John Devoy claims Roger Casement to blame for Rising’s failure
New York, 23 March 1918 - New York-based John Devoy, editor of the recently suppressed Gaelic American has claimed credit for being the key individual behind the ‘German Sinn Féiner’ efforts to launch a revolt in Ireland in 1916.
The claim comes in a letter, a copy of which was published last month in the New York World.
The letter, discovered on the premises of Lawrence DeLacey at the time of his arrest in California in August 1917, is highly critical of the role played by Sir Roger Casement who, Devoy alleges, had nothing more to do with arranging the German support for the rebellion than the ‘man in the moon’.
Furthermore, the letter claims that the capture – in the days prior to the Rising – of the vessel carrying arms at Tralee did not necessarily scupper plans for the Rising as other shipments would have been sent.
It was Casement who did that by sending a message to Eoin MacNeill to stop the Rising after his landing on Good Friday. MacNeill got it on the Saturday and issued his countermanding order.
The letter reads:
‘From our experience of a year of his (Casement’s) utter impracticality... we knew he would meddle... to such an extent as to spoil things, but we did not dream that he would ruin everything as he has done. He was obsessed with the idea that he was a wonderful leader, and that nothing could be done without him.’
[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]