sealed it with their blood; and Ireland, valuing it for these men’s sake, will for all generations be reminded that a civilisation based on Gaelic ideals is what men in the past died for,and that it alone is worth fighting for.

The Democratic Programme drawn up by Eamon de Valera emphasises and develops the ideals of the Gaelic State. The “rights of the people to an adequate share of the produce of the nation’s labour” are declared. We are pledged as the “first duty of the Government of the Republic”, to work for the well-being of the children and for their “education and training as citizens of a free and Gaelic Ireland.”

The poor-law system was to have been abolished and the “aged and infirm shall not be regarded as a burden, but rather entitled to the nation’s gratitude and consideration”. The nation’s resources were to be exploited in the interests and for the benefit of the Irish people and industries were to be “developed on the most beneficial and progressive co-operative and industrial lines”.

The building up of the Republican Government was of necessity slow and laborious. It had to be done in secret, because our country was overrun by an army of occupation, when no man’s life was safe. The nation became one huge Secret Society, each man and woman taking his and her part in making the Republic the de facto Government of Ireland; and in guarding the members of the Government and their staffs. Let no-one imagine that this loyalty and self-sacrifice were offered to a mere transference of the same system from Westminster to Dublin: it was given to the vision of Ireland “not merely free, but Gaelic as well”.

SALARIES AND WAGES.

President de Valera stood for this. He set a noble example by the simplicity of his life. Very soon after he took up the duties of President the question of Ministerial salaries was raised. A scale was brought forward for the approval of Dail Eireann. Under it, the President was to receive £2,000 a year. Gently but firmly de Valera refused this, stating that he wanted no more than he earned at his profession – that of a teacher. His salary was then fixed at £500. Later he was given £600 per year, and neither he nor Mrs de Valera changed their way of living to indulge in luxuries or display. Each minister received first £300 and later £500 a year, and while the higher officials received less than in any country in the world except Switzerland the employees in the various Government offices were levelled up. The Secretaries all started at £5 a week and gradually raised. Some had reached £8 per week during my term as Minister of Labour. They were for the most part young clerks who had been dismissed from the British Civil Service for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the English King which was introduced during the war. The lowest paid were the typists and stenographers, who were started at £3.

As step by step the Republican Government became the de facto Government of Ireland it began slowly to reorganise the national services on more democratic and Gaelic lines. Of course, we had to go very slowly and carefully, for not only were we faced with the difficulties which inevitably face the development of any country on any lines, but we faced also the fact that an enemy army was in occupation of our country, and that the whole nation was individually “on the run” and that anybody whose capacity destinguished (spelt wrongly in the original – PF) them from their comrades was in special danger of arrest or murder.

The Home Office under Austin Stack began its work of remodeling the machinery of law.  The Republican Justices were to be elected in compliance with the old Gaelic custom.

I presided over the election in my constituency, and can vouch for facts.  Representatives were called from the Republican Army, Cumann na mBan (the women’s army), from all the Trades Unions and Labour organisations, from the clergy, from the Jews, and from all available organisations, and in addition from persons connected with other interests who clould be trusted not to betray us to the Black-and-Tans, who would have been only too glad to have raided our meeting.  These people, after careful consideration of each person suggested, elected the panels of Justices.  Those elected were chosen irrespective of sex or age, because those who knew them believed that each one would be just and that each one would have the courage to carry on the work, in spite of the perils attached to it.

And we were not disappointed.  They did their duty manfully, and the people accepted their decisions and were loyal to them, instead of regarding them with that distrust and suspicion that they had for the old British Courts of Justice.  Law, too, was ,ade cheap for the poor.  The Bill regulating rents has been forced on Ireland from England.  Austin Stack revised the Bill, and it was made impossible for landlords to raise the rent more than what would justly cover higher expenses for repairs and higher rates.  Thus rents were kept lower in the Republic than in Britain.

Co-operative Commonwealth The Way Out

During my term of office as Minister of Labour for the Republic, very difficult situations were constantly cropping up, especially in rural districts where both sides were often armed and belonging to different sections of the Republican forces.  The threat of economic war cropped up again and again.  But the people, both employers and workers, believed in the justice of their own Republican Government, and of our desire to act fairly, and to secure the best for the worker without ruining the employer, so they ignored the British Ministry and brought their disputes to us and accepted our decisions.

There was only one occasion when I allowed military to be brought to a locality where there was a strike.  I did so at the request of the officials of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, and I took the precaution of getting it in writing and forwarded it to Cathal Brugha, the Minister of Defence.  This was done to ensure the safety of an old woman who was threatened by a few undisciplined and armed men in an unofficial strike.  No trouble ensued.  The precaution was enough.

