‘An irregular junta’

Published in Issue 6 (November/December 2018), Letters, Volume 26

Sir,—When Michael Collins accepted the gift of Dublin Castle from Lord Fitzalan on 14 January 1922 he was the finance minister of the Irish Republic, appointed by its parliament, Dáil Éireann, in 1919 and again in 1921. That Republic was established by the popular mandate of the 1918 general election, ‘regarded on all sides as a plebiscite’, according to The Times of London. The electorate had ratified the Republic declared at Easter 1916 and had chosen the surviving insurgents as their spokesmen. Dennis Kennedy (HI 26.5, Sept./Oct. 2018, Letters) has a problem with these truths and, like the British government of 1918–21, does not recognise the legitimacy of Dáil Éireann. A ‘rum parliament’, described as ‘the Parliament of Southern Ireland’, held its one and only quorate meeting on 14 January 1922 and purported to ratify the Articles of Agreement signed in London and to appoint a provisional government. The proceedings were decidedly at odds with recognition of the Republic, its parliament and the popular mandate of 1918 and subsequent national and local elections. Padraic Colum, poet and biographer of Arthur Griffith, reported that more Irish was spoken at that one quorate meeting of ‘the Parliament of Southern Ireland’ than at any one meeting of Dáil Éireann. Apparently the participants were too embarrassed to use the more widely understood English language, as Ireland was being denied her full rights and her whole entitlement. Mary Kate Danaher, bride of Seán Thornton, was similarly embarrassed when confessing to Father Lonergan why her bridegroom was being denied his rights, and spoke in the language of the Gael in John Ford’s The Quiet Man.—Yours etc.,

DONAL KENNEDY
London

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