THE STRUGGLE OF THE IRISH PEOPLE – 1921

IRISH ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES ADDRESS TO CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

Adopted at January 1921 Session of Dail Eireann

‘The nation which we represent enjoyed for over a thousand
years the life of an independent sovereign State among the States of Europe. Then a neighboring nation — England — which had received the benefits of civilization and education first from our hands, lost to gratitude and honor and burning with lust for our possessions, burst in upon us as a conscienceless invader, and through the course of many generations strove to subvert our polity, annihilate our language and our culture, suppress our industry, ruin our agriculture, steal our trade and our commerce, deprive us of the advantages of our geographical position, cut us off from our ancient intercourse with other peoples, rob our revenues, and erase our name from the roll of nations’

Irish FlagTHE STRUGGLE OF THE IRISH PEOPLE.

To the elected Representatives of the people of the United States of America:

We, the elected representatives of Ireland, recognizing in you the elected Representatives in Congress of the people of the United States of America, our brethren in the common effort to hasten the day when the nations may dwell together in justice and in harmony, have the honor to greet and to address you.

1. We feel certain that the struggle of our people — the people of
Ireland — against the aggression of England is not passing unob-
served by you. We covet your esteem as we would value your
sympathy and support and fearful least you be misled by the wide-
spread, persistent, and insidious propaganda of falsehood through
which England seeks to create prejudice against us — distorting the character of the contest, we hasten to lay before you facts, so that correctly informed you may be able to judge justly.

2. The nation which we represent enjoyed for over a thousand
years the life of an independent sovereign State among the States of Europe. Then a neighboring nation — England — which had received the benefits of civilization and education first from our hands, lost to gratitude and honor and burning with lust for our possessions, burst in upon us as a conscienceless invader, and through the course of many generations strove to subvert our polity, annihilate our language and our culture, suppress our industry, ruin our agriculture, steal our trade and our commerce, deprive us of the advantages of our geographical position, cut us off from our ancient intercourse with other peoples, rob our revenues, and erase our name from the roll of
nations.

3. Failing to achieve these ends after centuries of criminal effort,
this nation entered into solemn treaties acknowledging our national independence and contracting to respect it for all time, but this meant merely until our national defenses were dismantled. Then treaties and contracts were treated as scraps of paper and the compact treacherously and bloodily violated.

4. All the resources of a powerful and ruthless tyranny have been
employed since in a desperate attempt to utterly destroy us as a
nation. In the course of little over a century we have been robbed
of wealth amounting to an empire’s ransom, whilst within living memory a population of eight and a half millions which, with the normal rate of increase, would have given us to-day a population of some seventeen millions, has been reduced by enemy acts to four millions —a crime unique among civilized nations. Our island is surpassingly fertile, generously endowed by nature with every advantage and facility for industry, for trade, and for commerce, capable of supporting in happiness and prosperity twenty millions of souls, yet only last year it was publicly declared by the official head of the usurping English Government that it was the considered pohcy of that Government to banish from our country the young and strong — the flower of the four millions that yet remain.

5. The Irish people have consistently resisted this infamous
tyranny to the utmost of their power. Almost every generation
has witnessed at least one armed uprising, and when the people
were too weak to resist in arms they never ceased to make clear
their hatred of the rule of the foreigner. Their oppressor’s declara-
tions that the national sentiment of Ireland is guilty of “disloyalty”
to English rule has been a constant acknowledgment of this attitude. The attitude and the desire of the present generation has been made manifest beyond question.

6. On December 14, 1918, mindful of the principles professed by
the Government of England during the Great War and seeing in the
application of these principles a ready and a just means of arriving
at a peaceful and final settlement of their own centuried struggle, the Irish people declared by an overwhelming majority at the polls for an independent Irish republic.

7. Acting on the mandate thus expressly given by this national
plebiscite, carried out under the forms and laws prescribed by Eng-
land herself, the people’s elected representatives assembled on January 21, 1919, formally proclaimed the nation’s independence and declared the republic of Ireland duly established.