I have before me a letter that was sent out to all the Local Government bodies in Ireland on the fatal 6th of December, 1921, dealing with Anti-Profiteering Committees.  It states that “Ministers were not of opinion that the A.-P.C.s working on the lines set up by the British Government could give satisfactory results<” and then proceeded to giveinstruction for the formng of Committees.  Three-quarters of the members of the Committees were to be consumers, the other fourth traders.  They were given the powers to arrange with the farmers for the direct sale of meat and milk to the consumers, and were also empowered to book bulk orders for coal to be supplied to consumers.  This was their definition, “The Anti-Profiteering Committees in every case shall be simply the executive of a local league of consumers formed under the encouragement given by the Government in view of the industrial and economic conditions of the moment.”

So far there are very few “big businesses” in Ireland.  The English saw to that!  Through the centuries when Britain was being developed industrially according to the ideals ans schemes of those responsible for the modern Capitalist system of civiloisation, Ireland was deliberately prevented by legislation and coercion from developing in the same direction.  Her agriculturalists, manufacturers and merchants were restricted, and as soon as any branch of her industries came into competition with its equivalent in England some scheme or other was always devised by which it could be put out of competition.  Her working class population was got rid of by sword, famkine or emigration.  Hence, in Ireland, we have a small population and little work for them, and employment is gradually being diminished as Irish manufacturers and home produce are gradually superseded by foreign stuff and the Irish distributing trade falls into the hands of foreign firms.  We have to-day but two courses before us.

The first is, to let things alone and watch the last of our dwindling industries being captured and supplanted by foreign enterprise, whereby all small Irish businesses would be ruined, and their owners reduced to the position of wage-slaves.  It would be the worst state of wage slavery the world has known, because Ireland herself would be a slave State, with foreign Trusts and Big Business exercising their stranglehold over every branch of native industry, and able to play the Cat-and-Mouse game with every attempt to develop the country.  Ireland would thus be worse enslaved than ever before.

This applies equally to farmking as to other industries.  The Irish farmers would find it harder as years went on to compete against the big Colonial farmers.  Modern improvements in transit, ice storage, and each new improvement in machinery applied to farming on the huge acres of other continents all carry with the, the ruin and destruction of the small farmer in Ireland.  All this tends towards State Capitalism in its worst form in Ireland, for it would be centred outside Ireland.  Those established to-day as heads of the Free State machine would be unavoidably forced into the position of being merely the business managers of a local branch of the organisation that rules England in the interests of “Big Businesses”, and be absolutely dependent on their loyalty to their cross-Channel bosses for their personal prosperity.

The other course, and the only sane course, for Ireland is Co-operation.  Farmers have learnt the lesson from the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society; and they must now be taught to bring the principle that organised the creameries and made the keeping of cows a profitable industry to bear on every branch of farming, and also to include the workers in their societies.  The shopkeepers, if they do not wish their children to be reduced to the condition of starving wage slaves, must also learn the lesson and, in co-operation with the workers, must reorganise their businesses on true co-operative lines.  With the whole country organised thus, and with the entire population supporting the industries in the well-being of which every man and woman was interested, we should guard against the conquest of Ireland by foreign capital, and the development of her villages along the lines that have created the “Black Country” and the this-world-Hells to be found in Glasgow, Liverpool and all British industrial cities.

This then was the economic policy of the Republic.  It may be said that few realised or understood it; but the sub-conscious soul of the nation instinctively recognised and approved it.  The English government understood it, for the record of Co-operative creameries wrecked and burnt was largely by the Black-and-Tans.

We could only make very slow progress with an enemy army in occupation of our country, but in spite of the immense difficulties we met in raising money to finance our Government and to finance even a few schemes, and the almost greater difficulty of finding organisers, we were able to institute three fishing Co-operative Societies, lending the money to buy boats, establish curing stations, etc.  Sean Etchingham, our Minister of Fisheries, was a keen Co-operator.  He worked hard and curageously all through the terror and was steadfast to the Republican faith.  He died a short time ago, his health broken, old before his time, hunted and persecuted.  The Minister for Agriculture was Art O’Connor, also a keen Co-operator, and one Co-operative farm was started.  He is now in a Free State prison.  Robert Barton, also in prison, is another of our experts.  Erskine Childers, too, was an old friend of Sir Horace Plunket’s, and very keen on the Co-operative idea.

