Faith was not kept with “The Irish Brigade” in either the manning or the officering of it by Irishmen, and the time came when, through failure of reserves, it was Irish more in name than in anything else, and when the gaps caused by casualties had to be filled by English recruits. A disgusted and disappointed country turned its thoughts away from constitutional channels; and the betrayals of Ireland’s hopes, and dignity and honour, which had gone on during the years, were fast leading to their natural and inevitable Nemesis.
THE EASTER WEEK REBELLION AND AFTERWARDS
A world preoccupied with the tremendous movements of mighty armies woke up one morning and rubbed its eyes in amazement to read that a rebellion had broken out in the capital of Ireland. How did it happen? What did it mean? What was the cause of it? These and similar questions were being asked, and those who were ready with an answer were very few indeed. The marvellous thing, a matter almost incredible of belief, is that it caught the Irish Government absolutely unawares. Their Secret Service Department might as well not have been in existence. For the first time probably in Irish history an Irish movement had come into being which had not a single “informer” in its ranks. This in itself was a remarkable thing and to be noted. The leaders and their officers had accomplished the remarkable achievement of discriminating against the Secret Service agent.
Although everything was clouded in a mist of conjecture and obscurity at the time, the causes of the Rebellion of Easter Week are now fairly clear, and may be shortly summarised. From the moment that the Redmondite Party had imposed their conditions on the Committee of the Irish Volunteers the vast bulk of the Volunteers who were not also “Mollies” were thoroughly dissatisfied with the arrangement. This discontent increased when the recruiting campaign in Ireland was conducted with calculated offence to Nationalist sentiment and self-respect, and eventually developed into a split. The members of the original Committee as a result summoned a Volunteer Convention for 25th November 1914, at which it was decided to declare: “That Ireland cannot with honour or safety take part in foreign quarrels otherwise than through the free action of a National Government of her own; and to repudiate the claim of any man to offer up the blood and lives of the sons of Irishmen and Irishwomen to the service of the British Empire while no National Government which could act and speak for the people of Ireland is allowed to exist.”