This memorable meeting of the erstwhile warring hosts agreed absolutely as to the main conditions on which the Land Settlement of 1903 ought to be preserved—viz. that the abolition of landlordism should be completed in the briefest possible time, that the rate of tenant purchasers’ annuity should remain undisturbed, and that the State bonus to the landlords should not be altered. If there were to be losses on the notation of land loans the loss should be borne by the Imperial Treasury for the greatest of all Imperial purposes. A deputation of unequalled strength and unrivalled representative character was appointed to submit these views to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. But jealous and perverse and, I must add, blindly malignant, influences had been at work, and a deputation which comprised six peers, eleven Members of Parliament, and some of the leading public men in Munster was refused a hearing by Mr Birrell. Though the act was the act of Mr Birrell, all the world knew that the sinister figure in the background was Mr Dillon. And they have both paid the penalty since then of their follies, not to say crimes—though a nation still suffers for them.
A NEW POWER ARISES IN IRELAND
The Party manipulators had now got their stranglehold on the country. The people, where they were not chloroformed into insensibility, were doped into a state of corrupt acquiescence. All power was in the hands of the Party. The orthodox daily Press was wholly on their side. The British public and the English newspaper writers were impressed only, as always, by the big battalions. The Irish Party had numbers, and numbers count in Parliament as nothing else does. Whatever information went through to the American Press passed through tainted sources. An influential Irish-American priest, Father Eamon Duffy, writing some time since in the great American Catholic magazine, The Monitor, said:
“We really never understood the situation in America. Ireland was in the grip of the Party machine and of one great daily paper, and these were our sources of information. It was only the great upheaval that awakened us from our dream and showed us that something had been wrong, and that the Party no longer represented the country.”