Piaras Béaslaí jailed for Killarney speech
Killarney, 12 April 1918 - Piaras Béaslaí, editor of Fáinne an Lae – the official organ of the Gaelic League – has been charged with inciting persons to engage in unlawful assembly and unlawful drilling, and with obstructing the police in the execution of their duties.
In the Northern Police Court, Mr O’Flaherty of the Chief Crown Solicitor’s Office, prosecuting, said that Béaslaí delivered a speech in Killarney on 17 March in the presence of 2,000-3,000 people, among them upwards of 100 Volunteers in uniform. In the course of the speech the accused allegedly incited the people to engage in unlawful drilling.
The accused further proposed a resolution in reference to the sovereign independence of Ireland and stated that Ireland had as good a right to independence as Belgium, France or Germany. When Mr O’Flaherty related this information to the judge, Béaslaí intervened to remark: ‘Hear, hear.’
The judge was unwilling to send Béaslaí to prison, instead offering him the alternative of being bound to the peace for two years in £50 bail. But Béaslaí rejected the offer, stating that as a soldier of the Irish Republic he did not recognise a court set up by a foreign government.
He was then sentenced to four months’ imprisonment.
[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.]