By people forgetful of the facts, it is sometimes supposed that the Partition was agreed to by the Irish Party under the pressure of war conditions. This is not so. The Party have not even this poor excuse to justify their betrayal, which was the culminating point in the steep declivity of their downfall. The All-for-Ireland Party resisted with all the strength at their command the violation of Ireland’s national unity. We spoke against it, voted against it, did all we could to rouse the conscience of the people as to its unparalleled iniquity. But though a proposal more offensive to every instinct of national feeling could not be submitted, the Irish Party determined to see the thing through—they seemed anxious to catch at any straw that would save them from an irretrievable doom. On account of the deadlock between the Lords and Commons on the question of exclusion, and with a view to the adjustment of differences, it was announced that the King had summoned a Conference of two representatives from each Party—eight in all—to meet at Buckingham Palace. It is believed that this Conference was initiated by His Majesty but taken with the knowledge and consent of the Ministry. Messrs Redmond and Dillon represented the Irish Party, and thus the man (Mr Dillon) who had been for ten years denouncing any Conference with his own countrymen went blithely into a Conference at Buckingham Palace, where the only issue to be discussed was as to whether Sir Edward Carson should have four or six counties for his kingdom in the North. On this point the Conference for the moment disagreed, but nothing can ever undo the fact that a body of Irishmen claiming to be Nationalists had not only ignobly agreed to the Partition of their native land but, after twelve months for deliberation, agreed to surrender six counties, instead of four, to the Covenanters. And the time came when it was remembered for them in an Ireland which had worthier concepts of Nationality than partition and plunder.
FORMATION OF IRISH
VOLUNTEERS AND OUTBREAK
Meanwhile Nationalist Ireland was deep in its heart revolted by the way the Parliamentary Party was managing its affairs. They sought still to delude it with the cry that “the Act” was on the Statute Book and that all would be well. My experience of my own people is that once confidence is yielded to a person or party they are trustful to an amazing degree; let that confidence once be disturbed, then distrust and suspicion are quickly bred—and to anyone who knows the Celtic psychology a suspicious Irishman is not a very pleasant person to deal with. This the Party were to find out in suitable time. Meanwhile the young men of the South saw no reason why, Ulster being armed and insolent, they might not become armed and self-reliant. And accordingly, without any petty distinctions of party, or class, or creed, they decided to band themselves into a body of volunteers and they adopted a title sanctioned in Irish history—namely, the Irish Volunteers.