Page 3, 26th February 1937

26th February 1937
Page 3
Page 3, 26th February 1937 — I.C.F. Strongly In Opposition

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From Our Dublin Correspondent

After a heated debate the Irish Free State legislated to prevent the enlistment of volunteers from its territory on either side in Spain.

The Measure was opposed vigorously by the Irish Christian Front, which before the Bill was introduced adopted a resolution that : — "It is felt that if this Bill becomes law in present existing circumstances it will place this country definitely on the side of the Government of anti-Christ Spain, and an earnest appeal is made to all members of the Dail to consider very carefully their attitude on this Bill before Christian Catholic Ireland t akes such a fateful step."

When President de Valera had introduced the Bill in the Dail, Deputy P. Belton, chairman of the I.C.F., declared that it was being rushed through the House " at the behest of the Non-Intervention Committee, composed of the Radical, Socialist and Communist nations of Europe."


Professor J. M. O'Sullivan—supported by Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald—proposed that the Measure be postponed until the Government had broken of relations with the Caballero Government. He charged the President's party with giving in to the propaganda from Great Britain which represented the Spanish war as a struggle of democracy against Fascism, declared that the President had gone against the sympathies of the Irish people, and denounced the sending of the Free State representative back to St. Jean-de-Luz, where he will continue to be accredited to the Largo Caballero Government.

Ireland's Sympathy with Franco The President's statement of his Government's attitude was in these terms:

" No matter on what side in the present conflict one's sympathies may lie and there can be little doubt on which side is the sympathy of the majority of the people of this country —there must be a general desire to see the present conflict in Spain brought to a speedy conclusion. The Governments represented on the Non-Intervention Committee, realising that so long as arms and ammunition were imported into Spain, and that volunteers from various countries could join the ranks of either party, the present war in Spain was likely to continue almost indefinitely.

"The Government of Saorstat Eireann have agreed to the proposals of the Nonintervention Committee because they believe it is the only contribution that the Saorstat can make towards bringing the present conflict in Spain to an end. and preventing that conflict from spreading beyond Spain and thus endangering the peace of Europe. The Government of the Saorstat also believe that it is better for the Spanish people to settle their differences free from outside interference, and work out for themselves the form of Government most suited to their own ideals and opinions. Clearly it is only such a Government that can last there."

Simultaneous Action The reason for hurrying the Measure was that all the parties to non-intervention required to act simultaneously. A passage in Mr. de Valera's speech which was taken up wrongly by the Opposition, he said, was repeated from the official note, as follows:

" I am anxious that we should play our part in trying to shorten the conflict in Spain by preventing the export of arms to the combatants, and also by preventing recruitment for the various sides who are fighting out in Spain—a fight which for most of them, at any rate, is not the sort of fight we think it is, but just a tight of one ism ' against the other."

In this, the President simply repeats the judgment on Russian and German intervention which he expressed in a former debate.

When Recognition Will Come Asked by Deputy MacDermot whether General Franco's Government would he accorded recognition when it was demonstrably stabilised and commanded the obedience of a clear majority of the country, the President answered yes.

Asked further whether the Free State would accord recognition in union with the other States of the British Commonwealth, the President said that group recognition by the States of the League of Nations might he fitter.

Outrages Condemned

Answering Deputy James Dillon regarding the severance of relations with Valencia, the President said that his Government's aim was to work with the European community of nations for peace and stability, and added:— The assumption that Governments in diplomatic relations with Spain condone the horrors which have been committed against nuns, priests and civilians, simply because they have not formally accredited their representatives to General Franco's Government, is without foundation."

The pith of the debate is that the President has expressed the undoubted sympathy of the hulk of the Irish people with General Franco and their indignation at the Red outrages, but has re-affirmed the principle guiding his policy from the start, that non-intervention is necessary to the peace of the world, and that intervention cannot help the good cause effectively.

" Irish Times " Approves

In these views the President has the support of the majority of the Dail and, believe, of the electorate. Even the Opposition Irish 7'imes, which seldom has a word of approval for the President, declares that his action has been both principled and prudent. "If a ban on volunteers," says this paper, " hurts—as it probably does hurt—the conscience of many Irishmen, they must recognise that the Free State Government is playing a small, but vital, part in preserving the world's peace."

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