Delivered in Dáil Éireann, 4th January, 1922 as part of deliberations on the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
I rise to support the motion of our President for the rejection of this Treaty. My reasons for doing so are various, but my first reason for doing so I would like to explain here to-day is on my son’s account. It has been said here on several occasions that Pádraig Pearse would have accepted this Treaty. I deny it. As his mother I deny it, and on his account I will not accept it. Neither would his brother Willie accept it, because his brother was part and parcel of him. I am proud to say to-day that Pádraig Pearse was a follower and a disciple, and a true disciple, of Tom Clarke’s. Therefore he could not accept this Treaty.
I also wish to say another reason why I could not accept it is the reason of fear. As I explained here at the private meeting, that from 1916 – I now wish to go over this again in public – from 1916 until we had the visits from the Black-and-Tans I had comfortable, nice, happy nights and happy days because I knew my boys had done right, and I knew I had done right in giving them freely for their country; but when the Black-and-Tans came – then no nights, no days of rest had I. Always we had to be on the alert. But even the Black-and-Tans alone would not frighten me as much as if I accepted that Treaty; because I feel in my heart – and I would not say it only I feel it – that the ghosts of my sons would haunt me.
Now another thing has been said about Pádraig Pearse; that he would accept a Home Rule Bill such as this. Well he would not. Now, in my own simple way I will relate a thing that happened, I think it was in 1915 or 1916. He sent me into Dublin on a very urgent message, and when I came to Westmoreland Street I saw on the placards “Home Rule Bill Passed.” At that time I knew very little of politics. I was going on a very urgent message as I told you. I leaped out of my tram, got into another and went as fast as I could up the roads of Rathfarnham.
When I went in and found him, as usual, writing, and he turned round and said: “Back so quickly?”
“Yes,” said I, “the Home Rule Bill is passed.”
He sat writing; the tears came into his eyes. He got up, and putting his arms around me, said: “Little mother, this is not the Home Rule Bill we want, but perhaps in a short time you will see what we intend to do and what freedom we intend to fight for.”
He then asked me about what he had sent me for, but I had come back without it.
“Never mind,” he said, “I will do it myself tomorrow; go and get something to eat.”
I said to him then: “What are you going to do?”
“Mother,” he said, “don’t ask me, but you will know time enough.”
Now, in the face of this, do you mean to tell me Pádraig Pearse would have voted for this Treaty? I say no! I am sure here to-day the man to whom Pádraig Pearse addressed these words – I am certain he is present – he said that he could understand the case for compromise, but personally rejected it. As an instance; when discussing the now much-mooted question of Colonial Home Rule he said that had he ever a voice in rejecting or accepting such proposals his vote would be cast amongst the “noes.” Well now my vote for accepting this is equal to his.
I may say just a word on the oath. Our friend Mr. MacCabe read out the Ten Commandments. All I can say is what our catechism taught us in my days was: It is perjury to break your oath. I consider I’d be perjuring myself in breaking the oath I had taken to Dáil Éireann. An oath to me is a most sacred vow made in the presence of Almighty God to witness the truth, and the truth alone. Therefore that is another reason of mine.
Now men here may think little of an oath, and think little of a word of honour, but I repeat here a little incident that happened twenty minutes before Pádraig Pearse was executed in Kilmainham, and it will let you know what he thought of a word of honour much less an oath.
He, poor fellow, had something written for you Irishmen, and to-day I am ashamed of some of you here. Had that note then come out from Kilmainham, I am sure we would have had many more on our side in rejecting this Treaty, but the priest whom he wished to take out that document had given his word of honour to the British Government that he would take out nothing.
Pádraig asked him to take out the document – at least, to take it to his mother, because he knew that if his mother got it, it would be put into the right quarters.
The priest told him: “Pádraig,” he said, “I have given my word of honour to take out nothing.”
“Well, Father,” he said, “if you have given your word of honour don’t break it, but ask those in charge to give mother this because she is bound to hear it sometime and I want to get it out now.”
If that document had been got out – it may be got yet, but, alas! I am afraid it is too late – the people here would not have made up their minds so willingly to go the wrong path and not the right path.
People will say to me: “The people of Ireland want this Treaty.” I have been through Ireland for the past few years and I know the hearts and sorrows of the wives of Ireland. I have studied them; no one studied them more, and let no one here say that these women from their hearts could say they accept that Treaty. They say it through fear; they say it through fear of the aeroplanes and all that has been said to them. Now I will ask you again there are some members here who may remember what Pádraig Pearse said in the early autumn of 1915. He said it when he was inspecting the Volunteers at Vinegar Hill. He told them there on that day:
“We, the Volunteers, are formed here not for half of Ireland, not to give the British Garrison control of part of Ireland. No! we are here for the whole of Ireland.”
Therefore Pádraig Pearse would not have accepted a Treaty like this with only two-thirds of his country in it. In the name of God I will ask the men that have used Pádraig Pearse’s name here again to use it in honour; to use it in truthfulness. One Deputy mentioned here about rattling the bones of the dead. I only wish we could recall them. Remember, the day will come – soon, I hope, Free State or otherwise – when those bones shall be lifted as if they were the bones of saints. We won’t let them rattle. No! but we will hold what they upheld, and no matter what anyone says I feel that I and others here have a right to speak in the name of their dead.
 Éamon De Valera.