These two forms of Co-operative production are the obvious ones to start with in Ireland.  Her fisheries are very undeveloped and miles and miles of the best tillage lands have fallen into the hands of a few men who have reduced them to deserts, broken fences, tumbledown cottages, vast expanses of weeds, and cattle where should be homes, cattle where there should be little children at play.

The only opponents to Co-operative schemes such as I have alluded to are the individual climbers, the drones and bloodsuckers who have the souls of Gombeen men, and the hearts of the landlords of the black forties – the men who are known in Irish history as England’s Garrison in Ireland.  The descendants of British soldiers of fortune and adventurers who were planted in Ireland on the land of the clans, and whose descendants are the “aristocracy” of Ireland to-day, and the renegade Irishmen who are content to enrich themselves through an alliance with the Capitalism and Imperialism that is the Government of England, though in so doing they sell their country into slavery and condemn their fellow countrymen to starvation, exile and extermination.

Free State Constitution and Personnel of the Seanad

The men who undertook the responsibility of inducing the people of Ireland to accept the Free State and all it embodies, did so, I believe, because the saw opportunities to grasp wealth and to accumulate power by so doing. They saw that it might be profitable to themselves, to each of them individually, if through their advice and guidance Ireland could be induced to call a halt in her march towards real Freedom and to give a democratic sanction not only to political domination from England, but to the rivetting of the English social and economic systems on Ireland. They deliberately went out to trick the people into believing that the Free State is the “Half-way House” to the Republic. That is not the “Half-way House” to any Republic, much less to the Republic visioned by those who died for it, can be seen by a glance or two at the constitution which the Free Staters describe as a Charter of Freedom, and at the actions that have been made possible under it.

I will now quote a few of the Articles of the Free State Constitution. Of those quoted, all except No. 2 are from among those Articles that the Free State Minister, Mr. O’Higgins, in the speech that he delivered when introducing it, declared to be “vital, and must not be altered.”

Article 2 states that “…all authority, legislative, executive and judicial in Ireland, are derived from the people of Ireland…” But what use is this, except to delude the casual reader, who rarely gets beyond the second clause of a legal document? It is but a pious phrase that gathers together the powers and rights of a sovereign people, holding them on high to make a hypothetical boast of them before casting them under the feet of the enemy.

Article 60 decrees that the Governor General be appointed from England.

Article 51 reads: “The Executive authority of the Free State is hereby declared to be invested  in the King,” and the powers of appointing Ministers is given to his representative (the Governor General). Gone is the executive power from Ireland.

Article 37 decrees that “Money shall not be appropriated by vote, resolution of law, unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by a message from the Representative of the Crown.”

Article 41 makes it necessary to have the King’s assent to a Bill before it becomes law. Gone is all legislative authority in its ultimate form from the people of Ireland.

Article 66 gives and appeal from the judgement of the High Court to “His Majesty in Council.”

Article 68 decrees that all judges shall be appointed by Representatives of the Crown. Thus the three great powers of a sovereign people are given over in there final form to be held by the British Cabinet through their agent, camouflaged as the “Representative of the Crown.”

Articles 59 and 68 take care that the “remuneration” of Ministers and Judges shall not be reduced during their term of office.

One word now on the “Seanad.” It is an imitation of the House of Lords, with one advantage  —that it is necessary to raise a useful man to the Peerage before he takes his place in it. Of the 60 members, 30 were nominated by President Cosgrove. Among his nominations, two notorious men, hate through Ireland because of their records against the people of Ireland are on it. These are, the President (Lord Glenavy) and Sir Byron Mahon. The first began life as James Campbell, Unionist and barrister. Hist anti-Irish activities gained him promotion. He was the Unionist Solicitor-General. With the Liberal Government, he was raised to Attorney-General, and later he made Chancellor. During the Terror it was his name that the people of Ireland read beneath his Proclamations that were issued to “proclaim” the I.R.A., Cumann na mBan, the Gaelic League and the Sinn Fein organisation. Sir Bryan Mahon succeeded Maxwell as Commander-in-Chief of the King’s army in Ireland, and held that post from 1916 till 1918. The others are mostly drawn from the landlord, Capitalist British-Garrison class, though of course, there are the usual couple of Labour men to give it a really democratic flavour.

SALARIES AND WAGES.

Now let us see how this “Charter of Freedom” has worked out for the workers.

The salary bestowed on the Governor-General is £10,000 a year. A further sum of £27,000 is allotted for the upkeep of his household.

