Canadian Opinion on the Crisis that has Arisen

August 15 1920


Canadian Opinion on the Crisis that has Arisen

August 15 1920


Canadian Opinion on the Crisis that has Arisen

THE days that have fallen on Ireland are dark indeed, and the darker, because there is no hint of possible compromise to point to a better future. Sinn Fein and Ulsterite seem to have given rein to a gospel of hate that is a sad promise for the future.

Such is the prevailing opinion of the Canadian press on the attitude and happenings in the “distressful isle.” Out of a multitude of comments there are few that suggest any concrete remedies. There are some that counsel a strong hand, and a policy of repression. There are others that foresee such a policy as almost inevitable and are truly sorry. There are still others who argue that such a policy, like others .that have been tried, will surely fail. There is needed, they claim, a new spirit of toleration and understanding, and only a settlement based on such an ideal can last. But while they argue they are ready to admit that there is no indication of this changed spirit and little promise of it dawning.

The Canadian press is practically a unit in its condemnation of the policy of rapine and murder, that has soiled the Sinn Fein propaganda, and has made the solution so much the harder.

“It is a tragedy,” says the Toronto Globe, “that the moderate opinion of Ireland is almost inarticulate, because moderation is punished both in the North and the South.”

The whole emphasis on both sides, it points out, is laid on force, from the murderous work of the Sinn Fein to the intemperate language of Sir Edward Carson. All this hate and disunion, it urges, is a heritage of the past, not a product of the present. It sees the only ray of hope in the moderate men in the South and West of Ireland. If Sir Edward Carson would forget his role of firebrand and set himself to rally this element all might yet be well. “There would be a chance of rallying a large body of their fellow-countrymen against the Sinn Fein folly and menace if the Ulster leaders would show a spirit of reasonable-


And again:

“The cure for Ireland’s ills is to be found, not in a war of creeds, but in the exercise of the right of self-government by men of all creeds and political parties.”

The Hamilton Spectator voices a sterner gospel. “Euphemistic phrases,” it says, “will not restore peace. The revolt must be suppressed and the men responsible for jeopardizing life and property punished.”

“The time demands that every Briton resident in Ireland and out should line up against the disorderly element now rampant in the country and assist the constituted authorities to stem the tide of revolt.”

The St. John. N.B., Standard, is of somewhat the same opinion.

“Londonderry,” it says, “recently illustrated on a small

scale what would happen throughout the whole of Ulster if a single Parliament were set up in Dublin to govern all Ireland.”

And after outlining the black list of crimes that have besmirched the Sinn Fein standard, it finds therein a justification for Ulster.

“The Ulster Loyalists note these outrages, and they are a fighting people. It is the Government’s duty, not theirs, to maintain the law and protect the citizens; but when feelings reach the boiling point, as they have done in Londonderry, there is civil war and bloodshed.”

The Hamilton Herald quotes with some measure of approval the brutally plain words of Sir Edward Carson.

“There are only two courses open,” said Carson—“either surrender to the Irish republic or organization of forces to insure that the Government is not beaten.”

"Doubtless,” it continues, “the new measures that are in a measure couched in the spirit of Sir Edward Carson’s words will bring more sorrow to Ireland.” But it goes on: “The sooner the storm breaks, the sooner it will be over. When it has passed, may its passing mean the establishment of permanent peace for poor Ireland and of amicable relations with the sister isle!”

The London Advertiser too is for a repressive measure, directed against the disturbers to meet the Irish situation.

“The Home Rule Bill,” it says,” is all right so far as it goes. But evidently it must go farther if it is to bring peace at last to the distressful isle. Let the Irelands be given a just and generous measure of dominion self-government, let the assassins at the same time be repressed, even by armored cars if necessary, and let the North and South have real inducements to bury the old hatchet and unite; Ireland should then be in the way of a golden age again.” The St. John, N.B., Times and Star views the Irish situation in anything but an optimistic light.

“It is easy to say: ‘Give Ireland what she wants,’ but what one part of Ireland wants the other does not, and until some basis of compromise between the extremists can be reached there will be no permanent peace.”

And it goes on to point out the difficulties in the way of meeting existing conditions. It sees a situation that has been allowed to get out of hand.

“The home rule that would have been satisfactory to the great majority of the Irish people in John Redmond’s time would now arouse no enthusiasm. Matters are rapidly nearing a crisis of grave proportions.”

“It is questionable if Ireland’s condition and Ireland’s outlook was ever as serious as it is at the present hour,” say the Winnipeg Tribune. It has no solution to offer, but it sees very clearly the difficulties and dangers of the present days.

“If the channel of St. George which divides Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom were only a hundred miles wider Britain could afford to separate peacefully and allow the Irish pepple to fight out their own problems in their own way. But the proximity of the island to England readers such a solution hazardous.” In any event in its opinion such a policy “would be harsh and cruel to an ultra-loyal population.”

It lays its finger too on one of the gravest dangers when it says :

“The attitude of a certain portion of the United States population coupled with the often unthinking conduct of people who prattle about freedom and liberty adds additional complication to an already over-complicated


“The Irish question cannot be settled by either the Carsonites or the Sinn Feiners acting independently. If there is to be a settlement it must be one that will be acceptable to reasonable men,” says the Woodstock Sentinel-Review, and it continues:

“No doubt the Government could have crushed the Sinn Fein revolt by military force; but, perhaps it has realized that the Irish question is not to be settled by bayonets and machine-guns. The problems of governing Ireland in a civilized way would still remain even if the Sinn Feiners were all smothered in their owm blood.”

And again it says:—

“If Ireland cannot be conquered—permanently conquered—by force, much less can it be governed by force.” The Montreal Gazette sees in the rioting in Belfast and Londonderry no new thing. Nor does it find in these things any particular significance—similar occurrences, it points out, had followed the unveiling of O’Connell's monument. But what it does see is the ever-widening breach, each incident of which makes it harder to find some common level of understanding.

“The end will come,” it says, with a certain solemnity of tone, “as usual. Superior military and moral force will prevail and the disturbers will go back to their work. The ill-feeling created or aggravated, though largely local, will make more difficult the task of giving Ireland a Government that can administer justice and maintain peace, a task for which ministers in London seem to lack the essentials of a united mind and a clear policy.”

That the solution might be found in giving Ireland something in the nature of the Government we enjoy, but bereft of certain of our privileges, is the suggestion of the Saskatoon Star.

Through all the comment runs this same strain. Not that the situation is unsolvable, but that it is unsolvable while it is considered in bitterness and hate by the two parties to the question. It is necessary that there should be some common ground, before Ireland’s future is decided.