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LEINSTER LEADER EDITORIAL 27 MAY 1916

NAAS, SATURDAY, MAY 27, 1916.

THE SHOWING UP OF DUBLIN CASTLE

The inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the insurrection has developed into a showing up of Dublin Castle. As far as the evidence forthcoming at the Inquiry is concerned it has not thrown any additional light on the rebellion. No dark secrets have been unearthed. The facts related were already well-known to the public through the Press. We were all aware that the authorities, although they had their suspicions, were taken by surprise, we were conversant with the fact that the insurrection was, within its limitations, carried out with daring, skill, a bravery that was wasted, and that from the outset it was doomed to failure. The public had not, however, been aware that on Easter Sunday at a conference held at the Viceregal Lodge it was decided to arrest the leaders of the Irish Volunteers, deport them and make an attack on Liberty Hall and another Volunteer arsenal known to authorities. This decision only awaited the sanction of Mr. Birrell who was of course in London attending to his business as jackdaw in the Cabinet. Before he had time to turn the thing over in his profound mind the revolt had broken out. It is quite possible that in the meantime the rebels had learned something of what had transpired at the Viceregal Lodge conference and decided in an hour of fatal excitement, to risk all and lose all in their mad enterprise. Before Mr. Birrell had, in his capacity of jackdaw, time to cry to the Cabinet, “Ireland! Ireland!” the barricades were up in Dublin. As Lord Wimborne put it in his letter to Mr. Birrell, “the worst had happened.” Outside of this circumstance the evidence so far forthcoming at the insurrection Inquiry has been merely a rehash of what the world already knew. But if the Inquiry has failed to reveal any sensational secret history it has, on the other hand, unconsciously and almost instinctively, shown up Dublin Castle in a merciless light. To the people of Ireland, indeed, the institution known familiarly as Dublin Castle required no showing up. We were only too painfully aware of its character, constitution and ugly history. We had given it up as a thing beyond salvation long ago. The evidence of its hopelessness was written plainly all over the face of the land. In the backwardness of the country in almost every phase of human progress we had the signs and the seal of a rotten and a hopeless attempt at Government. Nothing that could be brought forward in evidence against the institution could be worse than what we already knew of Dublin Castle. But it is certainly important that even now those who had been defending the system and declaring it is a sacred institution have had their eyes opened. They see Dublin Castle as it is and as it has always been and as it must continue to be until it is swept out of existence, stock, lock and barrel. It stands today convicted out of the mouths of three men who stood at the head of its official existence: the Lord Lieutenant, the Chief Secretary, and the Under-Secretary. Sir Matthew Nathan, who was, like all Under-Secretaries who ever came to Ireland, alleged to be a marvel of administrative genius, cut a pathetic figure of at the Inquiry. He proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that he knew nothing of his job. He could not reply to the most elementary questions on the subject of his duties. He could not even say for certain what the distance was between Dublin Castle and the Viceregal Lodge. He talked of the police forces of Ireland as if he were dealing with remote and half visionary bodies; they might as well, for all the grip Sir Matthew Nathan had of their functions and composition have been the ancient Fianna of Ireland doing great things in the days of Finn MacCool. Sir Mathew Nathan, to put it gently, has not came out of the Inquiry with any credit to himself and we imagine that his own will rather disown him, for the Hebrew people are proud and jealous of their good names as a business people. Mr. Birrell was, of course, able to serve up his evidence in better style; he read for the Commissioners a very nice paper on the insurrection and was not so staggered by events in Dublin as not to be able to put together a few telling and characteristic phrases. He was for instance, able to say that he was “always nervous as to what was passing in the minds and the cellars of Dublin.” He was, he said, an astounded witness of “the genuine poetic and dramatic revival” in Ireland. In fact he looked to the courage and sometimes “the savage satire” of the Abbey Theatre playwrights to drive thoughts of rebellion out of the minds of young Irishmen. One cannot help smiling at phrases like these dropped from the lips of a man of letters but a hopeless failure as a Chief Secretary for Ireland. If some courageous Irish playwright requires a subject for future savage satire there is temptation in the picturesque figure of Mr. Birrell polishing his little phrases about the Irish rebellion amid the smoking ruins of Dublin. As a Statesman his breakdown is so complete, his good intentions and his jokes so well meant, that we don’t believe anybody in Ireland desires to prod him unnecessarily; the most charitable thing the Inquiry Commissioners can do is to gently and quietly cart his memory and his failure away from the public gaze. Lord Wimborne comes out of the Inquiry with less personal damage than either Sir Matthew Nathan or Mr. Birrell. But his position as Lord Lieutenant is even more hopeless than theirs; he had practically no place in the grand scheme under which Ireland has been run on the rocks. He was a voice crying in the wilderness. We do not wonder that even the English Unionist papers are now in full cry after Dublin Castle and calling out for its abolition. We do not know how far the emotion of the hour may carry them or how far the strong tide of public opinion may push the Government. But we can hope that it will help to end a system which in the sight of all peoples stands condemned as the most crazy attempt as Government which the world has ever known.

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