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to be preserved one entire, free, independent society, to be governed by its own laws; this is lost whenever they are given up into the power of another
Whensoever, therefore, the legislature shall transgress this fundamental rule of society, and either by ambition, fear, folly, or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of another, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and by the establishment of a new legislature (such as they shall see fit) provide for their own safety and security; which is the end for which they are in society.”—(Ed. 1694, p. 338).
The legislative body cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands, for being but a delegated power, they who have it cannot pass it over to any others.
It is superfluous to enter into details to show the circumstances of military repression attending the passage of the Act of Union. That it was not a contract voluntarily entered into by Ireland is best evidenced by the fact that from the day of its passing it has been necessary to use perpetual force and coercion to maintain it.
As regards the pretended moral obligation of the “Union :” at the present day, independent of its origin, it would have lost all binding force on the Irish people through England having herself broken the supposed agreement in almost every particular.
Ireland's Exercise of the Right of
The Popular Elections in Ireland, 1918 and 1920. Addressing the House of Commons, in April, 1920, the present British Prime Minister (Mr. D. Lloyd George) said:
“If you asked the people of Ireland what they would accept, by an emphatic majority they would say: 'We want independence and
an Irish Republic. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The
elected representatives of Ireland now by a clear, definite majority, have declared in favor of independence-of secession.”
Had there been any ambiguity or indecisiveness as to the expression of the national will of Ireland, the responsible head of the British Government would not have recorded such judgment. It is of importance that this manifestation of the will of the Irish people should be appreciated by other foreign executives and peoples.
The three recent occasions on which the will of the Irish Nation was made manifest were (a) the General National Parliamentary Elections of December, 1918; (b) the Municipal and Urban Elections of January, 1920; and (c) the County and Rural District Councils Elections of June, 1920. An examination of the results of these elections will confirm the British Premier's conclusion.
NATIONAL PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS, 1918.
The issue was clearly put to the people (see Exhibit B and C). Those who voted for the nominees of the Sinn Fein Party know that they were voting for complete independence, for the establishment of a republic, for the repudiation of the British Parliament, and for the policy of active opposition to British government in Ireland. The Irish Unionist Alliance (the pro-English Party in Ireland), in a statement on the 1918 elections, said:
“The General Election of December, 1918, was the first occasion when the numerical strength of Sinn Fein could be officially known, for they contested all the constituencies against the sitting Home Rule members. They stood boldly on the issue of an Irish Republic, free from all connection with England, and on that issue swept the Home Rule party out of existence."
Leaving out of account the four University seats, whose occupants were elected on a special, restricted, and in fact, duplicated franchise not to be considered in a plebiscite Ireland is divided into electoral districts which return a total of one hundred and one (101) representatives. Of these representatives elected in December, 1918, seventy-two (72) belonged to the Sinn Fein party, that is, stood unequivocally for an independent Irish Republic; six (6) belonged to the old Parliamentary Party (these were self-determinationists and did not oppose the ideal of a republic as such, except on the ground that it was in their view, at the moment, unattainable); twenty-one (21) belonged to the Unionist Party proper; and two (2) were Independent Unionists.
Reckoned in terms of numbers of representatives elected, the Republicans secured a majority of practically 27/2 to 1 over all parties, and the self-determinationists (Republicans and Parliamentarians together) a majority of nearly 312 to 1, standing against the idea of union with England.
In terms of popular vote, 311,210 votes were cast for Union witl England, out of a total of 1,519,898, or in other words, a bare 20 per cent.
There are four provinces in Ireland, viz: Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster, and these are subdivided into thirty-two counties.
In the province of Leinster, of its twenty-seven (27) members, every one elected, with one exception--and he only by a plurality of fifty-four (54) votes—was a Republican.
In the province of Munster, of its twenty-four (24) members, every one elected, with one exception-and he a self-determinationist-was a Republican.
In the province of Connaught, of its thirteen (13) members, every one elected was a Republican.
