Page 11, 4th December 1936

4th December 1936
Page 11
Page 11, 4th December 1936 — Irish Free State And Spain

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Locations: Dublin, Moscow


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Irish Free State And Spain

Too Soon For Franco Recognition

Mr. De Valera's Statement

Frain Our Dublin r, orrespinident THE long-awaited debate on Spain took place in 1),iil Eireann on Friday. I say " long-awaited " because the country is seething with smothered feeling on this grand issue of the time, and men have longed for some action by our political leaders, if not in active support of the Catholic cause in Spain, at /east in clear definition of the country's sympathy.

The debate was opened by Mr. Cosgrove, who cashed " that the Government of General Franco should be recognised, and that recognition should be withdrawn from the combination which opposes him." The war in Spain "is a war for the victory or the defeat of Communism and all it stands for, with its denial of Christian principles, individual liberty and democracy. I do not see," Mr. Cosgrove said, " how a country with our history, our beliefs, our traditions and our ideas, moral, religious and political, can fail to withdraw recognition from a Government standing for everything we abhor, and accord it to a Government which is fighting enemies that are the greatest we have to combat in Europe."

Professor O'Sullivan—who was Minister for Education under Mr. Cosgrove's Presidency, and has written learnedly on the Catholic criticism of Communism—fol

lowed. " The Government in Spain might not be the precise form of Government which they themselves would set up, but that was not the issue. They wanted first and foremost to defeat Moscow and the Communist cause in Spain."

Independent Criticism These earnest and high-minded speeches certainly had nine-tenths of Irish opinion Wit.n them in their sympathy with General Franco's cause, and it was lucky that the first speaker to oppose recognition was not

,_, a uovernment supporter. Mr. Frank MacDermot, the Independent leader—who is )ndependent in the best sense, and inva jably brings a sincere, non-partizan view to the debate—agreed, like everyone elsc, with the principles which animated the motion, but said that he could not support Mr. Cosgrave's proposal of recognition. "This motion, in effect, is a vote of censure on our Government for their attitude to the Spanish conflict and their alleged indifference to the general methods of Communism."

He could not see cause for censure and believed " the President and his Government are perfectly ready and even eager to recognise General Franco's administration when the proper moment arrives." in order to secure Ireland against the influence of the Communist International, gelernment on truly Christian lines, and onl the principles of class harmony, was th 1

soundest policy. Hysteria .might bring co ditions in which Communism would flourish.

The President Replies

President de Valera—for the first time that I can recollect—was found in complete agreement with the Independent leader. He said that any reasonable person must take the deputy's views as right and proper, and that little remained for hint to say.

The debate might have closed there, on the point that the House was opposed to Cdmmunism, but that the majority considered it important at present to accord present recognition to General Franco; but the President evidently had prepared a full statement of his mental position between Communism and Fascism. This being so i portant a revelation of the Government's t aI

itude, it is necessary to quote here at unusual length.

Ido not think (Mr. de Valera said) there is anybody in the country who looks at the GOyernment's aetions dispassionately who will not also be satisfied that the Government has no more use for Communist philosophy than has any member of the Opposition. The question is how are we best to defend our ohnegophy: the philosophy of the vast majority of the Irish people, and their attitude towards life; how we are to defend that philosophy aid to prevent organisations with a cornpi tely different philosophy from making in oadm here.

he policy of bitting on the head everybody w o is opposed to you is a convenient one for those who are strong enough i to do it. 'There mime doubt it will silence opposition for a certain time, lint iu the loud rue you are not going to kill any of these ideas, good or bad, in that way. 'You are giving strength to foster these by preventing these false ideas from being examined, and I believe that by examining these ideas in our country we have the best possible safeguard against the inroads of Communism. Therefore, so far as the Government is concerned in its attitude in this matter, we Jive nothing to regret. nothing to retract, aid we do not propose to change our attitude.

We Do Not Know . . .

As to whether I lie recognition of lienertil Feanco's Government should be accorded at this stage, Mr. de Valera said: Principles are clear—they are well-established principles, the principles upon which any prudent Government or State acts in matters of this sort.

Obviously when you recognise a oew Government you should recognise it when there is some clear indication of stability. some clear indication that the Government will, in fact, continue to be able to speak on behalf of the nation of which it is the Government. I do not think that that moment can be said to have arrived in the caste of Spain. We do npt know what may happen in Spain. The fact of our sympathies does not come into this *atter. It is e question of what is the usual practice, what is our right and our duty in the matter.

The Vatican Example

The grounds on which it is customary to alet do not need to be explainetl; they are selfevident to everybody. It would be ridiculous obviously to give recognition to a Government that was not able to maintain itself, and it would certainly not lead in general—I am talking generally—to cordial relations between the Government of one country and another if relations had to be re-established with a restored Government.

