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LEINSTER LEADER EDITORIAL 26 FEBRUARY 1916

NAAS, SATURDAY,  FEBRUARY 26, 1916.

MR. REDMOND’S RECRUITING MANIFESTO.

The Manifesto issued by Mr. John Redmond. M.P., appealing to the remainder of the young men of Ireland of military age to come forward and offer their services as soldiers in the Irish regiments of the British army is one of the most remarkable documents issued since the outbreak of the war, and by far the most vital concerning the farming life of the country. Coming from a man in Mr. Redmond’s position as Chairman of the Irish Parliamentary Party, and the acknowledged constitutional leader of the Irish race at home and abroad, and having the approval of the Government charged with the conduct of the war, it is an authoritive exhortation to the people of Ireland who have pinned their faith to the political policy of Mr. Redmond and his colleagues, to fulfill a duty which they owe to themselves and those in whom their future government is in keeping. Couched in language which denotes the considered judgment and deliberate decision of a man who has arrived at a mature, conclusion as to what part this country ought to play In the struggle now convulsing the Continent, the Manifesto cannot be ignored or brushed aside by the representative public men who man our public boards, or those in a position of authority to influence recruiting, and who have already passed resolutions approving the attitude taken up by Mr. Redmond regarding the war. The considerations which have actuated Mr. Redmond in taking up this attitude, and which have been repeatedly set out in his public utterances, are familiar to all, and do not need, repetition here. They are, however, based on two distinct issues which must appeal to those to whom they have been addressed. One is that Ireland’s political future and freedom depend upon the outcome of the war, and the other is her preservation from the alleged militarism with its grinding tyranny and destructive confiscations which Germany seeks to impose on small nationalities such as ours. These issues are unambiguously emphasised in the manifesto published by Mr. Redmond. Great Britain, he points out, has finally and irrevocably decided to trust Ireland, and he calls on Ireland to prove that the concession of liberty would henceforth be a strength instead of a weakness to the Empire. The war is a just one, provoked by the intolerable military despotism of Germany, a war in defence of the rights and liberties of small nationalities, and Ireland would be false to her history and to every consideration of honour, good faith, and self interest if she did not respond to his appeal. These are the words addressed by Mr. Redmond to the remainder of the young men of military age in this country, and especially to the farming community who have so much at stake in the issue of the struggle. To give effect to the response he expects from this appeal, he urges the young men of Ireland who are still available to join the reserve battalions of the Irish regiments in the British army. We have no doubt that these weighty words will be carefully perused by those to whom they are addressed, and having received that thought and consideration which they demand, the conscientious convictions which they lead to will guide them to answer Mr. Redmond’s appeal as befits the situation which he sets forth. Ireland’s future and destiny must not be lost sight of, and the aspirations and struggles of centuries, which have helped to keep burning brightly the sacred flame of her freedom and nationality must be remembered at this crucial hour, when so much depends upon the young men of today and whose actions now will be judged and appraised by future generations. The lessons of the past, the opportunities of the present, and prospects of the future are considerations which must weigh with the young men of today, and influence their response to the appeal issued by Mr. Redmond. As far as the farmers are concerned and to whom Mr. Redmond specially appeals, their present position, as well as their patriotism, must dictate to them the course they ought to pursue. The majority of them are now the owners of their farms and the land they till, and in the interests of themselves and their families, as well as in justice to those who have gone before them, and who fought landlordism and sacrificed life and liberty in its destruction, it is incumbent upon them to now stick to the fruits of the victory which the Land War brought them. Emigration, famine, and plantations failed in their purpose in the past, and now that the farmers are rooted in the soil of their forefathers, it is for them to consolidate the position they have won. How best they are to do this and defeat possible attempts, present or future, to deprive them of the fruits of the victories they have won, are matters which must exercise their acumen and judgment. Whether they see salvation secured in Mr. Redmond’s advice or otherwise are factors which, however, must largely influence the future political relations of Ireland and England. There can be no doubt whatever that up to the present the policy enunciated by Mr. Redmond has been emphatically endorsed by the representatives of the farmers on the public of the country, and the County and District Council’s which are