Redmond: Ireland more inflamed than at any time since 1916 Rising
Is there a 'hidden hand' at work in Ireland
Westminster - 23 October 1917 - Speaking to a packed House of Commons today, Mr John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, moved a motion deploring the policies of both the Irish Executive Government and the Irish military authorities.
Mr Redmond also demanded, in the interest of both Ireland and the Empire, that a ‘favourable atmosphere’ be created to allow the Irish Convention successfully conclude its business.
The motion was comfortably defeated by 211 votes to 78, but the speech put on record the concern of the country’s largest constitutional party that the government’s current conduct in Ireland poses the ‘gravest danger of a destruction of the Convention’.
Mr Redmond accused the authorities of repeatedly going out of their way to challenge Sinn Féin, and by doing so they had irritated the public with ‘tactless, unnecessary, and perfectly silly measures of aggression’. He added that they had ‘succeeded in inflaming passions in Ireland to probably a worse pitch than at any time since the Rising in 1916’.
In a cryptic response to Mr Redmond, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Mr Duke, commented that the question was not so much about whether the Government was safeguarding the Convention, but whether there was ‘some sinister design to break down the Convention, some hidden hand, some silly and unconscious instrument which might be used for its destruction’.
Response in Britain
Little of what has been occurring in Ireland appears to have registered with British people. Coverage of Ireland in the main London newspaper has been conspicuous by its absence. In a forthcoming article for The English Review, Austin Harrison argues that a ‘curious ban on Irish information’ prevails in the English press, a point which, he says, is borne out by the reporting on the death of Thomas Ashe.
As far as the readers in Britain were aware, this was no more than the death of a Sinn Féin prisoner which was reported in a single paragraph. There was nothing on the fact that Ashe had died from the effects of forcible feeding.
‘Not one Englishman in a million probably bothering about the tragedy enacted in Ireland for the good reason that for some unexplained reason he was not permitted to know anything about it, and across the Channel all Ireland in a state of suppressed emotion and bitterness.’
[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.]