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100 years ago: Mr de Valera says no

by
20 August 2021

August 19th, 1921.

ALL other news of the week seems trivial by contrast with the publication of the correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr de Valera [President of Dáil Éireann]. The British Government has offered to the Irish people an independence which a few years ago would have been impossible. Precisely what are the causes of the changed mind of our countrymen we need not inquire, though we do not doubt that the Government was able to make its offer as a consequence of the advocacy of dominion Home Rule in important sections of the Press. That advocacy was begun, and to some extent continued, in the teeth of angry protest and resentment. Those who have laboured for peace in Ireland are the first to recognize that the Prime Minister’s letter left nothing in reserve with which to bargain further. It conveyed terms that were generous beyond expectation. In that sense it is complete. We regret deeply the answer of Mr de Valera and particularly the tone of its expression. Though at the time of writing the Dail has not made its decision public, we find it hard to believe that it will show itself entirely irreconcilable. If it does the friends of Ireland in this country will be in the unhappy situation of being entirely silenced. That will be an ill thing for Ireland. Rejection of the terms will cut the ground completely from under those who have believed in the justice of the claim of the people of Ireland to national autonomy. It will also delight the by no means negligible body of opinion which is eager to see Ireland subjugated by force. They will then have logic on their side and no obstacle in their path.


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