I do not think any soldier could have wished for a fairer or more friendly statement; and a chance assisted to realize his hope that the troops generally would not be held responsible. One of the killed was a woman whose son was a Dublin Fusilier. This man published a letter in the Press calling on all Dublin Fusiliers and all soldiers who sympathized with him to attend the funeral. It was well that the populace should feel on such a matter as this that all the troops were not against them; and well that they should be counselled by the leader of their nation to be reasonable in the direction of their resentment.
This whole incident should never be forgotten by those who are disposed to judge the Irish harshly for what they did, and did not do, in the succeeding years. Above all, it should be remembered that the news of it, terribly provocative in itself to any people, but tenfold provocative by reason of the contrast which it revealed as compared with the treatment of Ulster, was published to the world less than ten days before Redmond had to face the question, What should Ireland do in the war?
[Footnote 2: Manchester Guardian, February 4, 1919]
WAR IN EUROPE
The week which began on Monday, July 27th, was feverish and excited. Formal discussion on the occurrences at Clontarf and Bachelor’s Walk was confined to the Monday; but each day had a stormy scene during question-time arising out of it. The Amending Bill from the Lords was to have been taken on Tuesday, but Mr. Asquith postponed it till Thursday, to get a calmer atmosphere. When Thursday came, it was postponed again and indefinitely. “We meet,” said the Prime Minister, “under conditions of gravity which are almost unparalleled in the experience of any one of us.” It was therefore necessary to “present a united front and be able to speak and act with the authority of an undivided nation.” To continue the Home Rule discussion must involve the House in acute controversy in regard to “domestic differences whose importance to ourselves no one in any quarter of the House is disposed to disparage or belittle.”
The Leader of the Opposition assented. Two sentences in his speech have importance. The first laid it down that this postponement should not “in any way prejudice the interests of any of the parties to the controversy.” The second indicated that he spoke not only for the Unionist party but for Ulster.