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Sinn Féin hold meeting in Mansion House to determine future plans
A detail from a republican calendar for 1919 featuring some of the executed leaders of Easter 1916 Photo: National Library of Ireland

Sinn Féin hold meeting in Mansion House to determine future plans

Dublin, 9 January 1919 - The Sinn Féin party held a meeting in Dublin’s Mansion House yesterday which many of its newly elected MPs attended.

The meeting registered a protest at the continued incarceration of some 37 of its elected members. It also discussed the issue of the constitution of Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) - the constituent assembly it pledged to establish in its recent election manifesto. The meeting took the decision to invite the elected members of all Irish constituencies to Dáil Éireann, the opening date of which is to be announced at a later time.

Amongst those present were Count Plunkett MP, who chaired the meeting; Seán T. O’Kelly, MP for College Green; J.J. Walsh and Liam De Róiste, MPs for Cork City, Michael Collins, MP for South Cork; Eoin MacNeill, MP for Derry City; and Kevin O’Higgins, MP for Queen’s County.

Absent from the meeting were Diarmuid Lynch, MP for South East Cork; Dr Patrick McCartan, MP for King’s County and Liam Mellows, MP for North Meath and East Galway. All three men are currently in the United States.

Invitation to the first meeting of Dáil Éireann 2 January 1919. (Image: National Library of Ireland, ILB 300)

Police raids
Sinn Féin’s newly acquired political strength has not been sufficient to deter police interest in their activities, however.

Last week the party’s headquarters at 6 Harcourt Street were raided yet again. About 30 uniformed policemen entered the building mid-morning and, in a search that lasted over an hour, seized many documents.

As well as the policemen conducting the search inside the building, a dozen more were posted at the front door and more groups of police were positioned on adjoining streets. A crowd of Sinn Féin supporters gathered outside and sang songs, but no trouble was reported. In fact Harry Boland, MP for South Roscommon, smilingly remarked that the only result of the raid would be to keep staff working an extra four or five hours to catch up on their work.

According to Sinn Féin officials ‘nothing of any particular importance or value was seized’, in the raid. The documents taken included copies of Woodrow Wilson’s speeches, which, as the Sinn Féin officials point out, can be easily retrieved from elsewhere.

Other documents included a Draft of Constitution Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann, and a draft copy of the ‘Declaration of Ireland’s Independence’ along with an accompanying message to be issued to the free nations of the world.

The Belfast Newsletter has warned the British government to take a strong line with Sinn Féin, whose demand for independence, they insist, can never be conceded. They warn that there ‘is no room for more fooling’ and that the only way for bloodshed to be avoided in Ireland is for a ‘resolute display of government, and by no parlaying with treason’.

[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.