[Footnote 67: The writer’s italics.]
[Footnote 68: According to The Daily Telegraph of January 22, 1912.]
THE MILITARY DISADVANTAGES OF HOME RULE
BY THE EARL PERCY
The problems of Imperial defence have become of late years extremely complex, owing to the rise of a great European naval power, and also to the predominance of Japan in the Pacific. These two factors, combined with the invention of the Dreadnought type of ship which is now being built by other powers whose navies we could formerly afford to ignore, have rendered our position in the world more precarious, more dependent upon foreign alliances and ententes, and have rendered combination for defence far more essential. No Home Rule scheme can be judged without taking into consideration what its effect will be on this situation. It is proposed to consider it first in the light of the more pressing European danger, and next to examine how it will affect the wider problem of the future, namely, the co-operation of all parts of the British Empire for defence.
But first it is of course necessary to find out what Home Rule means, and what the internal state of Ireland will be if it passes. On this point there is at present no certainty. We can dismiss at once Mr. Redmond’s picture of a serenely contented and grateful Ireland, only desirous of helping her benefactor, and, under a strong and incorruptible government, engaged in setting its house in order. The presence of a strong Protestant community, the history of the Roman Catholic Church in all countries, and the deliberate fostering of separatist national ideals preclude the possibility of anything but a prolonged period of unrest, which, on the most favourable hypothesis, can only cease altogether when the present generation has passed away. This unrest may take two forms; either civil war, or a condition where the rousing of old animosities, religious and otherwise, leads to internal disturbances of all kinds. It is not proposed to deal here with the consequences involved by the calling in of troops to suppress by force of arms an insurrectionary movement against the Government of Ireland. In view of the present state of affairs in Ulster, such an event seems extremely probable, but the disastrous results of passing Home Rule in face of it are so patent to all that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon them here. We have, therefore, to consider a condition of things in which old mutual hatreds have re-awakened, in which Ireland will be governed by men who have up till now preached sedition, have done their best to check recruiting, who have deliberately set up an ideal of “complete separation” as their ultimate goal, and whose motto has always been “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity.”