From Éire/Ireland, October 26, 1914.

Mr. P. H. Pearse writes:—

Mr. Redmond at Wexford and Waterford and Mr. Dillon at Ballaghadereen have declared it to be false that the Irish Party has bargained with the Government to ship off the Irish Volunteers as a body to the war. I accept those assurances, and I grant with Mr. Redmond that, even had the Irish Party so bargained, the thing could not have been done. But I point out that the charge which Mr. Redmond and Mr. Dillon here rebut is not the charge which has been made against them. The issue which they raise is not the issue upon which the Volunteers have split. The charge is quite different. The issue is much more real. The charge is that the man who virtually controlled the Volunteer movement had announced for Irish Volunteers a two-fold duty—to defend the shores of Ireland and ‘to take their place in the firing line in the war.’ This he did in the British House of Commons on September 15th: in the Manifesto to the Irish people on September 16th; and, finally and very definitively, in an address to Irish Volunteers at Woodenbridge on September 20th. The Provisional Committee has repudiated the second part of that definition of duty. It declares that the Irish Volunteers had from the beginning, and still have, but a single duty—to secure and to guard the rights and liberties of Ireland. It declares not only that the Volunteers as a body must not be shipped abroad, must not be placed under British control, must not be used for British as distinct from Irish purposes, but that individual Volunteers would be untrue to their Volunteer pledge if they were to enlist for foreign service, that such an enlistment would, in fact, constitute desertion from the Irish army at a moment when the Irish army needs every man in Ireland. Thus, the issue is not whether the Volunteers as a body are to be sent abroad—a thing admitted on both sides to be unthinkable—but whether individual Volunteers are to be urged by their leaders to enlist.

We say, definitely, no. In taking that stand we are taking the historical Irish national position. Ireland has never accepted duties or responsibilities within the British Empire. The demand now made upon her, the demand that she should send out her young men to fight the Empire’s battles, is a demand that has never yet been made upon her by her national leaders. The making of that demand constitutes a departure in national policy. Upon those who make the demand lies the onus of proving that new circumstances warrant a new and grave departure. Upon those who call upon Ireland to take up duties and responsibilities within the Empire lies the onus of proving that Ireland’s status as a subject country has changed. But it has not changed. The British military occupation of Ireland still continues. A British Chief Secretary still rules Ireland from Dublin Castle. A British Under-Secretary has just arrived, charged with instructions to hold and, if need be, to dragoon Ireland. The doors of the Irish Parliament are still closed. No Irish Government responsible to the Irish people exists. Our sovereign rights as a nation are still denied. Our status is the same as it was ten years ago, fifty years ago, a hundred years ago. In these circumstances our attitude towards the Empire must remain unchanged. To abandon that traditional national attitude is to abandon our national claims.