It is contended, indeed, that the power of the priest in Ireland is on the wane. This is partly true and partly not true. It is true that he is not quite the political and social autocrat that he once was. But it is not true that the Church of Rome is less powerful in Ireland than she was. On the contrary, as an ecclesiastical organisation Rome was never so compact in organisation, never so ably manned by both regular and secular clergy, never so wealthy nor so full of resource, never so obedient to the rule of the Vatican, as at the present moment. Give her an Irish Parliament, and she will be complete; she will patiently subdue all Ireland to her will. Emigration has drained the country of the strong men of the laity, who might be able to resist her encroachments. Dr. Horton truly says: “The Roman Church dominates Ireland and the Irish as completely as Islam dominates Morocco.” By Ireland and the Irish Dr. Horton, of course, means Roman Catholic Ireland. Are you now going to place a legislative weapon in her hand whereby she will be able to dominate Protestants also? It is bad statesmanship; bad politics; bad religion. For Ireland it can bring nothing but ruin; and for the Empire nothing but terrible retribution in the future.
UNIONIST POLICY IN RELATION TO RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN IRELAND
“For the last two and twenty years, at first a few and now a goodly company of rural reformers with whom I have been associated, and on whose behalf I write, have been steadily working out a complete scheme of rural development, their formula being better farming, better business, better living."—SIR H. PLUNKETT, letter to the Times, December, 1911.
“Ireland would prefer rags and poverty rather than surrender her national spirit."—MR. JOHN REDMOND, speech at Buffalo, September 27, 1910.
It should never be forgotten that the maintenance of the legislative Union between Ireland and Great Britain is defended by Unionists no less in the interests of Ireland than in that of the United Kingdom and of the Empire. That the ills from which Ireland has admittedly suffered in the past, and for which she still suffers, though in diminished measure, in the present, are economic and social rather than political, is a fundamental tenet of Unionism. Unionists also believe that economic and social conditions in Ireland can be more effectively dealt with under the existing political constitution than under any form of Home Rule. Ireland is a poor country, and needs the financial resources which only the Imperial Parliament can provide. She is, moreover, a country divided into hostile camps marked by strong racial and religious differences. As Sir George Trevelyan long ago pointed out, there is not one Ireland, there are two Irelands; and only so far as Ireland continues an integral part of a larger whole can the antagonism between the two elements be prevented from forming a dangerous obstacle to all real progress.