From Nationality, December 25, 1915. Griffith’s controversial views on Jews evolved throughout his life. Originally holding anti-Semitic attitudes like many other Irish nationalists of his era, Griffith would in his later career support Zionism and considered Irish-born Jews to be part of the Irish nation. The following article is a rebuke of a Kingstown Urban Councillor, J. J. Kennedy, an ‘Imperial’ Nationalist who suggested that Irish-born Jews should be prohibited from holding government positions.
Some of the Kingstown Urban Councillors—the Chairman is the brother of an eligible K.C. have had their patriotism disturbed by the non-filling of a vacancy in the stipendiary police-magistracy, and have Adopted a Resolution. In helping the adoption, Mr. J. J. Kennedy emitted the agonised wail of a stricken soul. He considered it was ‘hard luck for Irishmen to be deprived of their proper place in the government of Ireland,’ but let none imagine Mr. Kennedy was ‘pro-German’ enough to hold that the proper place of Irishmen in the government of Ireland is the same as the proper place of Frenchmen in the government of France, Germans in the government of Germany, Spaniards in the government of Spain, and Dutchmen in the government of Holland—at its head and in absolute control of all its functions. Nothing could be further from the Imperial Kennedy’s thought. The proper place of Irishmen in the government of Ireland in his estimation is in its minor poets under English—or if he prefers the inaccurate term, Imperial—management—in its Stipendiary Magistracies, Castle Under-Secretaryships and so forth.
‘As an Irish Nationalist,’ Mr. Kennedy announced, he would have more confidence in an Irish Unionist’s justice than that of a foreigner. So would we. But Mr. Kennedy must be more careful. It is part of his new creed that an Englishman is not a foreigner—and we believe it is with equal logic being taught that Russians, Serbians, Japanese, Belgians, and Italians are our kinsmen. It is hard to revolutionise nature, commonsense, and the dictionary in sixteen months, but much has been attempted, and we can cordially agree that an Englishman is no more a foreigner than a Russian. Mr. Kennedy also believes that it is to the interest of every Irishman—including Stipendiary Magistrates and Castle Under-Secretaries—to make Ireland happy, prosperous and contented. He knows that is what the English Treasury pays them their wages for—that is what the Royal Irish Constabulary exists for, and yet knowing and avowing this he most reprehensibly and illogically inquires whether it is
‘any inducement to Irishmen to keep up the British Empire when the authorities would not appoint an Irishman to the important position (sic) in the country?’
Here we have Mr. Kennedy telling us in one breath that the British Empire pays its Irish subordinates to make Ireland happy and prosperous, and in the next declaring that it offers no inducement to Irishmen to keep the affair upstanding.
Mr. Kennedy’s views that Irishmen should hold some of the small jobs connected with the English Government of Ireland does not apply to an Irishman who happens to be a Jew. As a whole he respects Jews, but they have their proper place. It is ‘in the world,’ not ‘in the government of this country.’ From which it follows that the government of this country is not of their world, and as it is obviously not of heaven, it follows in the literal, not the profane sense, that it is a damned government. We are left to wonder why Mr. Kennedy wishes Irishmen to have a part in it. The more we read the more our wonder grows, for in his next sentences Mr. Kennedy announced that it was honourable to him ‘to belong’ to the British Empire—an honour he shares with the Blackfellows, the Hottentots, and the Andaman Islanders—and yet he added that this Empire to which it was his honour to belong was not acting ‘fairly, honestly, and squarely’ to Ireland. Now, how can an Honourable Empire be Unfair, Dishonest and Crooked?
Mr. Kennedy concluded with an impressive appeal to the ‘Government’—even ‘at the eleventh hour,’ to consider whether ‘they should not try to tie tighter the strings that bound the Celt to the Saxon.’ This is a prayer the late Lieutenant Hepenstall might echo. No Saxon ever tied the strings that bound him to the Celt tighter. He sleeps the last sleep of the British Imperialist a few miles from Mr. Kennedy’s residence, and his memory as the Walking Gallows and his epitaph remain in the memory of South Dublin and all Wicklow imperishable.
‘Here lies the bones of Hepenstall,
Judge, Jury, Gallows, Rope, and all.’
We and three-fourths of the people of Ireland have no interest whatever in the fortunes of the Dublin Police Magistracy or the destined successor of Sir Matthew Nathan. We do not know of one Nationalist Irishman who objects to Sir Matthew Nathan because of the religion he professes, or who holds the creed that an Irish Jew should be ineligible for any office he was competent to fill in an Irish Government. Neither do any of them believe it would be a comfort to be hanged by an Irish Catholic or Irish Protestant hangman instead of by an Anglo-Israelite. For our part, we have never heard an honest and intelligent Irishman complain that he was oppressed by an English Jew appointed to Dublin Castle, as he had a constitutional right to be, instead of being oppressed by an Irish Catholic or an Irish Protestant set over him by England. Their complaint is that they are oppressed by foreigners and the servants of foreigners, and it is only due to the English Government in Ireland to add that those who serve it in the essential positions in Ireland are quite free to profess any creed so long as they keep clear of all religion.