From Our Dublin Correspondent There was high excitement—probably unduly high—in Ireland, north and south, when the news came that President de Valera had interrupted his journey home to hold long conversations with Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, Dorninions Secretary in L9ndon.
In the south it was aasurned that a settlement of the " economic war " was discussed. In the north it was supposed that the unity of Ireland was the subject of conversation. 1 heard Belfast business men of the true-blue Protestant type saying to one another that some sort of settlement simply must come.
The Irish editions of English newspapers gave conflicting accounts. Some said that the terms on which the Free State would consent to be represented at the Coronation were the issue; others, Free State action in unison with Britain to prevent Spanish recruiting—and so on. On his return, Mr. de Valera, looking remarkably well and cheerful, said nothing to confirm or deny any of these speculations, which are no more than speculations.
Lord Craigavon's Speech
Unhurried, and with a fixed aim, Mr. de Valera is steadily bringing us nearer to a settlement.
Some relief of the trade war is likely to come soon, but the supreme point of dispute, partition, will not be removed for another while, after all, if we are to judge by the speech made by Viscount Craigavon in Belfast at the very time when the President was on the boat for Ireland.
Lord Craigavon declared that Ireland must continue under two parliaments and "Ulster " (meaning six counties out of Ulster's nine) must retain their present boundary.
He pointed to the severance of Norway from Sweden thirty years ago as the example of the permanent partition of Ireland—a unit of two-thousand glorious years—to which he looked forward.
Hopes Dashed This speech has done more to dash Irish goodwill to Britain in this critical year than anything that the most bitter hater of Eng
land could say. It rebuffs all friendly overtures, all peaceful wishes.
The ex-Unionist Irish Times writes:
President de Valera want S an independent Republic; lie wants it Dot for the twenty-six counties, but for the whole of Ireland. Knowing that this ideal is quite imposaible, he is willing, as he has said on many dons. to to make very substantial concessions to opinion in the North. If partition could be undone, he probably would agree to leave the six counties with the measure of autonomy that they enjoy at present ; the only difference would be that they would work under a Dublin, instead of under a London, 'Parliament. Furthermore, he probably would agree in these circumstances to retain full membership of the Commonwealth for a thus united Ireland.
By "a Dublin Parliament." this organ means a Federal Parliament to which London would transfer the " reserved powers" now exercised over a quarter of Ireland. To such a plan Lord Craigavon and his friends apparently say no; and thus they commit these islands to a longer strife.
The Irish Christian Front'
The resignation of Mr. Alec McCabe, one of the principal leaders of the Irish Christian Front, from the Standing Committee, is reported in the Irish Press.
This follows Mr. McCabe's recent sharp difference with Mr. P. Belton, TO., the chairman of the body. A few weeks ago, Dr. J. P. Brennan, a highly-influential member, also announced his withdrawal.
In view of these resignations, it seems unnecessary to justify my recent notcs, to which the Standing Committee of the I.C.F. has taken exception.
The statement that the Front " was never so flourishing " must be taken with these signs of dissatisfaction and the fact that the Front has come into conflict twice with the Government Press, which represents, presumably, a clear majority of Catholic people in Ireland.
Need for National Convention My comment, that the Front ought to have summoned a national convention, was made first several weeks ago, and I have heard the same thing said by prominent workers in the organisation.
I am not saying that Mr. Belton was right or wrong in those utterances which one party has taken amiss. I am only pointing out that, as long as the Front is in a formative state, without a national convention behind an elected governing body, its spokesmen cannot criticise with authority, its policy remains unauthentic, and its effectiveness must suffer.
Only a strictly non-party body, with an agreed non-party policy, can do the good work which was undertaken, 1 am sorry that the Standing Committee has obliged me thus to underline what I wrote as a quiet and friendly counsel. The sooner a Convention is held the better, for further weakening of the Front would be a blow to Catholic prestige.
