Republished in The Fatherland, 8 August, 1916.

Now, again, gentlemen, I have been drawn into a collision with politicians in the discharge of my ecclesiastical duties. What is that ghost of Home Rule which they keep safe in lavender on the Statute Book, but a confession of the wrong of England’s rule in Ireland. I should like to ask Mr. Asquith if the destruction of the Irish Parliament was not an atrocious crime against this country, and if, as a nation, we have ever condoned it or forfeited our right to redress.

If he were an Irishman, would he submit tamely to the perpetuation of the present misgovernment of the country? Would he patiently look on at the deceit and chicanery with which this supreme interest of Ireland has been treated, and never more scandalously than for the last ten years? Did he imagine that the young men of any nation would have the patience to bear with the tantalizing perfidy which, after years of strenuous agitation, pretended to yield their claim, passed into law a measure of Home Rule and then hung it up and announced that before it could be put into execution, it had to be amended?

Did he think the Home Rule Act needed amendment? If so, why did they pass it in its present shape, or was it a part of the perfidy with which Ireland has always been treated?

Then see the result of the rising. With all the preoccupation of the war upon him, Mr. Asquith from his entrenchment of ‘wait and see’ sped across the Channel to discover what was the matter with Ireland. And what did he find? That the Castle Government had failed. That is the recorded judgment of the Prime Minister of England.

Mr. Asquith is an able man, and as honest as any English statesman can be in dealing with another country. He knows that English Government in Ireland is indefensible; that no people in the world that could help it would stand being governed by strangers, men like Wimborne and Birrell and Nathan, a gang of carpet-baggers who came here for their personal interests at the behest of their party. But he has not the manliness to concede what he knows is our absolute right. Does he think that partitioning a country by religions is the way to emancipate it? If Germany were now to offer corresponding proposals to Belgium with what scorn they would be rejected; with what burning indignation Mr. Asquith would roll out his resounding periods in denunciation of such an outrage on national rights.

An Empire in any true sense consists of a number of Kingdoms, each of which is a unit, self-contained and self-governed, but all of which come together for their mutual support and benefit. But that is not the case as between England and Ireland. We have been deprived of all the attributes of a Kingdom. We are a subject province. We are like Egypt, governed by English satraps of an inferior kind, but in no sense are we constituents of the British Empire. Canada and Australia are parts of the Empire, but we are not, for we are ruled not by ourselves, but by some English barrister from Bristol, or Manchester, or some Jew from Shoreditch. This is our share in the Empire, and I for one avow that it does not fire my enthusiasm for the Union Jack.

Ireland is a nation and never will be at rest until the centre of gravity is within herself. Clever and plausible English ministers may do a great deal by way of corruption; they may buy the National Press; they may mislead the Members of Parliament; they may demoralize individuals, and even large classes by an insidious system of bribery, but in my humble judgment there is deep down in the heart of Ireland the sacred fire of Nationality which such influences can never reach, much less extinguish, and which will yet burn upon the altar of Freedom. They may think that prosperity will wean our people from the Old Cause; that education will turn their thoughts into other channels. It is the flattering unction which tyrants are always laying to their souls, but the history of the world is against them.

Ireland will never be content as a province. God has made her a nation, and while grass grows and water runs there will be men in Ireland. It is that National Spirit that will yet vindicate our country and not the petty intrigues of Parliamentary chicane. And if our representatives in Parliament had relied on it, instead of putting their faith in Asquith and Lloyd George and the Liberals, they would not be where they are to-day.

By way of defence, some of them have been asking recently for an alternative policy to theirs. It is a rather cool demand. It is as if the captain of a ship, after running her on the rocks, invited the passengers to give their views of how the vessel should have been navigated. It would be much more to the purpose for him to tell them how he proposed to get her off the rocks. And for my part I should greatly like to hear from someone or other of our great politicians a clear statement of the plan of action which they now have before their minds. But although like the mass of the people of this country on which the confidence which has been placed so disastrously I have no responsibility for the present deplorable condition of things, yet I will state my alternative to trusting the Party, who trust the Liberals, and are now reduced to the statesmanship of Micawber waiting for something to turn up.

When war was declared I would have said to the English Government: ‘Give us our National rights; set up a genuine Parliament in Dublin and we are with you.’ Again this very year, when the English Government played false, I would have said to the Irish Members of Parliament: ‘Come home, shake the dust of the English House of Commons off your feet, and throw yourselves on the Irish Nation.’ These are my alternatives. I think they would have been effective, but I fear they would not be in favour with our present Parliamentarians.