“In Ulster, as in England, the flow of recruits outran the provision made for them by the War Office, and by about the middle of October the Protestant districts had furnished some 21,000, of which Belfast alone had contributed 7,581, or 305 per 10,000 of the population—the highest proportion of all the towns in the United Kingdom."
The second witness is the democratic orator who took a foremost part in the House of Commons in denouncing the Curragh officers who resigned their Commissions rather than march against Ulster. Colonel John Ward, M.P., writing two years after the war, in which he had not kept his eyes shut, said:
“It would be presumptuous for a mere Englishman to praise the gallantry and patriotism of Scotland, Wales, and Ulster; their record stands second to none in the annals of the war. The case of the South of Ireland, her most ardent admirer will admit, is not as any other in the whole British Empire. To the everlasting credit of the great leader of the Irish Nationalists, Mr. John Redmond, his gallant son, and his very lovable brother—together with many real, great-souled Irish soldiers whose loss we so deeply deplore—saw the light and followed the only course open to good men and true. But the patriotism and devotion of the few only show up in greater and more exaggerated contrast the sullen indifference of the majority, and the active hostility of the minority, who would have seen our country and its people overrun and defeated not only without regret, but with fiendish delight."
No generous-minded Ulsterman would wish to detract a word from the tribute paid by Colonel Ward to the Redmond family and other gallant Catholic Nationalists who stood manfully for the Empire in the day of trial; but the concluding sentence in the above quotation cannot be gainsaid. And the pathetic thing was that Mr. Redmond himself never seems to have understood the true sentiments of the majority of those who had been his followers before the war. In a speech in the House on the 15th of September he referred contemptuously to a “little group of men who never belonged to the National Constitutional party, who were circulating anti-recruiting handbills and were publishing little wretched rags once a week or once a month,” which were not worth a moment’s notice.
The near future was to show that these adherents of Sinn Fein were not so negligible as Mr. Redmond sincerely believed. The real fact was that his own patriotic attitude at the outbreak of war undermined his leadership in Ireland. The “separatism” which had always been, as Ulster never ceased to believe, the true underlying, though not always the acknowledged, motive power of Irish Nationalism, was beginning again to assert itself, and to find expression in “handbills” and “wretched rags.” It was discovering other leaders and spokesmen than Mr. Redmond and his party, whom it was destined before long to sweep utterly away.