overwhelmingly composed of farmers have passed resolutions supporting recruiting, and have formed recruiting committees to give effect to this. It is the cities, towns and villages, however, that have contributed the bulk of the recruits for the Irish battalions formed since the outbreak of the war. Now, however, it is clearly “up to” these County and District Councils who have passed resolutions and formed recruiting committees to give practical effect to Mr. Redmond’s policy, and we suggest that many of these might, furthermore, give a lead in the matter by their members of military age coming forward and offering their services as an example and an incentive to the young men in the electoral divisions they represent. The organization of a farmer’s battalion was mooted some time ago, but the idea seems to have been allowed to fall into abeyance, and we suggest that the time is now ripe for again reviving it, in conformity with the appeal made by Mr. Redmond. If those County and District Councils, who have passed resolutions in support of Mr. Redmond’s policy of keeping the gaps in the Irish regiments filled by Irish men, wish to be consistent (and there can be no question about their sincerity and the spirited feelings that moved them), they must now come forward and give a practical lead in seeing that Mr. Redmond’s appeal is properly responded to. There can be no hanging back or evasion, as otherwise they would only stultify themselves, and place Mr. Redmond in a position before the Government that would not enhance his influence and authority as the leader of the Irish people. One of the methods which Mr. Redmond proposes to adopt in following up this publication of his manifesto is to flood the different recruiting areas with suitable literature in the shape of pamphlets and leaflets setting forth the reasons and the necessity for Irishmen joining the army. The provincial press will also be asked to give as much of its space as it can reasonably afford to the publication recruiting matter, and while, no doubt, much may be done in this way in preparing the peasantry for the part they are expected to play; there are one or two other means by which Mr. Redmond might secure Irish men for the British army. It will be remembered that some time ago a revival of the national organization, the United Irish League, was advised by Mr. Redmond and his colleagues, so that the country might be in a state of organised efficiency in view of unexpected political contingencies, and to give effect to any policy propounded by the collective wisdom of Mr. Redmond and his colleagues. Following that advice, branches were revived and re-organised all over the country, and at the recent annual meeting of the national Directory, the Standing Committee reported that the League was in a healthy state of efficiency and activity, and several new branches had been organised during the year. Now, political strife being at the moment at a standstill, and a truce being observed by rival parties, the United Irish League if temporarily converted into an auxiliary organization for recruiting for the army would afford an excellent means of giving effect to Mr. Redmond’s appeal. There are hundreds of branches all over the country, the membership of which is largely made up of farmers, their sons, agricultural labourers, and workers on farms. It has already been suggested that the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which has a very large membership all over the country, might also be utilised in the same way for the formation of battalions recruited from the ranks of the Order. These two organizations afford an excellent means of reaching the young men of Ireland whom Mr. Redmond is so desirous of securing the service in the Irish regiments of the British army. There are just one or two circumstances connected with Mr. Redmond’s recruiting campaign which have given rise to some comment, but which, however, have not much importance for the man who places absolute confidence in Mr. Redmond. The first of these is that the burden of this campaign is being taken largely on the shoulders of Mr. Redmond himself, and that no particular enthusiasm is being displayed by any of his colleagues latterly in supporting him. This, however, does not affect the issues put before the Irish people by Mr. Redmond. Another circumstance is that it has been noted as a rather peculiar coincidence that Mr. Redmond’s manifesto anticipates a great confidence of the Irish in America called for the purpose of making a definite pronouncement on the attitude and course to be pursued by the United Irish Societies in relation to the war. Considerable importance attaches to this conference in the United States, but owing to the detached relations of these Societies with home organisations, the effect of their deliberations and conclusions cannot, it is presumed, appreciably affect the situation at home, and which the leader of the Irish Party seems to have so well in hand. At all events it is probable that Mr. Redmond is taking no risks as to the outcome of the American convention, or the possible effects of its conclusions on this side of the Atlantic, and that in issuing his manifesto he was anticipating what might prove to be a serious situation viewed with alarm by the Government.

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