Ulster elected thirty-seven (37) members; of these twenty (20) were official Unionists, two (2) Independent Unionists. The remaining fifteen (15) opposed the connection with Britain, ten (10) of the number being Republicans and five (5) self-determinationists.
Ulster has nine (9) counties. The combined Republicans and SelfDeterminationists polled a majority in no less than five (5) of the nine (9), and secured the entire representation in three counties; whilst the Unionists secured a majority in four counties only, and were able to secure the entire representation in not one (Ulster) county. Outside of Antrim there were elected in the province of Ulster, as many as fourteen (14) representatives opposed to Britain, as against ten (10) Unionists in favor of Britain. Only in the County of Antrim, which includes the city of Belfast, did the Unionists secure anything like a homogeneous predominance. That county is given as many as thirteen (13) representatives. Of these twelve (12) returned were Unionists, so that over one-half of the total popular Unionist representation in Ireland comes from a single county.
In all Ireland there are thirty-two (32) counties. In no one county was an entirely Unionist representation elected. In four only did the Unionists poll even a majority.
Compare with the Republicans, who polled a majority in no less than twenty-seven (27) counties, and secured the entire representation in as many as twenty-four (24).
Further, not a single one of the six (6) Irish boroughs returned an entirely Unionist representation, whereas four (4) out of the six (6) boroughs returned an entirely Republican representation. In only one of the six (6) Irish boroughs is the Unionist representation even a majority.
The result was even more decisive of the national will of Ireland than its figures indicate. To appreciate its full significance the conditions under which it was held must be considered. The whole election machinery, of course, was in British hands. Ireland was governed by martial law. Avowed Republicans were proscribed and Republican leaders were thrown into jail on the flimsiest charges. Every method that suggested itself for disorganizing the Sinn Fein party was utilized.
In some cases the primaries were broken up by the English soldiery and police; many of the candidates had to be selected at secret meetings in out-of-the-way places. Only twenty-six (26) of the seventy-three (73) Sinn Fein candidates were out of prison. Even some of these at liberty were prohibited from addressing electors. Republican newspapers were everywhere suppressed, and the entire press of the country subjected to British censorship. Free speech, free assemblage, were everywhere denied. Republican headquarters, central and local, were constantly raided; electoral lists were seized, and pamphlets and leaflets destroyed on sight; posters and handbills put up by the Republicans were torn down by the military and the police. The whole power of the British Government was employed to prevent a Republican verdict at the polls, and to secure a verdict favorable to England. Aeroplanes were used to distribute warnings against voting for Republican candidates. Opposition speakers were given every facility; the Republican speakers were harrassed without respite. The public press, the power of patronage and dismissal, cajolery and intimidation were all actively employed. Despite these influences and forces, a few among many, the verdict of the people was unmistakably for the establishment of the Irish Republic.
These elections were general—that is, they were held in every one of the electoral districts throughout the country. They were by ballot on the basis of adult suffrage, so that practically every grown man and woman in the island could vote. They were in effect a plebescite of the whole nation, and so it is impossible for anyone any longer to pretend that what the Irish people want is not definitely known.
As the Irish people's effort represents the only effort made by a nation to adopt the civilized program suggested by President Wilson; as their present claim to international recognition will be regarded in history as the acid test of the sincerity of the professions of statesmen during the war, and as, if successful, it will mark an epoch in the history of the development of democratic institutions and the substitution of peaceful methods for the methods of force in international affairs, these elections merit a special and extended consideration.
Below are set forth the official returns of the elections referred to:
Exclusive of the four (4) University seats, Ireland at the last election returned one hundred and one (101) representatives: Republican (supporting an Irish Republic).
72 Nationalist (demand self-determination)....
6 Unionists favoring union with England (Official)
21 Unionists favoring union with England (Independent).
1,762 1,070 3,391
5,974 3,228 College Green
9,662 2,853 Harbour
7,708 5,386 St. James'
6,256 1,556 St. Michan's
7,553 3,996 Stephen's Green
8,461 2,902 St. Patrick's
Kilkenny County Seats.....
Meath County Seats....
Wexford County Seats.