Page 11, 5th February 1937

5th February 1937
Page 11
Page 11, 5th February 1937 — Irish Letter

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Locations: Dublin, Belfast, London, Paris


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Irish Letter

'FLU STILL RAGES : DEATH OF MGR. FINEGAN Partition: Imaginary Talk Between MacDonald And de Valera

From Our Dublin Correspondent

The epidemic rages ever more violently, and among the many losses that lreland has suffered, the greatest is that of the beloved Bishop of Kilmore.

The death of Dr. Finegan causes the second loss to the Irish hierarchy in little over a month. Cardinal MacRory presided at the funeral, and Presdent de Valera assisted. Dr. Finegan was one of the fine old type of austere churchmen. His diocese, which comprises County Cavan and portions of neighbouring counties, lies along the Ulster border, a wild, lovely country of mountain and lake, and little, stonewalled Ulster fields and small holdings. In olden times Cavan was reckoned as part of Connacht, but it has been included in Ulster for the last three-hundred years.

An Honoured Protestant

Kilmore is interesting in seventeenthcentury history as the diocese to which the Protestant Bishop Bedell came from Trinity College, Dublin. That remarkabTe Englishman, who sponsored the translation of the Bible into Irish, was taken prisoner in the Catholic rising of 1641, and died in

captivity. The Catholic Bishop had resumed occupancy of the cathedral, but he allowed the Protestant prelate to be buried in the precincts, and the Irish army did the dead Englishman military honours.

It has been suggested that Bedell, like his friend Dr. Ussher, the Protestant Archbishop who most shaped the doctrine of the Protestant Church of Ireland, became reconciled to the Catholic Church on his

deathbed. I doubt if this is likely to be proved, though the evidence in Ussher's case is strong.

Political Deadlock?

The statement in Parliament by Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, Dominions Secretary, that Mr. de Valera urged on him the desirability of the ending of partition confirms everybody's guess that these statesmen could not have talked for five hours without touching on the supreme AngloIrish cause of dispute.

Mr. MacDonald said that no plan for union was proposed or discussed, so there was nothing to lay before the Six-County Government.

Reading between the lines, those who know Mr. de Valera's mind reconstruct the conversation thus:—

Mr. MacDonald: What is the essential condition of a final political settlement, such as you would recommend to the Free State electorate for acceptance?

Mr. de Valera: Above all else, the unity of Ireland must be restored. Mr. MacDonald: Would you allow the North people to retain their local Parliament?

Mr. de Valera: 1 will answer that if and when they make that proposal. There is nothing before us at present.

Mr. MacDonald: How do you propose that the British Government should bring about union?

Mr. de Valera: It is for them to find out the way to undo the division which

they, and nobody else, created. No Irishman voted for Partition, Nationalist or

Unionist. It was the British Government which devised the Border, handing a huge Nationalist area over to a small Unionist corner. It is for them to correct that wrong if they earnestly desire a lasting friendship with us.

That would leave the position where it stands—that London knows the conciliatory mind of Ireland, and the onus is on it to solve the deadlock.

Point Against Ulster

Several speeches and articles in Belfast have taken a most irreconcilable line. It must be said—and let the saying not be misinterpreted—that the Belfast diehards are much worse enemies of England now than ever Mr. de Valera has been.

While the President has offered Irish friendship and vital co-operation in defence, if only all Ireland be put on the Free State's footing, those diehards have nothing to offer save perpetuation of a fend and of rankling grievances. If in the end the Free State's will to compromise ends, the men who boasted themselves England's friends will be to blame.

General Election in September?

A general election must take place this year. Mr. Sean T. O'Kelly, T.D., VicePresident, said last week that it will probably will take place in September.

Mr. O'Kelly — The Irish Times publishes a forecast by which Mr. O'Kelly is to be the new head of state—the office which the new Constitution will substitute for the Governor Generalship.

Mr. O'Kelly, a Dublin man, is one of the most popular of all our political figures, thanks to his rare gifts of character. He was a leader in municipal affairs before 11916, was out in the Rising. He represented the hidden Republican Government in Rome and in Paris in 1920-1921, and I remember him describing interviews with Cardinal Merry del Val, who conveyed to him the mind of the Pope and received the case for the Irish insurgents.

— Or Mr. Pakenhani The conjecture of the Irish Times may be mistaken. The name of the Hon. Frank Pakenham has been mentioned as well as Mr. O'Kelly's. While Mr. Pakertham, author of Peace by Ordeal, the most important work on the 1921 settlement, is not a party politician, he is a highlyconstructive political philosopher.

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