THE SINN FEIN MENACE.
(By. John Lloyd Balderston:) Dublin, September 1. A/ter as close an investigation as circumstances permitted into the present organisation and activities of the , Sinn Fein or Republican party in Ireland', I have been struck Tjy two facts of interest:— 1. By the implied admission of the leaders of Sinn Fein, Arthur Griffith and Eamonn de Valera,. the organisation remains actively anti-British and in as close touch and co-operation with Germany as possible. 2. By the admission of the same two men, who have just been released from prison, Sinn Fein still receive money from' Irish-Americans in the United States. Griffith, the foundter of Sinn. Fein, its executive head l prior to the Easter Week revolt, and de Valera, the young hero, whose sensational victory at the East Clare election has made him the. idol of half Ireland, permitted! me to interview them. To bath I put the same question: "Am I then justified 1 in assuming that American money which your organisation received' is being used to plot against Britain, in connivance, with the enemies of Britain and of the United States?" De Valera. said: 'England l is in occupation of our country Until she removes her /troops Ireland and. England) are in a state of war. While we are in a state of war England's enemies must be Ireland's friends." Griffith was more cautious. "Our appeal is to the peace conference," he said. "The question of the use of forces against the enemy is purely one of expediency." He declined to discuss his relations, if any, with the Germans, but said, like de Valera, "I am not pro-German. But Germany is the enemy of England, and • England is .my enemy. You may draw your own conclusions." "How do you get money from America?" I asked de Valera. "We have our ways," he answered, evasively. A stranger has only to walk the streets of Dublin half an hour to learn what an extraordinary hold the Sinn Fein propaganda has on the mass of the population. The Nationalist party, one is told by members of all factions, is practically dead. Joseph Devlin, the Ulster Nationalist leader, told me that if an election were held to-morrow the Nationalists would lose half their seats to Sinn Fein. The Sinn Feiners themselves claim that they would win every Nationalist seat in Ireland away from the Redmondites and l gain several constituencies now Unionist
Meanwhile the convention, which is repudiated by Sinn Fein, is in session, and Orangemen and' Nationalists are coming together to meet the common menace of anarchy and' civil war which they believe the Sinn Fein programme holds in store for the country, if the republican party secures control. It seems strange to hear counsels of moderation and appeals for law and order from the Ulster and! Nationalist factions which three years ago were marching troops about and threatening war to the knife. But there Tvas a good deal of bluff in the Carson mili'taryi preparations, and in the counterpreparations south of the Boyne, and) .most moderate Irishmen are aware that there is no bluff about Sinn Fein. The present leaders have "gone up on the, roof," a:s they say in Dublin, against the whole might of the British empire, once, and they say with engaging frankness that, if they cannot obtain complete independence in any other way, they intend to do so again. Since the suppression of the Dublin revolt, which was planned to extend all over the country, but went off at half-cock, it seems probable from all I can learn that arms have been smuggled to the Sinn Feiners from Germany, by means of cargo submarines, which put in lonely bays on the almost deserted west coast. This is widely believed to be true ill Dublin. I have been assured by prominent members of the convention that they know of -German arms imported' in i tliis manner The Sinn Fein leaders themselves, with all their remarkable willingness to discuss their plans and position, refused to. tell me whether Hindenburg is helping them out witn rifles or machine-guns, hand! grenades, flame-throwers, or cylinders of poison : gas "weapons, all of which figure in Dublin rumour. Ireland is under martial law. There is something comic in the Sinn Fein complaints of militarism and oppression against the British method.of handling the situation here. I discussed the situation briefly with General Sir _ Bryan Mahon, commander-in-chief of the considerable British forces in Ireland, but am not at liberty to quote him. Two illustrations will show to. what extremes the authorities are going in their desire not to provoke the Sinn Feiners. Through the first two days of the convention no British nag was flying in Central Dublin. But a block away from the convention hall some Irish Barbara Freitchie had flung to the breeze a republican flag of red, green and white. It fluttered over the heads of the delegates as they walked 1 to their deliberations No attempt was' madle to remove it. Over the front of the building occupied, since his release from his life sentence for treason, by Arthur Griffith at 6 Harcourt street, are stretched! in large brass letters the words "Sinn .Fein bank," and Mr Griffith and his friends there edit and publish the, official , organ of Sinn Fein, now called! "Nationality," which continues its propaganda with a certain regard for the censorship, but no concealment of its sentiments and aims. Only one grievance against the martial law now enforced in Ireland can be expressed against the Castle authorities to-dlay that was not available before the Dublin revolt. The Sinn Fein soldiers are no longer allowed to drill in the street, -dig trenches in the city parks, or rehearse undisturbed' their planned attacks on Dublin castle and other strategic points, as they did in the early = months of-1916. The facts: about Sinn Fein appear to be that i't is led by _the. survivors of the leaders of the Easter Week rebellion, that it is spreading its organisation all over southern Ireland and gaining support at an alarming rate, that its principal doctrine is the use of force to obtain national independence, and that it repudiates anything short of a complete separation from the British empire Sinn Fein, in its election campaigning, does not preach only? hate of England and political idealism. It claims credit for saving Ireland from conscription, and the argument makes a. Treat appeal to the farmers, upon whose, support Sinn Fein mainly relies. Among the Sinn Fein population the United' Startes, until now extremely popular in Ireland, is regarded with mingled pity *aaid anger. "England has draged you in to pull out lier chestnuts," was a remark addressed to me more than once. An incident that took place in the Hippodrome, the largest theatre in Dublin, now used as a. moving picture house, illustrates the Sinn Fein attitude. The commander of an American destroyer in Dublin, on leave with one of his officers, told he was in the Hippodrome when some of the Westi Point cadets drilling were shown. A considerable part of the audience hissed A moment later renewed hissing greeted "God Save the King," played by the theatre orchestra, but this' was nothing to the storm of disapproval tliaifc followed; when the band switched to the "Star Spangled! Banner," and the two officers, as American regular tions ■ demand!, stood at. attention. "I didn't know what to do," said' the commander ruefully. "It was the. firsrb time • I ever heard that tune hissed. We walked out."
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THE SINN FEIN MENACE., Oamaru Mail, Volume XLIX, Issue 13293, 30 October 1917
THE SINN FEIN MENACE. Oamaru Mail, Volume XLIX, Issue 13293, 30 October 1917
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