'I do not say that that consideration applied altogether here, but it is the general basis upon which as a prudent rule recognition is ot given before there is a fair hope of stability. But we are told that the interests are of eh importance that we ought. in order to help General Franco, give this recognition. I Itnot think there has been any attempt to s ow that it would, in fact, help General raneo. " We are told that the cause of Christianity demands it. It is extraordinary, if that is so, when the Head of Christianity in the Vatican State has not himself deemed it prudent or right so to accord it. And the difficulties there are not of a political character clearly. If there were any consideration of that sort the present position, as far as Italy is concerned, would not stand in the way. Consequently the Holy Father in not having given recognition already must believe that it was not in the best interests of Christianity that recognition should be given. We are freer perhaps and can take more lightly the consequences of our acts. I do not know that recognition on our part would involve any grievous consequences to us as a people. But if we are taking it on the high grounds of protection and help for Christianity, then I think at least that we ought to hesitate when the Head of Christianity has not deemed it wise or prudent to give the recognition we are asked to give."

Our line has been in accordance with the general line taken by Slates in cireuntstances like tide. Gerrnany &i nit Italy have accorded recognition, but they have Accorded it for very deer and inintedinte political motives.

We do net believe in their theory of flue State any more than we believe in the Communist theory of the State. There is, I am glad to see, from the opposite benches. an agreementthough there was a I into we might have well begutt to doubt it—that on r people believe ill a democratic form of government, mid that a democratic form of government is, in fact, at least for us in our circumstances, a better form than any of I lie others.

We are gradually getting to agree upon certain fundamentuls. lied I think it is goierally to the advantage of the country that that should he so. -end also env thismatter-of eryniitathy there is very little difference between the sympathies oh the people On the, Government benches and these on the Opposition, as far as views about Communism are concerned. .1 feel that we could not etert at mere recognition. I believe that we must inevitably, if we ivere serious, go very much furiltel. If we are not prepared to do that it is cm some grounds of prudence,. and I am wondering

whether the grouads of prudence which would justify us not going further would not also justify us pet going even that far. That is the view I Luke.

The general principle is based on this: that the peoples of State ought to be allowed to get (het form ot government which they thetaselyes tire prepared to accept. We can not. unless we "are prepared to go very much further, itt u isdom give atm recognition tint il it quite clear that we have a

:ion in Spam t hal is likely to huit. We have 1tki'it up (110 jiost Lou of Itoo-iiitermitiolb 1 ani glad I o I hal the Opposit ion have

tigreed that that 1)011,•.N is a V," ISI• 011U.

T110 trouble to-day, it is that there is a tendency on 14)111 sides to make Spain a general battleground; to have people who riiiipalltise with one side or the other to lout aill their forces thPre. That can ItAve may one effect -a getteral Buntpeen conflagration, and I do not believe that such a connintration would help either the people of Spain or the (*WOW that we would like to eve I riinophitid. 1 think that the rue Wish of all our people a On ICI i tft stet, that struggle mule(' 118 hilleklY as posstbte, and ialla which would enahlo the majority of the people of Spain to live

a ad progreats in the was' Wiliell they desire.:

Passages in which the President spoke rather sharply of Opposition policy are omitted here, as being party matter. On the broad issue, his speech makes clear the mind of most of Ireland, I think, although a less guarded expression of his known sympathy with General Franco-s armies would have given pleasure.

It is a pity that a vote was taken, and that Mr. Cosgrave's motion, instead of being withdrawn, was defeated by 65 to 44. the voting running On party lines when unanimity on the grounds of sympathetic neutrality would have been easy to carry.

A Political Postscript

Here follows a speculative political postscript. In the course of his reasoning, Mr. MacDermot threw out an argument which opens constitutional vistas.

" Was it being suggested," he asked, " that they should recognise Franco's Government without any consultation with other Governments of the British Commonwealth? Had the Opposition faced the difficulties of the constitutional position that would be created if the King and his Ministers in this country recognised one Government in Spain, while the King and his Ministers in other parts of the Commonwealth recognised another Government there? "

The implications of this — and of the President's general agreement with Mr. MacDermot, without taking him up on this issue—are large.

It will be remembered that a divergent policy of Ireland under Grattar's Parliament from England, at one time nearly leading to one State going to war without the other, was one reason that made Unionists and Separatists agree that the Dual Monarchy of 1782-1800 was unworkable save as a makeshift.

What of the Multiple Monarchy of the Commonwealth theory? Does the hint of a possibly divergent foreign policy, rising from religion signify a similar unworkability? Mr. MacDermot's point will have importance when a lasting Irish settlement comes to be sought.

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