8. This legitimate application of the principle of national self-
determiination, this peaceful and orderly exercise of their moral and democratic right by the Irish people, was met by the British Government with an immediate and murderous exercise of brutal force. Troops and engines of destruction that for four years had been engaged on the Continent of Europe in the cause of the rights of small nations, it was said, and the fundamental principles of democracy, were rushed to Ireland and used to trample on those very rights and to strangle that very principle in the name of which they had been enrolled and employed.

9. The reign of intensified military terrorism that was thus insti-
tuted, although rigorously persisted in, did not intimidate the voters at the ensuing municipal and rural elections for local governing bodies. The homes of the people were raided systematically by day and by night, individual electors were murdered by bayonet and bullet, men were taken by the thousand and dragged off to English jails, the fears of the women and children were mercilessly played upon, but the terror failed. The year, instead of weakening, increased the strength of the Irish people’s determination, and the republican representation showed an increase of 15 per cent on the previous elections though the system of ”proportional representation” had been applied with the express design of reducing it.

10. To this further peaceful and constitutional action on our part,
the foreign usurping Government, replied with a still fiercer and more vicious brutality.

11. The national, political, cultural, and industrial associations of
the people were proscribed, and membership deemed a crime. The
right of public assembly was abolished and the press gagged. The
elected representatives of the nation were declared a criminal body. All of their number with two exceptions were seized from time to time and imprisoned in English jails where two have already met their deaths.

12. For over two years the people of Ireland bore patiently these
ever-increasing burdens and persecutions without committing a single act of violence, either in self-defense or in reprisal. In that period, thousands were torn from their homes and cast into prison, many died as a result of prison treatment, and seven unarmed citizens were willfully murdered by the armed agents of the English Government, which openly incited the murders and encouraged the murderers with rewards and promotion.

13. But this patience of the people at last became exhausted.
Abandoned, as it seemed, by the world, they turned to defend themselves as best they could. The British Government then put aside every restraint of civilization and deliberately resolved to proceed without regard for life or property. So vile was the policy projected that their regular troops could not be relied upon to carry it out. The ex-convict from the jails, however, and the degenerate back from the trenches, in whose breast the savagery of the late war had extinguished the last sparks of humanity, could be depended upon to have few qualms in dealing with their victims, and to cause little embarrassment to those in high authority amongst their employers by any nice regard for nominal discipline. A special force of these fiends was accordingly embodied. Allured by the prospect of an easy prey and unlimited loot, they were gathered together from every
corner of Britain, and operating with the whole British Army in their rear as a cover and a protection, they were let loose upon an unarmed and defenseless populace.

14. An orgy of murder and robbery began. Neither age nor sex nor
profession was respected. Old men of 80 and little children of 8,
sick and crippled boys, mothers and wives, even anointed ministers
of God, were indiscriminately murdered — the breadwinner before the eyes of his family and the mother with the child at her breast at the cottage door. Houses, offices, workshops, factories and creameries were plundered and destroyed. Towns and villages were sacked and burned down. The home of the farmer and the home of the artisan, the shop, the store, the office were looted and given to the flames.

15. Whole districts were devastated and the produce destroyed in
the hope of famishing the population. Individual citizens were held
up at the point of the revolver or bayonet and robbed on the public
streets, and wlule these outrages were being perpetrated every act of self-defense on the part of the victims was advertised by English
propagandists as a crime, and the murderers and robbers proclaimed champions of law and order.

16. At the present moment these abominations continue unabated. The English Government’s jails are being filled with our countrymen, some of whom have been murdered therein, and others put to the torture. New capital offenses are being created. The simple possession of firearms is a charge on which several Irishmen have been executed. Prominent citizens are carried as hostages by English troops in their military expeditions against our people, and their lives forfeit if the unit with which they are traveling be molested. The elected representatives of the nation, the mayors and the presidents of our municipal and urban councils, the chairmen of our county and rural councils — all the chief officers on whom devolve the direction of national and local administration are made objects of special attack, the uniform purpose being to prevent constructive legislation, and
to bring our domestic public affairs into chaos. Such, for example,
was the purpose that lately prompted the murder of one lord mayor of Cork, the imprisonment till death of another lord mayor of Cork, and the imprisonment until his health was permanently impaired of the lord mayor of Dublin.

