From Our Irish Correspondent.
"It seems to me—and I speak as a Unionist—that the policy of the British Government is to bleed us to death in order that we may have to throw in our lot with the Republican element in this country."
This striking declaration was made by Mr. W. J. Stewart, M.P., in seconding a resolution which was passed by the Belfast Corporation. The resolution pointed out that the city's industries had suffered severely from the present dislocation of world trade, and urged that a full share of British Government contracts should be placed in the North, where ample facilities existed for building ships, making linen and producing many other Government requirements.
The Six-County Government, added Mr. Stewart, could not even get a landing place for the new transatlantic Air Service, but the Free State had been able to secure it.
A Nationalist member suggested that a United Ireland was the only solution, and that a deputation should be sent to Mr. de Valera, to seek his advice. " If we had a united country," he said, " we could, like the Free State, get anything we want."
The mover of the resolution, Mr. R. Hill, Independent Unionist, said Belfast should have been considered when the contracts for the Queen Mary and her sister ship were placed. The Clyde had on hand a total tonnage of 600,000, described as the biggest record in shipbuilding since 1914. One of the reasons why the Clyde was getting these orders was that Glasgow was " going Red " and Scotland was demanding home rule. The British Government wanted to placate these people.
Another Unionist member said that the Six-County representatives at Westminster had attempted to create a false impression in England by presenting the area as a paradise; they had been ashamed to confess that the Six Counties were really a distressed area. It was a scandal that members of their Government should go round saying " All is well with Ulster." while one third of their workmen were unemployed and on the verge of starvation. The discussion and resolution followed the amendment that, in spite of the SixCounty contribution of £500,000 towards the British Defence Fund, neither Belfast shipyards nor factories had benefited by the vast rearmament plan.
Much comment has followed in the Free State on the agreement of Unionists, Independent Unionists and Nationalists., in attacking the apathy of their Government, and it is hoped that this meeting may have paved the way to closer co-operation with the Free State for the protection of mutual. interests.
While exact figures are not available there seems general agreement that emigration is taking place from the Free State to Britain on a large scale. Reports from various country districts show that the exodus is very large. Many of those who go to England join the army, many others find work in agricultural districts where at certain seasons of the year farmers find it impossible to get sufficient agricultural labourers, and a large proportion seeks with varying success to obtain industrial employment.
According to a recent estimate there were 30,500 Irish-born persons in Liverpool in 1931, and one quarter of the total population of the city is of Irish descent. And the number of Irish residents has increased considerably since. More striking is the recent discovery of the authorities that 87 per cent, of the total expenditure on public assistance is being given to persons of Irish extraction.
There is another side of the problem which also gives grounds for uneasiness. Large numbers of Irish girls go to England in search of domestic employment and fall into the hands of those engaged in the White Slave traffic. Dr. Morrisroe, the Bishop of Achonry, in a recent pastoral, warned his flock against these pitfalls, and urged the necessity for a proper training in domestic science.
Attention was called to the alluring advertisements in the press. The very nature of those advertisements—frequently they emphasise that no training is required— should of itself be a danger signal.
The Liverpool Society for the Prevention of International Traffic in Women and
Children last year assisted 992 girls. Of these 940 were Irish.
The Government is embarrassed by the situation. It is now generally rumoured that the census taken some months ago will not reveal the increase in population that was anticipated, but will show a substantial fall. However as yet no one has offered any satisfactory remedy.
The Trade Union Congress
Social justice instead of 'free competition for private gain should be the guiding principle of economic life, declared Mr. Ml, Drumgoole, President of the Irish Trade Union Congress, at the forty-second annual congress in Tralee last week. Capitalism in decay was turning increasingly to methods of violent reaction. Neither Cornmunism nor Fascism held the solution for the social and economic ills of the country.. Rather must they with confidence seek the solution on the lines adumbrated by Leo XIII in his encyclicals on social order. The Irish working class had rarely if ever lost sight of the spiritual ideal, which was the real inspiration of Labour activity.
The Congress condemned the Government's attempts to stabilise private ownership in the vital industries by the adventitious aid of tariffs and other devices, and demanded that the industries and services of the nation should be reconstructed on a basis of planned public ownership. Machinery had usurped its place and the problem was to make man master of the machine, so that it should be a blessing, serving to provide leisure, happiness, and the good things of life in full and flowing measure.
The establishment of agricultural comniunities on a co-operative basis in unproductive ranches was suggested as a means to lessen unemployment. A tribunal was also proposed to prepare a planned scheme of afforestation, roadmaking, drainage, provision of public parks and swimming pools.
Other resolutions adopted included a demand for a forty-hour week in all industrial employment, the setting up of arbitration machinery for the Civil Service, the abolition of the waiting period in respect of unemploymerit benefit, and the raising of the school leaving age.