The modest salaries of £600 and £500 a year that satisfied President de Valera and the Ministers of the Republic do not satisfy “the future Aristocracy of Ireland,” who are rolling about in their limousines and acquiring fine residences. President Cosgrove receives £2500 a year. Ministers without portfolios receive £1700, £1500, and £1000 a year. They are safe. This cannot be reduced during their term of office. But note! One of the first acts of the P.M.G. Was to reduce the wages of postmen and other of his wage slaves. They struck, but it was little use. The irony of the thing is that the P.M.G. himself was promoted to that position from being a humble official in Cork Post Office.

The lower grades of employees of the Free State Government have also been reduced, consequently all wages in Ireland are on the downward grade, and Irish papers report nothing but strikes and misery. The Free State labour policy—if they have one—is but the same as of any Capitalistic State, only perhaps a little more extreme. Millions were voted for the purpose of raising an army to exterminate Republicanism, although Mr de Valera and the other Republican leaders emphasised the nation’s desire for peace and expressed their readiness to abide by the decision of the people expressed at the polls in a General Election on adult suffrage.

“Old-age pensions” is the particular activity on which economy is to be practices. At a recent debate Mr Johnston, Chairman of the Irish Labour Party, asked, after severely criticising the remarks of Ministers: “Was it meant that the pension for old age was to become a form of Poor Relief?”

I have already referred to the postal officials strike. During its progress the P.M.G. Openly announced that he was importing scabs and blacklegs from London.

ECONOMY IN SOCIAL POLICIES.

In The Irish Independent of May 19, the Chairman of the Labour Party is quoted as raising a discussion on the importation from London of non-Union men to work in Messrs O’Gormans, coach-builder, Clonmel, where there was a dispute. Two limousines for “a high Government official” were in process of being built. Having objected to the importation of blacklegs and strike-breakers and the breach of Fair Wages Clause, he said: “if it was not to be discourages on Government contract by the people for whom the contract was being undertaken, then it would be discouraged very effectively by the men of Clonmel.”

Another pointer that shows the route by which the Free State is travelling is the support given by the Government to the proposal that a great foreign tobacco combine should be encourages to establish a factory in Dublin. Everyone interested in developing anew the growth of trade in Irish tobacco, that had been killed by a tax imposed from England a century ago, stood aghast. The Ministry, keen on the scent of high dividends and other profits that might accrue to them if they supported it, advocated it strongly. They did so in the name of Labour, to reduce unemployment, etc. We Republicans ask: Why encourage the “Peaceful penetration” of Ireland by English Capitalists, instead of trying to develop trade and industries ourselves on Co-operative lines?

The Capitalists composing  the British Cabinet seem to have an Empire policy with which their subordinates in the Free State Government are in thorough agreement—that is the creation of unemployment in areas where labour is virile and well organised, and providing employment where labour is docile or unorganised. We heard of jute mills idle in Dundee and of jute mills working in Asia; we heard, too, quite lately, of orders for two ships given to Belfast. These orders should in common justice have been given to the Clyde, where many men are suffering from the effects of unemployment. But the men on the Clyde are class conscious, and organised effectively to win freedom; moreover the flag of revolt is constantly raised there, while in Belfast the workers are deluded into supporting Imperialism.

IN THE IRISH INDEPENDENT OF JUNE 5, WE HAVE A LETTER FROM DERMOT J. STEWART, GENERAL SECRETARY, TAILORS, AND TAILORESSES’ UNION, WHO COMPLAINS THAT A CONTRACT FOR 50,000 UNIFORMS FOR THE FREE STATE ARMY HAD BEEN SENT TO ENGLISH MANUFACTURERS.

ON JULY 7, WALTER CARPENTER, GENERAL SECRETARY IRISH GARMENT-MAKERS UNION, PROTESTING AGAINST THE DESICION TO SEND A LARGE CLOTHING CONTRACT FOR THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD TO ENGLAND.

ON JUNE 20, JOHN R. REYNOLDS, SECRETARY, IRISH BEDING ASSOCIATION, WRITES: “AS REGARDS THE RECENT ORDER SENT TO LONDON FOR 50,000 MATTRESSES, NO MEMBER OF OUR ASSOCIATION WAS ASKED TO QUOTE FOR THEM.”

No one who logically believes in an international Labour movement would approve this policy of using one countries workers to starve the workers of another country into submission. Cruel boys tame canary birds by starvation; the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals intervenes. Capitalist brutes try to tame workers by the same methods; all the powers of the Capitalist State are at their disposal.

A farm labour strike has been going on for some time in County Waterford. The farmers refused arbitration, but accepted military aid. Soldiers are active in Dungarvan and Ballygunner and many other places.

