From Irish Political Review: March 2006

Garret Fitzgerald's Pack Of Misbegotten Lies

Among those Irish persons generally held to be qualified to stand among the Great and the Good of the Free World few are Greater and none is as Good as that Man of High Wisdom, Garrett Fitzgerald.

For truly Garrett Fitzgerald is Great. And Good. And Wise.

Out of the Great Good Heart of His Wisdom Garrett gave the plain people of Ireland a Constitutional Crusade to establish the basic truths of liberal democracy within the land. In consequence of which the constitutional ban on divorce was upheld for a further ten years. And an amendment which he first proposed, and then opposed in the half-hearted way so characteristic of The Wise, was voted into that Constitution to protect the lives so to speak of the not yet born.

Whereupon this Wise Man who of a time had lectured the children of Ireland at their University on the sciences of Money put all his science into Great Wagers on the International Markets and bankrupted himself. But, so Great and Good was Garrett, that the Banks of Ireland reprieved His Indebtedness. Which is surely the full measure of such Wisdom. And then some.

So now Garrett the Great and Good shares with the plain people of Ireland such of his inexhaustible Wisdom as he can be brought to part with for a shilling or two to keep the wolf from the door. Sometimes from atop a Column of the Irish Times. Sometimes addressing others of the Great and Good and Wise at gatherings of the same. Also on the web.

The website of Fine Gael's Collins 22 Society (at <>) is currently hosting the text of a Garrett the Great and Good address that was delivered in April 2003 at University College Cork. And it's an odd thing really. A haggard, paltry tattered old thing it is and difficult to believe as having come from the nimble brain of that Wise Man, his Good Self. But his name is on it and surely Fine Gael would never lie to us about such as that.

The address is entitled "Reflections On The Foundation Of The Irish State", though it is concerned with a period some years after the foundation of the state. There is also a subtitle: "Cumann na nGaedheal – Government And Party". And between the title and the subtitle there are logical gaps and temporal distortions. Really the state in question is a state of fugue (the pathological condition in which acts are no sooner performed than immediately lost to mind, not the musical form).

Our Good Wise Man puts it like this:

"…I shall concentrate mainly on three aspects of this subject:

"First, our state found its origins in what might be described as an anti-colonial war fought within part of a well-established but culturally diverse parliamentary democratic system. Perhaps because of this, the State's founders included some very different kinds of people. In the first part of my remarks, therefore, I shall try to disentangle the tensions that divided the leadership of the first government during its early years, about which until quite recently we have known very little.

"These tensions and divisions led the leadership to a grave crisis within two years of the foundation of the state, but the intense patriotism and commitment to the common good of these leaders, and their sublimation of personal ambition, led them ultimately to overcome these tensions, with the result that our state was built on foundations that proved capable of surviving many severe tests in the remaining decades of the twentieth century.

"Second, I shall discuss the Cumann na nGaedheal Party and the separate, but in certain respects similar, set of tensions that existed between it and the Government it was established to support. An understanding of this is necessary in order to explain why the circumstances of that party's origins condemned it, and its successor party, Fine Gael, to a less successful political role than Fianna Fail for much of the 20th century.

"Third, I shall briefly remind you of some of the achievements of that first government…

"Let me start at the beginning. At the end of the Treaty Debate in early January 1922 de Valera resigned as President of the Dáil Cabinet and Arthur Griffith was elected in his place by the Second Dáil, which comprised the Sinn Fein majority of those who had been elected in June 1921 to the Southern Parliament established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 (1).

"Five days later the Southern Parliament itself (comprising the pro-Treaty Southern Ireland Dáil members and the Dublin University members) met and elected a parallel Provisional Government under Michael Collins's chairmanship, as provided by the Treaty. Thenceforward, until 6th December 1922, these two Governments ran in parallel."

Garret the Good takes it, for no clear reason, no reason at all that he can be bothered to declare, that the Irish state was founded either by the 'Treaty' of December 1921, or by the vote of the Second Dáil in January 1922 which accepted the terms of the 'Treaty' or by the elections of June 1922 which gave a majority in the Third Dáil to supporters of the 'Treaty' or by the British Act of Parliament which brought the Parliament of Southern Ireland into existence in December 1922. He doesn't say which of those was the foundation event but clearly he believes that one or other or a combination of several or all of them was the decisive moment. The "grave crisis within two years of the foundation of the state" is later declared to have been the Army Mutiny of March 1924 so our Good Man certainly takes the state to have been founded at some time between December 1921 and December 1922.

Now then, where to start? How to grapple with all that Wisdom, all that garbled gobbledegook?

Let's take his note (1) which is supposed to elucidate the exceptionally wise remark that "the Second Dail…comprised the Sinn Fein majority of those who had been elected in June 1921 to the Southern Parliament established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920". This is that note (1):

{(1) It should perhaps be explained that five Sinn Fein leaders elected to the Northern Ireland House of Commons—Collins, Griffith, de Valera, McNeill, and Sean Milroy—had also been elected to the Southern Parliament. The sixth, John O'Mahony, was admitted to the Second Dáil, but apparently did not attend.}

The underlining and other typographical devices employed there are all His Wisdom's own work, or the work of his webwise minions.

