From Sinn Féin, August 24, 1909.
We give the Nation to-day a daily journal. The parties in Ireland have their organs – the Nation hitherto has had none. We support the policy of Sinn Féin, because we are convinced that of the policies before this country it is the most effective. But we do not confound the policy with the Nation. Sinn Féin is not the Nation. Parliamentarianism is not the Nation, Unionism is not the Nation – all are but weapons offered to the Nation; and, by their effectiveness in the Nation’s service, they must be judged and retained or discarded. The Nation belongs exclusively to none of us, Nationalists or Unionists, Catholics or Protestants, rich or poor – it belongs to us all, and it is greater than us all. The party comes and goes – the Nation remains for ever. The quarrels of the parties of the past in Ireland are of no living account to us to-day. What we now ask about past movements is what they achieved for the Nation. What our children will ask about the movements of to-day will be the same question. It will be of no more interest to them than the passing breeze whether Sinn Féin scored a point over Parliamentarianism, or whether Parliamentarianism scored a point over Unionism. What victories did they win for the Nation? That is the question they will ask, and by the reply we shall be judged. How did the parties in Ireland in 1909 make Ireland – the Ireland of us all – happier, freer, stronger, more prosperous and more respected? In 1929 that is all the people of Ireland will be interested in knowing about the parties of to-day. In your hearts, fellow-countrymen, you know this to be true.
Parnell never said a wiser thing than that Ireland could not spare the services of a single one of her sons and daughters. Ireland is poor and weak; her enemies are strong and powerful. Any policy that would prevent an Irishman or an Irishwoman working for his or her country’s good, is a policy that must tend to keep Ireland poor and weak. That intolerance has been the sin of nearly all parties in Ireland, is a fact none of us can deny. That this intolerance has cost Ireland the services of thousands of her best men, is a fact we affirm. So fatuous a policy will never be ours. We recognise that the people of Ireland as a whole, whatever their party, whatever their creed, whatever their class may be, are at least as patriotic as the people of the thriving nations. We recognize that the great mass of those who support Parliamentarianism or Unionism are as honest in their belief and as sincere in their desire to serve Ireland as their brethren who support the Sinn Féin policy.
Were we to believe otherwise we would believe that the bulk of the Irish people cared nothing for their country – and no one who knows Ireland could believe so base a thing. Behind all the fierceness, bitterness, and intolerance of party lies a deep and passionate patriotism, and it is that patriotism to which we appeal – to which we shall give an articulate organ – on which we shall rebuild, in the manly love of comrades, the Nation.
In a sentence, reversing the custom that has long prevailed in our public affairs, we shall seek to find points of agreement and not points of difference, and we shall support every honest effort and give full credit to our countrymen of other political parties for all the work they perform for the common good. We shall refuse to regard any Irish party as our enemies. They may be our opponents – they shall not be our enemies. Our enemies are those who govern, and misgovern, this country against the will of its people – not any section of our own countrymen.
We pledge ourselves to-day to support every man and every party – however divergent their opinions may be from ours on other points – in any work to the credit and honour of our common Nation, and to defend the right of the man who disagrees with us on one point to be heard on the other nine. Ireland again a Nation has been the dream of generations; it will never be a fact until we all – whether our party colour be orange, green, or blue – realize that we are Irishmen before we are party men. We believe that sincere men of all parties – and the sincere men are a great majority in every Irish party – are realizing this to-day; that the old evil and absurd policy of driving men out of public life because they cannot subscribe to all the tenets of the predominant party is dying, and that the ideal of Thomas Davis – an Ireland in which its people, differing widely in policy and methods, are united in the love and service of their country – is growing in the minds of men on both sides of the Boyne. We are here to realize that ideal, and we claim the support of all our countrymen in the work we have undertaken.