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Ireland appeals to America on its Independence Day
The Allied Representatives at the Belgian GHQ saluting the American flag during the US Independence Day celebrations. Houthem, 4 July 1918. Photo: Imperial War Museum

Ireland appeals to America on its Independence Day

Belfast, 5 July 1918 - America celebrated its Independence Day yesterday.

It was also marked in Ireland. In Belfast, at the Lord Mayor's suggestion, American flags were displayed by businesses and private residences. They were also flown on many of the principal thoroughfares in the city.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, residents welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate their ‘appreciation of the chivalrous manner in which the great Republic of the West has associated herself with Britain and her Allies in the great fight for freedom and righteousness’.

The late Prof. Ronan Fanning in discussion with RTÉ's David McCullagh about the impact the USA joining the First World War in 1917 had on the Irish Question

Irish nationalists have likewise used the occasion of Fourth of July to identify themselves with American values and principles. An address, issued by the Mansion House Conference, is believed to have been delivered yesterday to President Wilson in Washington. The statement, dated 11 June, sets out the case for Irish independence, explains the Irish argument against conscription, and condemns the ‘present outbreak of malignity’ against Ireland on the part of the British authorities.

‘During the American Revolution the champions of your liberties appealed to the Irish Parliament against British aggression and asked for a sympathetic judgement on their action. Today it is our turn to appeal to the people of America...’

‘Well assured are we that you, Mr President, whose exhortations have inspired the Small Nations of the world with fortitude to defend to the last their liberties against oppressors, will not be found among those who condemn Ireland for a determination that is irrevocable, to continue steadfastly in the course mapped out for her, no matter what the odds, by an unexampled unity of National judgement and National Right.’

The statement, described as a ‘historic document’ by the Irish Independent, was originally supposed to have been submitted in person to the President by Laurence O’Neill, the Lord Mayor of Dublin. However, this plan was scuppered by the Foreign Office, which allowed O’Neill a passport but imposed the ‘intolerable stipulation’ that his files should first be submitted to the Lord Lieutenant, Sir John French, for censorship, so that President Wilson might only be able to peruse the government's version of the conference's opinions.

[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.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

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