17. This demoniacal war upon our community is being waged with
no other provocation than our insistence on our national right, and
our faithful adherence to a principle which even the demon’s masters themselves have pretended to serve.

18. The Irish people claim no more than their right as a nation
to determine freely for themselves how they shall be governed. We, their official spokesmen — their elected parliament and government call mankind to witness that our people have ever been ready to welcome peace with England on that just basis.

19. On no other basis is peace possible. We shall not surrender
our national right — nor will force compel us.

Our cause is the common cause of humankind. To that cause we
have pledged ourselves and our people to remain faithful unto death.

You, the representatives of a sister nation, can not, we feel, be
insensible to the issue.

Adopted at the January session of Dail Eireann, 1921.

(Signed)

Eamon de Valera, president, deputy for East Clare and
East Mayo; Arthur Griffith, deputy for East Cavan
and Northwest Tyrone; James Lennon, deputy for
Carlow County; PaiJ Galligan, deputy for West
Cavan; Brian O’Higgins, deputy for West Clare;
J. J. Walsh, deputy for Cork City; Liam de Roiste,
deputy for Cork City; P. O’Keeffe, deputy for North
Cork; T. Hunter, deputy for North East Cork;
David Kent, deputy for East Cork; John Hayes,
deputy for West Cork; Michael Collins, deputy for
South Cork; Joseph O’Doherty, deputy for North
Donegal; Joseph Sweeney, deputy for West Donegal;
P. J. Ward, deputy for South Donegal; li. J. Mul-
cahy, deputy for Clontarf, Dublin City; John T
O’Kelly, deputy for College Green, Dublin City
Philip Shanahan, deputy for Harbour, Dublin City
Joseph McGrath, deputy for St. James, Dublin City
Michael Staines, deputy for St. Michans, Dublin City;
Thomas Kelly, deputy for St. Stephens Green,
Dublin City;

Constance de Markieviz, deputy for St.
Patricks, Dublin City; Eoin MacNeill, deputy for
National University and Derry City; Frank Lawless,
deput}^ for North County Dublin; George Gavan
Duffy, deputy for South County Dublin; Desmond
Fitzgerald, deputy for Pembroke, County Dublin;
John O’Mahony, deputy for South Fermanagh;
Padruig O’Maille, deputy for Connemara, County
Galway; Brian Cusack, deput}^ for North Galway;
Liam Mellowes, deputy for East Galway and North
Meath; Francis Fahy, deputy for South Galway;
J. Crowley, deputy for North” Kerry; Austin Stack,
deputy for West Kerry; Fionan Lynch, deputy for
South Kerry; Piaras Beaslai, deputy for East Kerry;
Daniel Bucklev, deputy for North Kildare; Art
O’Connor, deputy for South Kildare; W. T. Cosgrave,
deputy for North Kilkenny; James O’Mara, deputy
for South Kilkenny; Patrick McCartan, deputy for
Offaly (Kings County) ; James N. Dolan, deputy for
Leitrim County; M. P. Colivet, deputy for Limerick
City;

Cornelius Collins, deputy for West Limerick;
Richard Hayes, deputy for East Limerick; Joseph
McGuinness, deputy for Longford County; J. J.
O’Kelly, deputy for Louth County; J. Crowley,
deputy for North Mayo; Joseph McBride, deputy
for West Mayo; William Sears, deputy for South
Mayo; E. J. Duggan, deputy for South Meath;
Ernest Blythe, deputy for North Monaghan; John
MacEntee,^ deputy for South Monaghan; Kevin
O’Higgins, deputy for Leix (Queens County) ; George
Noble Count Plunkett, deputy for North Roscom-
mon; Henry Boland, deputy for South Roscommon;
J. J. Clancy, deputy for North Sligo; Alex McCabe,
deputy for South Sligo; Joseph McDonagh, deputy
for North Tipperary; James A, Burke, deputy for
Middle Tipperary; P. J. Moloney, deputy for South
Tipperary; Cathal Brugha, deputy for Waterford
County; Laurence Ginnell, deputy for Westmeath
County; James Ryan, deputy for South Wexford;
Robert C. Barton, deputy for West Wicklow; John
R. Etchingham, deputy for East Wicklow.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

WASHINGTON
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 1921