From The Irish Volunteer, February 19, 1916. Speaking at the concert held for the benefit of the Equipment Fund of ‘G’ Coy., 2nd Batt., Dublin Brigade, at 41 Parnell Square, on 6th February.
The Irish Volunteers have stated our objects in the original manifesto. People have professed to find that statement vague and unsatisfactory. If they have mistaken the sense of the statement, the mistake is their own, and not that of the Volunteers. The statement itself is perfectly plain, and meant exactly what it said. It had put it that the primary object of the Irish Volunteers is to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland. The first right common to all the people of Ireland is the right to national freedom. When I said at Glasnevin a few months ago that the Irish Volunteers and those who were associated with us in that day’s duty must stand together henceforth for the achievement of Irish freedom, and added that we knew only one definition of freedom, people, I was told, had thrown up their hands in mock horror and said ‘Pearse has let the cat out of the bag. He admits that the Irish Volunteers are out for Separation.’
As far as I am concerned, the cat has never been in a bag. I and the majority of them have been Separatists before we were Volunteers. Is it to be pretended that in becoming Volunteers we had become something less than Separatists? Personally, I have avowed my object at and ever since the very first meeting. True, I have been willing to co-operate with those who do not go as far as I, hoping that the Separatists and the others might travel the same road as far as the others could go. I now fear that this has been a vain hope, that the roads have been divergent from the beginning.
There is nothing in common between those who hold the sovereignty of the Irish nation as the first article of their political creed and those who accept as ‘a final settlement’ an act which expressly denies that sovereignty. If ever the Irish Volunteers went into action it would go into action for Irish freedom. It would be wrong for me to say that you might soon be called into action. We have contemplated the possibility of action from the first day. One thing that I can and will say is that a Volunteer should always be prepared for action. The need for the completion of our equipment is obvious. The time has come when every Irish Volunteer and every friend of the Irish Volunteers shall place everything that they can spare from the needs of those dependent upon them at the disposal of the Irish Volunteers.