Page 15, 8th October 1937

8th October 1937
Page 15
Page 15, 8th October 1937 — SO " RONNIE " KNOX CLAIMS TO BE IRISH

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Locations: Dublin, Madrid, Belfast, Newry


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Popular Lecturer In Frontier Town

Mgr. Knox gave a powerful lecture in Belfast—reported in another column. He was induced to give a lecture also in the frontier town of Newry, and I went up to hear this, fiading Newry Town Hall crowded with the creme de lacreme of Catholic Down, Armagh and Louth.

The subject at Newry was " Progress." Fr. Ronald (as we cannot help calling him still) spoke of the world in which he was reared, when the inevitability of progress was taken for granted, and everyone around him assumed that what was not progressive was bad. The rapidity of mechanical development was the cause of this faith in progress. It received an astonishing set-back when the war, incredible at first, came. Since the war, nobody save some Victorian survivors, believed in progress as inevitable or in democracy as good, and several great nations had repudiated them altogether. If the Victorians had taken religion duly into account, they would not have tied their faith to progress so pathetically.

At this point, the lecture suddenly ended. The final sentence was the only reference to the spiritual bearing of the question, which seemed to be, as a well-known County Down author remarked afterwards, still in the prefatory stage.

Never Existed in Ireland

I was set thinking that the faith in Progress which Mgr. Knox so vividly described from a Protestant-rearing in England, never existed in Ireland. The Catholics. apart from the sal eguard of their philosophy, were unlikely to believe in Inevitable Progress when they were fighting, fighting always, for their schools, their land. their liberty. On the other hand, the Protestants certainly did not believe in Progress when they, too, were fighting. but for ascendancy. Neither group could believe in Progress in Newry, which once was a more important town than Belfast. but sank during the Victorian period to misery.

In came the white flour, and Newry's big mills closed. In came foreign goods. and the tanneries, the textile industry. closed. Today Newry is a town of dusty ruin. People who lived in such a town never shared the comfortable feelings of Fr. Knox's Victorians. In short, history made all of us, Catholic and Protestant, severely realistic.

What delighted everybody in the hall was Mgr. Knox's claim to be an Irishman— a returning prodigal son." He said that his family belonged to Ulster, and he regarded himself as coming home, when he came to -Newry. Even before this, he had received a long, long welcome of applause, but his claim to be one of us doubled the pleasure that we got from his visit.

One of Ulster's ablest business men, Mr. John Quinn, presided, and there were great numbers of clergy from the two dioceses which meet at Newry, present.

Cavan 'Sr. Kerry

In my account of the Gaelic football final at Croke Park last week, I omitted to tell that the ball was thrown in by the Bishop-elect of Kilmorc, his Lordship being now, as to residence, a Cavan-man. The game caused such stir as we have not known for years before. It is being discussed still, and is described on all sides as one of the finest, closest contests ever seen. The whole accommodation at Croke Park was booked out in a day for the replay, on October 17, when Cavan and Kerry will struggle for the all-Ireland honours in a Homeric meeting.

Gaelic football is played with fifteen to a side. It resembles Rugby inasmuch as handling of the ball is practised, but a round ball is used, and there are no "scrums." It is not quite so rapid a game as hurling, nor, of course, so picturesque. Its rules are a modification of the traditional football game of the countryside. Outside Ireland, it is played only among our exiles in England and America.

May I suggest to listeners to tune in to Athlone for the relay of Sunday week's game. Presumably Fr. Hamilton, of Ennis, will'give the broadcast commentary again.

The Annuities Case

must answer Mr. A. Kennedy, of Malahide, who challenges my statement about the Annuities.

I was writing in correction of an author who said that Mr. de Valera relies on the principle that the Irish people repudiated the annuities along with the conquest. I explained that, whatever the merits of this argument, it is not that on which Mr. de Valera takes his stand.

The case which Mr. de Valera puts is one of juristic fact, which I summarised but did not argue. The case is that the 1920 Act remitted the Annuities, and that responsibility for them never subsequently has been accepted or ratified by Parliament. We cannot admit responsibility until it has been laid before Parliament and accepted. Right or wrong, that is the case; and I put it to English readers to show what we are claiming, but I do not argue its merits, as that is for a court.

Mr. Kennedy chooses to argue the case and he condemns it. His theory is that the 1920 Act never operated. However. it did operate for one day. The British Government did not cede power to the Republic (which it refused to recognise) but to the Parliament of Southern Ireland, which had no being save under the 1920 Act, and which was convened accordingly for one day to receive power and transfer it to the Free State.

By requiring the Parliament to be erected, the British Government committed itself to the provisions of the 1920 Act, which ceded the Annuities.

The " Final " Settlement

Secondly, after the establishment of the Free State, a final financial settlement was to be made. No such settlement has been made and ratified, as yet, so it cannot be said that Ireland has agreed to pay the annuities, whatever arrangement of the various claims and counterclaims comes to be made at last.

From this it will be seen that we have a juridical case, be it right or wrong. A jurist of Professor Berriedale Keith's eminence admits it. Such a case cannot be dismissed in a curt letter, and my point is clear—that the matter is one for settlement by an impartial court, or by friendly negotiation.

We have offered to go to an impartial court, and to abide by its decision. Can anybody who believes he has a case do less in justice to himself, or act more fairly?

General O'Duffy a Freeman

Kilkenny conferred the freedom of the city on General O'Duffy, and the Mayor, Alderman Magcnnis, praised the General's stand for the Catholic cause in Spain.

After signing the roll, the General recalled the days when Kilkenny was the capital of the Catholic Confederation, and when its champion, 6,meral Owen Roe O'Neill, fresh from the defence of Arras, won the victory of Benburb, outside Ai magh, with the blessing of the Nuncio, Archbishop Rinuccini, on his arms. He spoke of the •gallantry of volunteers from Kilkenny who fought before Madrid.

The General, who was Mr. de Valera's leading opponent two years ago, spoke of the present Government's conscientous service and praised the vice-president, Mr. Sean T. O'Kelly, whose name stood just above his on the roll, saying that the Minister had wrought splendidly to house the poor in better homes than the slums.

National Monument to Tone ?

A movement to erect a statue to Wolfe Tone's memory in Dublin has been revived this week, with Dr. Richard Hayes, the noted historical writer, as chief sponsor. This is largely the result of the attacks on Tone.

J. McM., of Killarney, disagrees with my opinion that Tone was vindicated in the recent voluminous controversy, too complicated to go into here. Well, that is a matter of opinion. However, my statement of fact that " most of us think " that Tone was vindicated stands; for it is certain that the bulk of opinion is still on Tone's side. as may be seen by the revived movement for Tone's commemoration, and by the attitude of the national newspapers.

The document which J. McM. cites as proof that Tune was an informer was written by Tone and printed by his admiring son. It has been before the world for over 100 years, and nobody until now saw in it evidence of anything discreditable.

In my judgment, the attention paid to Tone as a patriot. during a century of struggle for independence, has obscured his importance as emancipator and as teacher of the Catholic body to organise. He was effectively the founder of that Catholic democracy, of which O'Connell became the giant exponent.

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