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Does Eire Want To Be A Republic?

LONDON, July 15.'. EIRE'S relations with the Empire, and the question of independence either within or without the British Commonwealth, are discussed by a special correspondent of The Times, who starts by re-opening the issue as affected by nearly six years of war.

Declaring that Mr. de Valera's blunt statement that Eire is a republic glanced off the hard rock of contention around which the controversy is bubbling in Eire— namely, whether Eire should be a member of the British Commonwealth—The Times correspondent adds that de Valera left the question where it had been after the constitution of 1937—in the air. The correspondent compares Eire to the sleeping beauty, who is at last' stirring, and adds that the question she must JRve, and Britain must ponder, is where she will awake in a new and probably hard world. .

Emphasising that Eire has sterling assets estimated by Dublin financial circles at £400,000,000. accumulated by sending sons and produce to Britain during the war, the correspondent says Eire is thus, in relation to size, one of the world's great creditor nations. The immediate practical problem is exchanging sterling assets for goods and raw. materials, including coal, petrol, machinery and fertilisers, of which she has been short throughout the war.

Britain the Major Market

Irish eagerness for trade in raw materials, for which she naturally looks to Britain, is one reason why public opinion is focussed on Mr. Dillon's questions regarding' the constitutional position, which he -likened to "a cat with its tail caught in a door."

"The people of Eire see clearly that an alliance is possible only with either England or America, and is practicable only with Britain which is the market for 90 per cent of Irish exports. "But nobody knowing the abnegation of which the Irish are capable, both individually and nationally, would make the mistake of thinking that economic interests would have a last, or even a large, share in the decision of Eire's future."

What Do People Want The Times correspondent asked a number of people,, including prominent party members, university professors, industrialists, shopkeepers, farmers, and an I.R.A. internee recently released, whether Eire should become a Dominion with full status and responsibilities, or go her own way as a sovereign republic. The replies coincided in the opinion that any such offer would not draw a response unless accompanied by a promise to end partition, or a threat which would thrust Eire on her own resburces, depriving her people of the 'economic advantages of connection with Britain, and the ability to work in England or take out a British passport if desired.

' The replies showed that an offer "of full Dominion status, including a promise to include the North of Ireland in the Dominion, would receive wide support throughout Eire. A famous Nationalist said, "I would join the British Empire to-morrow to end the Dublin slums. What is the use of wasting time on technicalities as a republic when queues are lining up outside the offices of the British representatives at 8 a.m. for permits to go to England."

Historical Distrust The Times correspondent nevertheless adds, "Any attempt to persuade Eire to play a part as a full Dominion would at present fail, first, because of historical distrust and latent anti-Englishness, which will linger on in Irish life for many years, although it is compatible with a liking tor individual Englishmen, and sympathy and admiration for Britain's holding the fort in wartime, and for the conduct of her cities under fire. Secondly, for a long time, there will be a small, determined, recklessly brave body of men wedded to the iuea). of an independent Irish republic, who would oppose by force of arms any majority who are ready to abandon that ideal, and no Eire Government will risk a second civil war." i

The general feeling is expressed by an intellectual, who gava tne opinion that, after a few years completely outside the British Commonwealth, Eire undoubtedly would be willing and anxious to join the Commonwealth, but would not do so until she could look back on a period, however short, of complete national sovereignty, which she would voluntarily resign for a closer association with the Empire. The fact that-British prestige has never been higher in Eire will have its effect on the future. Only an I.E.A. ex-detainee disagreed with the rest of the opinions that a proposal for the mutual defence of England and Eire would be welcomed.

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Bibliographic details

Does Eire Want To Be A Republic?, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 169, 19 July 1945

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Does Eire Want To Be A Republic? Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 169, 19 July 1945

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