Sylvia Pankhurst was a leader of the struggle for women’s right to vote in Britain. Primarily involved in organising working class women in the East End of London, she was increasingly attracted to Marxism. Her support for workers’ struggles led to her being expelled from the bourgeois-feminist Women’s Social and Political Union, led by her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel. While the feminist family members turned into warmongers in the First World War, Sylvia organised against the war on a working class and anti-imperialist basis. She was one of the small handful of major figures on the British left who supported the national liberation struggle in Ireland, including the 1916 Rising. This article was originally published in the Women’s Dreadnought of May 13, 1916, the day after the last of the executions of leaders of the Rising. The paper soon after changed its name to Workers Dreadnought. The text below is taken from the Marxist Internet Archive.
by Sylvia Pankhurst
Justice can make but one reply to the Irish rebellion, and that is to demand that Ireland shall be allowed to, govern herself.
Differences of opinion in England, Scotland, or Wales as to what measure of self-government Ireland is to have ought not to affect the matter – by the “freedom of small nations” which the British Government has so bombastically sworn to defend, this is essentially a question for Ireland herself to decide. Let a popular vote be taken in Ireland as to whether, she shall be an independent, self-governing republic, or an autonomous part of the British Empire, like Australia and New Zealand. That is the only method by which the Irish difficulty can be solved and Ireland learn content.
The “firm and vigorous administration” which The Times demands for Ireland, which we suspect is but another term for coercion, and such suggestions as that of the professing Liberal, Professor Longford, that conscription shall be applied to Ireland, and that the Irish Rebels shall be set free on condition that they join the Army, will only lead to Read the rest of this entry