Apparently! Apparently John O'Mahony did not attend the Second Dáil into which he was somehow 'admitted'. Apparently!

First of all, John O'Mahony was elected to Dáil Éireann in 1921 for the constituency of Fermanagh/Tyrone, just as Collins was elected for the constituency of Armagh. He was no more 'admitted' to the Dáil than Collins was. They were both elected to it.

Our Good Man's note is supposedly drawing out the implications of his formulation that "the Second Dáil… comprised the Sinn Féin majority of those who had been elected in June 1921 to the Southern Parliament established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920". But the Southern Parliament established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 did not exist. The Second Dáil was composed of all those who were successful in the elections held throughout Ireland in June 1921 who responded favourably to the invitation to attend.

Speaking in Dáil Éireann in July 1951 in support of a motion to afford Northern representatives a right of audience in that assembly, the Blacksmith of Ballinalee, General Seán MacEoin (of Cumann na nGaedhael and Fine Gael, twice a candidate for the Presidency) recalled the terms under which the War Dáils sat (he was referring specifically to the First but every word stands as well for the Second Dáil):

"I throw my mind back to the First Dáil. The Clerk of the House at that time called the roll at every Dáil meeting. He called Sir Edward Carson and Michael Collins. He called Sir James Craig and Alfie Byrne. He called John Redmond and everyone else. The fact that we were all called to an Irish Parliament left no doubt as to what the then Dáil was seeking to govern. All the elected representatives of the Irish people were being called to take their place in the sovereign Parliament of the nation."

So there's the rub. The Second Dáil, like the First, was the sovereign Parliament of the nation, legitimised by the vote of a body politic that was inclusive of the nation. Our Wise Man can't be having that. Clearly for Garrett the Good the first legitimate parliament of the Irish state (of which he was once Taoiseach) was the first parliament legitimised by the 'Treaty' the British imposed under the threat of 'immediate and terrible war'. The first Irish parliament he can feel comfortable with is the gerrymandered one in which Northern voters were disenfranchised, from which Northern representatives were excluded. And so he evolves a formulation allowing if not quite carrying, the ludicrous implication that the Second Dáil which acquiesced in the 'Treaty' was really the "Southern Parliament established under the Government of Ireland Act 1920" (why would the British have waged Black and Tan war on such a thing? Great Man do tell).

This is why John O'Mahony's status, the status of the one Northern representative of the six Northern representatives who didn't have a second, Southern, seat to fall back into when acquiescence in the 'Treaty' mutilated the Irish body politic, has to be muddied and tangled. And then sneered at.

The sneer is outrageous. "John O'Mahony, was admitted to the Second Dáil, but apparently did not attend".

There is no 'apparently' and no doubt about the matter at all. Of course John O'Mahony attended the Second Dáil. Of course he represented Fermanagh/Tyrone in the sovereign parliament of the Irish nation. That is what the voters elected him to do, so of course that is what he did.

More than that, rather than there being any question about his status as a member of Dáil Éireann representing the electors of the Northern constituency of Fermanagh/Tyrone, that unquestioned status was raised in the Treaty Debates as a core issue in resolving the nature of Dáil Éireann itself. It was raised as eradicating any semblance of right for a mutilated assembly in the throes of a gerrymander to unilaterally dismiss and disband and then to arbitrarily reform the electorate which had legitimised it in the first place. (The Dáil which debated submitting to English threats by acquiescing in the imposition of the terms of the 'Treaty' was mutilated by four of the six Northern TDs, Collins, Griffith, MacNeill and Milroy, abandoning their Northern electors and treating the Irish body politic as effectively gerrymandered.)

On December 21st Mary MacSwiney made the constitutional position crystal clear to as many as would listen:

"…Mr. Lloyd George has said in his letter to Mr. Arthur Griffith: {We propose to begin by withdrawing the military and auxiliary forces of the Crown in Southern Ireland when the articles of agreement are ratified." Therefore they will be kept in "Northern Ireland" if Britain so wills. And take that statement "when the articles of agreement are ratified" in connection with Article 18 of the Treaty: "This instrument shall be submitted forthwith by his Majesty's Government for the approval of Parliament"—not ratification you will notice —"by the Irish signatories to a meeting summoned for the purpose of the Members elected to sit in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, and, if approved, shall be ratified by the necessary legislation." Therefore this assembly is not, as has been already pointed out, competent to deal with the matter at all. We are not the Members elected to sit in the Parliament of Southern Ireland. We are the Members elected to sit in the assembly of the Irish Republic.

"MR. MILROY: Under a British Act of Parliament.

"MISS MACSWINEY: Yes, under a British Act of Parliament, for until our Government was functioning we had no machinery to act otherwise. The Deputy who has spoken knows perfectly well, as well as every intelligent man listening to me knows, that if we had refused to use that Act of Parliament against the enemy himself, what would have happened was that all the Southern Unionists, gombeen men and other good-for-nothing, soulless, characterless men would have gone up for that Southern Irish Parliament and legalised partition. Moreover, in this assembly there sits at least one Member who holds a seat for Northern Ireland and has no seat in Southern Ireland at all, and, therefore, this assembly is not legally entitled, even by that instrument, to approve or disapprove of this agreement."

