I made my first bid for Parliamentary honours in the 1900 election, when I had my name put forward as Labour candidate at the South Cork convention. I was not very strongly supported then, but the following May, on the death of Dr Tanner, I was nominated again as Labour candidate for Mid-Cork, and after a memorable tussle at the Divisional Convention I headed the poll by a substantial majority. Hence I write from now onward with what I may claim to be an intimate inside knowledge of affairs.
The first few years after the 1900 election saw us a solidly united opposition in Parliament for the first time for ten years. Question time was a positive joy to us younger members, who developed almost diabolical capacity for heckling Ministers on every conceivable topic under the sun. Our hostility to the Boer War also brought us into perennial conflict with the Government. The Irish members in a very literal sense once more occupied “the floor of the House,” and there were some fierce passages-at-arms, resulting on one occasion in the forcible ejection of a large body of Nationalists by the police—an incident which had no relish for those who were jealous of the prestige and fair fame of the Mother of Parliaments. In Ireland the fight for constitutional reform went on with unabated energy. All the old engines of oppression and repression were at work, and the people proved that they had lost none of their wit or resource in the struggle with the forces of the Crown. Mr George Wyndham, whom I like to look back upon as one of the most courtly and graceful figures in the public life of the past generation, was installed in Dublin Castle as Chief Secretary. I can imagine that nothing could have been more distasteful to his generous spirit than to be obliged to use the hackneyed weapons of brute force in the pursuance of British policy. As an answer to the agitation for compulsory land purchase and a settlement of the western problem Mr Wyndham introduced in 1902 a Land Purchase Bill which fell deplorably short of the necessities of the situation. It would have deprived the tenants of all free will in the matter of the price they would be obliged to sell at, and left them wholly at the mercy of two landlord nominees on the Estates Commissioners, whilst it did not even pretend to find any remedy for