James Connolly: What should Irish people do during the war?
James Connolly attempts to dispel the notion that Ireland has either 'natural enemies' or 'natural allies' amongst any of the countries currently at war Photo: www.census.nationalarchives.ie/exhibition/dublin/

James Connolly: What should Irish people do during the war?

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Published: 8 August 1914

Writing in the Irish Worker, the Labour leader, James Connolly, has published the following analysis of the duties of Irish people following the outbreak of war in Europe:

'What ought to be the attitude of the working class democracy of Ireland in face of the present crisis? In the first place, we ought to clear our minds of all the political cant which would tell us that we have either ‘natural enemies’ or ‘natural allies’ in any of the powers now warring.

When it is said that we ought to unite to protect our shores against the ‘foreign enemy’, I confess to be unable to follow that line of reasoning, as I know of no foreign enemy of this country except the British Government and know that it is not the British Government that is meant.

In the second place we ought to seriously consider that the evil effects of this war upon Ireland will be simply incalculable, that it will cause untold suffering and misery amongst the people and that as this misery and suffering has been brought upon us because of our enforced partnership with a nation whose government never consulted us in the matter we are therefore perfectly at liberty morally to make any bargain we may see fit, or that may present itself in the course of events.

Should a German army land in Ireland tomorrow we should be perfectly justified in joining it if by so doing we could rid this country once and for all from its connection with the Brigand Empire that drags us unwillingly into this war.

Should the working class of Europe rather than slaughter each other for the benefit of kings and financiers, proceed tomorrow to erect barricades all over Europe, to break up bridges and destroy the transport service that war might be abolished, we should be perfectly justified in following such a glorious example and contributing our aid to the final dethronement of the vulture classes that rule and rob the world.'

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