Now then, here is John O'Mahony attending the Second Dáil, addressing it on January 4th., 1922:

"We may find ourselves in a minority as Pearse and his comrades were in a minority in Easter Week; but like them we will have the satisfaction of feeling that we have saved the soul and body of the nation from those who would wittingly or unwittingly kill it, for the purpose of bringing ease and comfort to the material body. We can face the future with hope, nay with confidence, because we have with us the two elements amongst our people with whom the national future lies. We have the women with us, and no cause that is backed by the national womanhood of the country can ever fail, just as no cause that lacks their support can end in anything but disaster and disgrace. We have the youth with us, too—the youth of the Irish Republican Army—human beings endowed by God with the power of deciding what was right and what was wrong; not mere goods and chattels to be carried off and used as their absolute property by our anticipated Free State majority. For opportunism, for supineness, for contemptibleness, the daily Press of Ireland is unique in the journalism of the world. However, the young men of the army I am proud to say, have proved themselves too straight, too true, too unselfish in their love and loyalty to the Republic to be decoyed from the path of honour, of righteousness and of duty, to be deceived into breaking their soldier oaths by such transparent political expediency on the part of a majority of their Headquarters Staff. We have the young men of the army with us, we have the womanhood of the nation with us, and with these two elements on its side the ultimate triumph of the Republic is assured; because, as Terence MacSwiney said:

""Those who walk in old ruts and live in trembling may bend the knee and sign their rights away; but one wronged man defrauded of his heritage can refuse to seal the compact, and with one how many, thank God, will be found to stand, for the spirit of our youth to-day is not for compromise.""

At the beginning of his speech O'Mahony made it clear that he was under great pressure from his local Sinn Féin Party (which had taken the Big Lie of the Boundary Commission from Griffith and Collins and expected to be shortly delivered like some great overdue lump of an immaculate conception into the Free State) to vote in favour of acquiescing in the 'Treaty'. Throughout his speech he was heckled repeatedly by Griffith, Milroy and O'Higgins. In the event he abstained in the vote on Griffith's motion that the 'Treaty' be acquiesced in. He paid his constituents more heed than Collins, Griffith, Milroy and MacNeill did theirs.

A few days later, after Griffith's motion had been carried (on January 7th), Mary MacSwiney subjected the remains of the sovereign parliament of the nation to a brief but devastating analysis. This is herself speaking to Griffith's election to replace de Valera as President on January 9th:

"Every representative in Ireland—even in the North-East Corner—is a member of Dáil Eireann, and if he only comes in and sits here we will welcome him if he takes the Oath of Allegiance. Moreover, every member in Ireland cannot sit in Mr. Griffith's parliament, or at the meeting of members summoned for constituencies of Southern Ireland. Before Mr. Griffith can use this Assembly in order to set up his Provisional Government he has to exclude Mr. Seán O'Mahony, and Mr. Seán O'Mahony is the test in this case, because he is the only member who sits for a constituency in what is called Northern Ireland, and has no seat in Southern Ireland, so-called. Further, and I ask you young men of this assembly who mean the Republic but who are voting for its subversion, to think carefully over this—if you elect Mr. Griffith without first getting a declaration from him, given to us solemnly here and to the Irish nation, that he will not combine the Executive power of Dáil Eireann with his office as Chairman of the Delegation to summon the meeting for Southern Ireland—I ask you to do that—that Mr. Griffith if he dares to use this Assembly, or the sixty-four members of it that support him, because he cannot use us, will first exclude Mr. Seán O'Mahony. Nothing would please Mr. Lloyd George better than that you, by your vote here to-day, should elect Mr. Griffith as Executive of this Assembly and then let Mr. Griffith, as Executive of this Assembly, summon this meeting to set up a Provisional Government, because then he would be able to say that Dáil Eireann sanctioned the setting up of the Provisional Government. Dáil Eireann has not done that."

On this occasion Griffith was forced to back down, saying:

"I will summon this body to constitute the Provisional Government as Chairman of the Delegation, not as head of Dáil Eireann."

And eighty-one years later Garrett Fitzgerald set himself to turn the tables, claiming that the Second Dáil which was established by a British Act of Parliament admitted as an act of grace and favour one Northern member who never bothered attending. Such a Good, Great Man. So Wise. Such a pack of misbegotten lies.

Go To Secure Sales Area

Articles And Editorials From Athol Books Magazines ATHOL BOOKS HOMEPAGE
Free Downloads Of Athol Books Magazines Aubane Historical Society
Free Downloads Of Athol Books Pamphlets, etc The Heresiarch
Archive Of Articles From Church & State Archive Of Editorials From Church & State
Archive Of Articles From Irish Political Review Archive Of Editorials From Irish Political Review
Athol Books Secure Online Sales Belfast Historical & Educational Society