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‘In jail for you, get them out’ – Sinn Féin demonstrations demand prisoner releases
A view of a meeting on O'Connell Street in Dublin, calling for the Sinn Féin prisoners' release Photo: Irish Independent, 6 January 1918

‘In jail for you, get them out’ – Sinn Féin demonstrations demand prisoner releases

Dublin, 6 January 1919 - Irish republicans prisoners must be released – immediately. That’s the message from the Sinn Féin party, which, since its landslide election victory last month, has been highlighting the cause of its members imprisoned in British prisons.

The official Sinn Féin newspaper, Nationality, has stated this week: ‘The first thing the people of Ireland have to do is to see that their interned leaders are released.’

‘Almost half of the elected representatives of the Irish people are in British jails today. British tyranny in Ireland must cease. Definitely and defiantly we must tell the British Government that it cannot go on doing as it likes in Ireland. ‘Britishism’ must follow ‘Prussianism’.’

Following on from that, hundreds of meetings were believed to have been held yesterday throughout the country to demand the release of Irish prisoners. On Dublin’s O’Connell Street, the attendance was reported to have run into the thousands, with crowds marching to their meeting place behind a band and huge banner bearing the words: ‘In jail for you, get them out.’

Similar scenes were repeated across the country, including at Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, where Count Plunkett MP delivered a speech in which he said his comrades in Birmingham Prison had told him that there was work to be done outside and that they, the prisoners, would ‘endure anything that England inflicted if it was for the good of Ireland’.

Since the Easter Rising, Sinn Féin candidates and elected officials have often been arrested and imprisoned. This was a poster used during William T. Cosgrave's successful campaign for a by-election in Kilkenny in August,1917 (Image: National Library of Ireland, EPH E30)

[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.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.