In reply to a question ask by Mr. C. O’Shannon (Labour), the Minister of Agriculture informed him that he had decided to reduce the men’s wages by 10% and that no notification had been given to the men’s Unions; that after the strike had taken place they had refused the Union’s offer of a conference. Mr O’Shannon also brought out how Drill-Inspector M’Fadden, in charge of a party of military, had ordered 100 I.T.U. Men off the Naas Road, where they were waiting to receive strike pay. When they retired to a neighbouring school he followed and threatened to “put the red badge through their hearts with a bullet.” General Mulcahy said that he would have an enquiry made, but at the same time refused to accept civilian evidence.

On June 28, “Military were given to the Sub-Sheriff of Tipperary and his bailiffs in making a seizure of three cows from a farm at Athossal Abbey, Gloden, for one year’s rent at the suit of an individual landlord.” How often has this very same act been denounced as a “British policy of starvation” when telling the story of the famine days of ‘48.

These occurrences are rarely reported. But in The Irish Independent of July 25 O’Higgins stated in the Free State Parliament in answer to Mr. O’Connell that there were 76 instances of seizure of stock by military other than by way of execution by decree since December 6. The seizures in each county were—Tirconnel, 1; Carlow, 1; Kilkenny, 2; Offaly, 2; Mayo, 3; Sligo, 4; Leitrim, 3; Roscommon, 3; Cork, 7; Kerry, 9; Clare, 13; Limerick, 2; Tipperary, 8; West Meath, 7; Longford, 1; Galway, 4. Total seizure was 1540. Total net proceeds were £5815. The stock had been sold on the open market.

Mr. Johnston’s comment was “At an average of £4 per head.”

The army is being adequately rewarded. The Independent of May 19 quotes President Cosgrove as announcing that out of 70 to 75 Customs officers to be appointed, 50 of these posts are to be reserved for men in the army.

Robbery is usually resorted to by hungry men driven by the sight of hungry women and children at home. Recently three men were reported in the papers as being shot at Trim for robbery under arms, although the arms were merely used as a threat and not fired.

The notorious “Flogging Bill” was passed by the Free State House of Commons, in spite of the opposition of the Labour Party, who voiced the horror in which it is held by the people of Ireland. Forty-eight is the highest number that has voted in favour of any of its clauses. This shows that of the 123 members of the Parliament, even if we exclude the dead, only a very small and unrepresentative number of delegates were in favour of the bill.

This Act carries with it the death penalty for other offences than murder. It carries it “for threatening… or attempting to threaten,” if the man who threatens is a Republican. It gives the Government the power to have Republicans, even children, flogged, and to imprison any person known to have Republican ideas, for six months on the whim of an official. It brings us back to the times of the Penal laws, with only this difference, the Penal laws were directed against Roman Catholics, this bill is directed against Republicans.

James Connolly has written: “The political institutions of to-day are simply the coercive forces of Capitalist society.” This aptly describes the Free State Government and its machinery. Their policy is a carefully calculated one. All the forces that they can gather into their hands are employed to force on to Ireland and to root into Irish soil the social and economic system of England, known as the Capitalist  system, which strangles and makes slaves of the workers of Britain. They are attempting to eliminate Labour-Republican ideas by force, and for this purpose they have adopted such expedients as importing foreign trusts, importing scabs and blacklegs, the exportation of Government orders, the employment of military in the interests of employers during strikes, the employment of military in the interests of the landlord to seize food for rent, the arresting and imprisoning of Republicans on suspicion, and the torturing and execution of prisoners for comparatively small offences.

The Militarist and anti-Labour policy ought to convince any student of history from the materialist point of view, that the real meaning behind the acceptance and establishment by force of the Free State by certain erstwhile ardent Republicans is as simple as all other forms of conquest by violence. There is more profit for individuals in a Capitalist State than there is in a Co-operative Commonwealth, and it may better suit these gentlemen of the Free State to be the tools and subordinates of the British combine, known to the world as the British Cabinet, than to work and strive for the establishment of what the people desirea Commonwealth based on Gaelic ideals.

 

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Posted on February 4, 2018, in British state repression (general), Constance Markievicz, Corruption, Counter-revolution/civil war period, Democratic rights - general, Economy and workers' resistance, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Imperialism (generally), James Connolly, Labour Party, Prisoners - past, Public sector/cuts, Repression in 26-county state, Republicanism post-1900, Republicanism pre-1900, Revolutionary figures, Social conditions, The road to the Easter Rising, Toadyism, War for Independence period, Women, Women in republican history, Workers rights. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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