Page 3, 17th November 1939

17th November 1939
Page 3
Page 3, 17th November 1939 — Silence in Ireland Hunger-Striker Sinks

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Locations: Dublin, Belfast, Derry


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Silence in Ireland Hunger-Striker Sinks


From Our Own Correspondent On Thursday in the Dail, speaking with manifest emotion to a hushed house, the Taoiseach stated the Government's reasons for refusing

release, even to the prisoner who was reported to be almost in extremis. Mr de Valera said that one prisoner had been released, some little time ago, when on hunger strike, and immediately six others had followed his example. It was plain that further releases would be further challenges, and unless the Government drew the line it would be forced by a general strike to release all prisoners. That would be to abdicate.

The prisoners denied the authority of the Government and were concerned in a movement which claimed the right to wage war. To permit that movement to proceed, unchecked by the National Government, would be to jeopardise all the gains of the past, now represented in that National Government, and the liberties possessed by the Twenty-Six Counties.

Hence, Mr. de Valera said (I am summarising a very long statement), they had to make choice between two evils: to allow men to die whom they did not wish to die, or else surrender to the hunger-strike, abdicate, and allow the nation's liberties and safety to be flung away.

Nobody spoke alter the Taoiseach. The House sat silent. It was almost the most terrible moment of our lifetime. Day after day since then we have watched for news and have prayed that Mr de Valera's appeal to those who intervened on behalf of the strikers had been heeded—namely, that they should appeal with the Same seal to the prierotters, inducing them to see reason and to spare the nation the calamity of a fresh division in this hour when unity is needed so direly.


The Vice-Premier, Mr Sean T. O'Kelly, introduced a Supplementary Budget, increasing taxation for purposes of defence, although not so

heavily as in England. Income tax will be raised is. A loan of £6,000,000 is about to be floated.

Mr O'Kelly said that the State, though neutral, suffered with the rest of Europe. No moral obligation required Ireland to enter the conflict. Ireland for centuries had spent her blood in the battles of the world, and now she must preserve her wasted strength to build up her own liberties and to work for the recovery of her lost territory.

The Opposition made no objection to the principles of Mr O'Kelly's speech, but opposed increased taxation.


After many years the Gaelic Oireachtas, corresponding to the Welsh Eisteddfod, was revived in a five-day festival, at the opening of

which President Hyde and the leaders of the Government and other parties attended with pomp and circumstance. There was much brilliant pageantry and a true feast of music and song, much of which was broadcast.

Addresses by eminent men, including Professor Daniel Corkery, of Cork, dealt with the means to Gaeliciee public life and education completely, and a Ministry to be devoted to that object was proposed.

Some critics say that resort to a Ministry would mean the development of a Gaelic officialese rather than the revival of the rich Gaelic literature and musical culture. Others hold that the modernisation of Irish is needful, if the old culture is to live in a favourable, instead of an alien, environment.

There are some—I see a Catholic historian writing in this vein—who suppose that the Gaelic culture is pagan because it is concerned so largely with two great pre-Christian heroic sagas. These forget that the sagas come to us through monastic hands. It was the Irish monasteries that saved and recorded the heroic tales, giving them the character of great portrayals of the natural virtues; and thus the oldest, as well as the intensely Catholic Middle and Modern periods of our literature are harmoniously part of a Catholic culture.


Belfast, the city of ideal Catholic Action, with its study circles, its intensely active Legion of Mary, its mission to non-Catholics, its charities, its Catholic Drama movement, its indefatigable clergy whose whole days and evenings are an unbroken round of combined religious and social effort— Belfast had a great week, devoted to a Catholic Social Conference, which the Bishop of Down and Connor attended.

Lectures, reported in extenso in the Irish News, day after day, filled about fifteen columns of that national and Catholic daily, in small type; so I despair of conveying in a brief report any just notion of the hard thinking, the earnest exhortation to social justice, that revealed the heart and mind of Catholic Ulster.

Professional men and workers spoke, and one of them lamented that a single class was absent—the Catholic rich.

Mr S. J. Napier, LL.B., dealing with " The Church and the Poor," uttered a rebuke that ought to be noted in many quarters. He said that the advance of State Aid into so many spheres had destroyed the partnership of the material and the spiritual which is found only in Christian charity; it had fostered a sentiment of antagonism between rich and poor. There were aspects of Communism which did not conflict with Catholic teaching, such as its motto; " To each according to his needs, from each according to his faculties "—but its denial of the spiritual in man drew down condemnation, and all systems which eliminated the Christian element were in like manner at fault.


Strabane Town Councillors have been surcharged by the Belfast Government for expenses in the recent welcome of the new Bishop of Derry. Catholics throughout Ulster have protested vigorously.



From Messrs. M. H. Gill and Son, Dublin, comes the second volume which completes An Outline History of the Catholic Church, by the Rev. Reginald Walker, C.S.Sp.

This book, intended mainly for Irish schools and colleges, is the first History of the Church to come down to the actual pontificate of Pope Pius XII. It is a masterpiece of compression and clarity, and it has particular interest to general readers of Irish stock in that it deals generously with Ireland's part in Catholic history, whether in the mediaeval or the modern world.

Mr Robert Farren, whose appointment to Radio Eireann was noted recently, has published his second volume of poetry—Time's Wall Asunder (Sheed and Ward, 3s. fide—and readers will ask themselves if an Irish Thompson has arisen. The work is saturated in Catholic philosophy and the imagery is from the Catholic culture of Gaelic letters.


STRAWBERRY HILL, MIDDLESEX. THE ANNUAL SOLEMN REQUIEM for the repose of the souls of deceased Past Students, Lecturers and Benefactors will be sung in the College Chapel, on Saturday, 25th November, 1939, at

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