Ireland's Gift to Spain
It is pleasant to record the blessing of the first ambulance sent by the I.C.F. to Spain, by the Most Rev. Dr. Wall, Bishop of Thasos, assistant to the Archbishop of Dublin, who said that his Grace would have been present himself but for indisposition. The gift was a tribute from the ancient land of Ireland to the equally ancient land of once-Inippy Spain. It would be a comfort to the needy Spaniards engaged in that terrible struggle, and would earn their prayers and thanks.
Mr. Belton thanked the Bishop and recalled that the Front had sprung into being from the plain lay-folk. It had been thanked and blessed by the Bishops of Spain, some of them in hiding, and they rejoiced that a dignitary of the Church in Ireland gave them this grand encouragement.
Among those who assisted were Lord ffrench, Dr. Conor Martin and Mr. F. M.
Summerfield. The ambulance, a picture of which appeared last week in the Catholic Herald. is a fine vehicle, the first of several that are being made in Dublin.
It is hoped then the others will have the wording on them in Irish as well as
Spanish. The neglect of Irish on the first vehicle has been criticised.
Dr. Brennan Explains Since I wrote the foregoing notes. Dr. J. P. Brennan has written to the newspapers a letter which will pull the I.C.F. together.
He says that although he resigned from the Standing Committee he is still a member of the National Executive. He has had " a full and frank discussion " with Mr. Belton, and differences have been settled. He concludes with a tribute to Mr. Belton for his excellent work, and is certain that " the forthcoming Convention " will show similar appreciation.
This letter ought to check criticism on one side and premature action on the other, pending the Convention which will render the 1.C.F. a truly national body. It marks the crisis and close of controversy.
" A Saint in a Hurry"
Under the title "A Saint in a Hurry."' the great Spanish Jesuit play was acted in Belfast last week. The author of El Divino Impaciente, Jose Maria Pennin, by the way, is serving in the Patriot forces at Seville.
The occasion of the production in Belfast was the opening of a Catholic hall in Ballyhackamore by the Bishop of Down and Connor, who read the play some time ago and now enjoyed the performance— which, in some ways, was even better than the production at the Abbey Theatre in 1935.
There was a great moment in the last scene, when St. Francis Xavier is dying in sight of the coast of China, and prays:a- . . . Now as my light is flickering out I pray: bless Thou Ignatius Loyola, and care Thou for my people, the people of Spain. Yea, Lord. and if the clay ever should come when they forget Thee, and if their own works should fail to appease Thee and Thy justice, cast then also into the balance all that has been suffered for Thee—by Xavier.
Combined Catholic Thinking Dr. Magecan, when declaring the 'hall open, said that he regarded a parish hall as almost as important as a church and a school, as a means to keep the Catholic people together and to carry on the work of Christian education. They could have plays and social gatherings there, but let them have, above all else, study circles.
Never does Dr. Mageean fail to recom mend study circles to his people. They are the springs of that remarkable vigour in Catholic Action which distinguishes the northern Irish city.
Next week—beginning. indeed, on the day when this Letter appears—Belfast will hold its seventh Christian Arts Guild dramatic festival; and festival is the right
word. The Spanish play "A Saint in a Hurry," which naturally is of peculiar interest at the moment, will be given one night during the week.
Broadcasts to Schools
A special broadcast was given by DublinAthlone on Friday to mark the reaching of the total of 100,000 licences. Assuming five listeners to every radio set. the Free State now has half a million listeners —one in six of the population.
Educational broadcasts to schools were initiated during the week. They are given every day from 2.30 p.m. to 3 o'clock. The scheme has been received with enthusiasm, and congratulations have showered on the Director. Myself, I have heard only one of the broadcasts so far, but I must testify that it was one of the cleverest and charming things I have heard on the wireless.
The speaker, Mr. Peadar O'Dowd, taught little prayers in Gaelic—a morning offeting and the like—and some jolly little songs about the arts and crafts, doing it all with a play of humour that held some grownup children fascinated. Irish folk in Britain ought to tune in to M.531 and enjoy this simple pleasant fare.