I once heard a keen student of personalities in Parliament observe that Mr Dillon and Mr T.P. O’Connor always appeared to him to be sounder and more sincere Liberals than they were Irish Nationalists. I agree, and no doubt much of Ireland’s later misfortunes sprang from this circumstance. I confess I have always thought of Mr Dillon, in my own mind, as an English Radical first and an Irish Nationalist afterwards. I believe he was temperamentally incapable of adopting Parnell’s position of independence of either British Party and of supporting only that Party which undertook to do most for Ireland. Then, again, Mr Dillon was more of an Internationalist than a Nationalist. He delighted in mixing himself up in foreign affairs, and I am much mistaken if he did not take more pride in being regarded as an authority on the Egyptian rather than on the Irish question. Mr T.P. O’Connor was so long out of Ireland, and had so completely lost touch with genuine Irish opinion that much might be forgiven to him. His ties with Liberalism were the outgrowth of years spent in connection with the Liberal Press of London and of social associations which had their natural and inevitable influence on his political actions.
With Messrs Dillon and O’Connor and—at this time, probably, in a more secondary sense—Mr Devlin, in control of the Party, it can be well understood how easy was the descent from an independence of all parties to an alliance with one. I believe that in all these things Mr Redmond’s judgment was overborne by his more resolute colleagues. I believe also, as I have already said, that the weakness of his position was engendered by the unforgettable mistake he made in regard to the sale of his estate—that he felt this was held over him as a sword of Damocles, and that he was never able to get away from its haunting shadow sufficiently to assert his own authority in the manner of an independent and resolute leader.
I am at pains to set forth these matters to justify the living and, in some measure, to absolve the dead. I want to place the responsibility for grievous failures and criminal blunders on the right shoulders. I seek to make it plain how the country was bamboozled and betrayed by Party machinations such as have not had their parallel in any other period of Irish history. I state nothing in malice or for any ulterior motive, since I have none. But I think it just and right that the chief events of the past twenty years should be set forth in their true character so that impartial inquirers may know to what causes can be traced the overwhelming tragedies of recent times.
A TALE OF BAD LEADERSHIP AND BAD FAITH