From Sinn Féin, 2 May, 1914.
The ‘Irish Times’ suspects that there is no Nationalist who is not proud that Irishmen have successfully defeated the British Government and run a cargo of arms ashore. There is ground for this Unionist suspicion. It is tyranny to forbid the citizen to have and to carry arms. The right to bear arms is the first right of civilised manhood. Arms are the ultimate guarantee of life, liberty and security. The Ulster Volunteers did well when they violated the English edict which would keep Irishmen disarmed while the meanest Englishman may arm himself to the teeth. Moreover, the Ulster Unionists are doing more at present to injure the prestige—and therefore the power—of England, than Nationalist Ireland has been able to do in ten years, for which we regard their proceedings with no unfriendly eye. They have shown Germany that even with a British fleet specially detached to watch the Northern Coast of Ireland, arms (and equally as well an invading force) may be landed in the North without interference or discovery. As to the English sailors who are paid and armed to act as coastguards along our shores, the Ulster Unionists have shown us that they are useless. According to the story of the gunrunners, these boys of the bulldog breed—armed and sworn men—surrendered without firing a shot to a band of Volunteers ‘armed with staves.’ The coastguards are, we believe, picked men from the British Navy. What the unpicked men would be like in a sea-battle may possibly be deduced from this story. If five or six armed Irishmen, invested with authority, surrendered without pulling a trigger to the commands of men with sticks violating the law they were sworn to uphold, the English press would advertise the discreditable fact to the world as a proof of Irish inferiority. The Irish Unionist mind baffles us, if it cannot see in such an incident a proof of the unfitness of the English to govern the people of Ireland.
The ‘Irish Times’ also asks whether any sensible Nationalist believes this Home Rule Bill worth the shedding of his blood. Not one. If Ulster Unionism is only opposed to this Home Rule Bill, it has but to say so to have the whole Nationalist manhood of Ireland with it. But so far as it is articulate Ulster Unionism is opposing not merely this paltry measure, but the principle of National self-government in Ireland. If Irish Nationalists acquiesced in the claim of a small minority to veto their country’s rights, check its aspirations, or disintegrate its territory, they would be slavish indeed. The rejection of this Home Rule Bill would in itself not be lamented by thousands of Nationalists. Its rejection in deference to the claim of a fifth of the people of this country to dominate the community would raise a wholly different issue. There must be no more ascendancy, whatever the cost. The rights, the apprehensions, even the prejudices of the Ulster Unionist must be dealt with broadly, fairly, and generously by Ireland. But his implied claim to superiority over his countrymen can only be dealt with in one way if it be explicitly put forward. To palter with it, to temporise with it, would be as fatal as it would be mean. No man by reason only of his being Catholic or Protestant, Unionist or Nationalist, Ulsterman or Leinsterman is the superior of his fellow Irishman. To allow for fears, distrust, ignorance, is good statesmanship, and good patriotism. To submit to an arrogant and unfounded claim is bad statesmanship and no patriotism at all.