From The United Irishman, August 4, 1900.

The summer time is passing away. Shall the winter of 1900, shall the dawn of a new century come and find us still without a National organisation in Ireland?

I trust not. If the hopes we cherish are to be realised we must come together, and work unitedly—work with a clear purpose and a strong intent towards a definite end, and that end, the independence of our country.

Scattered over Ireland to-day are a few associations bravely working for the old cause and the old ideals—working to uplift the mind and heart and soul of the country, but the good achieved by those bodies is necessarily limited by the fact that they are isolated. United action is difficult when no central body and no bond of union exists between the various Nationalist bodies in Ireland save a common object. To achieve great results we must have a common policy as well as a common object. We should be able to act together, and to act simultaneously when the occasion demanded—and the spirit of brotherhood should permeate us.

The Freemason, no matter from what end of the earth he comes, finds friends and sympathy everywhere. We in Ireland dislike Freemasonry, but why should we be less brotherly to our countrymen than, say, the American Freemason is to the Spaniard? Why should the Dublin Nationalist feel himself something of a stranger in Cork, or the Corkman feel an alien in Belfast? It is because we have no National Bond, no brotherhood of Irish Nationalists here where it is needed most. It is through this cause we waste our lives and our talents, and grow despondent as youth leaves us. We see the mountebank and the charlatan gulling the people even as their fathers gulled them before, and we blame the dupes of the impostors, forgetting that it is ourselves—we, the young men who can think and act and feel—who are really to blame; forgetting that the people, a score of times misled, are still true, and have ever been true to the idea of Ireland a nation. If the vulgar and ignorant, the cunning and selfish, the men with lungs of leather and cheeks of brass, lead the nation on to ruin, it is we, who by our supineness are to blame, not the mobile multitude which, if we refuse to speak to it, must needs listen and applaud Boauerges.

Before the twentieth century is upon us—before the century of Young Ireland is dead—I hope to see a National organisation in Ireland, such an organisation as Davis would have wished to see. An organisation of young men with blood in their veins and fire in their hearts, men who know that this country is their country, and that its honour and weal is their honour and weal, men who can love and hate, men of fixed purpose and unwavering determination, men who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to feel—men who can think and act and plan, and men whom neither danger nor difficulty can terrify or dishearten from pursuing their purpose.

There are at present amongst us a number of societies doing real and valuable work for Ireland. It needs but the establishment of a central authority to bring them into touch. There seems to me no difficulty in the way of the erection of that authority. The delicate question is, how far should that authority extend? Personally, I would be strongly in favour of limiting its scope, and allowing to every association which recognised it, the utmost liberty of action, consistent with the maintenance of the policy which the central body should promulgate. Let us assume such a central authority is in existence, and let us assume that its object in existence is to help on the re-establishment of Ireland as a sovereign and independent nation. As some of the means to that end it would require all groups or individuals associated with it to aid in the diffusion of knowledge on all matters Irish, to undertake the education of the people in the history, literature, and language of their country, to teach them to appreciate Irish art, and to induce them to study the resources of Ireland—military as well as economic, and to revive throughout the land the spirit of brotherhood which animated the United Irishmen. I do not suggest, nor do I think it desirable, that any existing national organisation should change its name and call itself a branch of this hypothetical central body. It is not a new organisation that is wanted, but a federation of the existing ones. The programme I have outlined is practically the programme, nominally at least, of every national body with literary pretensions in Ireland. Beyond the adoption of such a programme, amplified, of course, to include the encouragement, revival, and practice of Irish music, dancing, and sports, the discountenancing of English ideas, manners, and customs—not because they are foreign (for there are many things which it would benefit us to learn and assimilate from the foreigner), but because they are English, and, therefore, under the political circumstances, a menace to our national individuality, even when not intrinsically bad in themselves—beyond the adoption of such a programme no affiliated body should be in any way bound or tied by the central authority. That authority should alone be empowered to see that the programme laid down by it for the guidance of affiliated societies was properly carried out, and its authority should end there.

There are certain other points in connection with such an organisation which I consider would, if not absolutely necessary, be certainly beneficial to it. Firstly, I would have every member declare himself unreservedly an Irish Nationalist. For years past the word Nationalist has been sadly abused, and the man who shouted for cheap land and the man who yelled for Home Rule told the simple people they were Nationalists and the people believed them. Let it be clearly understood that Home Ruler and Nationalist mean wholly opposite and irreconcilable things. The Home Ruler acknowledges the right of England to govern this country, while he demands facilities for dealing with purely local Irish matters in Ireland, and for that purpose seeks the erection of a legislative body in Dublin. In return for this concession, for so he terms it, he guarantees the loyalty and devotion of the Irish people to England, and their readiness to share in the turpitude of the British Empire. The Nationalist, on the other hand, totally rejects the claim of England or any other country to rule over or interfere with the destinies of Ireland. I would have the declaration of political faith made in order to prevent the hypocrite and the self-seeker from creeping into the ranks. Next, I would have every member of any one society or body affiliated, considered as an honorary member of all other societies or bodies—that is, one entitled to attend any save the private business meetings of other societies, though, of course, not entitled to vote or speak on business matters. I, perhaps, should repeat that my suggestion is a federation of National societies, working on a common programme, and having a common centre rather than a new organisation, and that no society would be under any necessity to change its name and constitution, save in so far as the latter might be out of harmony with the programme and policy enunciated by the central body. A member, therefore, of one affiliated body travelling on business or pleasure would be entitled to look for friendship and assistance wherever another affiliated body might exist, and I would further suggest, that the members should in every way, consistent with the programme which they are pledged to carry out, give practical evidence of the spirit of brotherhood in them, by rendering support to each other in business and in illness.

I am writing hastily and under some difficulties, so I cannot enter fully into matters of detail. I believe the central body should meet in Dublin, and be elected annually at a gathering of delegates from the various affiliated societies, and that on all matters embraced in the programme laid down by it, it should have power to speak authoritatively, but that outside that, it should exercise no control over the affiliated societies. I would suggest that each affiliated society should make itself thoroughly acquainted with the history, traditions, biography, topography, natural resources, and general possibilities of its district, and thus become the centre of enlightenment and education for the people. Moreover, it should be the duty of the central body to select each year half-a-dozen lecturers who would in turn, during the winter months, visit each affiliated society and lecture before it. But, as I have said, these are matters of detail, which once such a body as I have suggested was in being could easily be arranged.