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The Clare Journal

Monday Evening May 1 1916 - Part 2





The following was communicated to the Press on Friday evening by the military authorities:- Headquarters, Queenstown,
4 p.m., April 28.
The situation generally in the South of Ireland Command is good.
Reports received to-day from the Garrison of Galway, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Tralee, Limerick, Clonmel and other stations in the South of Ireland state that these towns are now, and have been up to the present, perfectly quiet.
Reinforcements from England have arrived. In the South Irish Command adequate precautions have been taken to deal with any disturbance that may arise.
National Volunteers at Cork, Tipperary, and other places have offered their service to assist in the preservation of order. This offer has been accepted by the General Officer commanding. Martial law has been proclaimed for all Ireland. It is hoped that the public will assist by implicitly obeying any orders given by the military or Constabulary authorities, as otherwise it may be necessary to issue drastic regulations affecting the public generally.





In the House of Lords, Viscount Midleton asked his Majesty’s Government whether they could give any information as to the steps which had been taken to repress the disorders in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland. In putting this question he thought it due to their lordships to make a statement, so far as he could, on the position which had caused those disturbances to arise, and with a view to pressing the Government to take more adequate steps to prevent the spread of those disorders to other parts of the country (hear hear.) A statement was read to them that the position in Dublin was well in hand. What did that mean? The previous day, about 12 o’clock, some of the most important places in Dublin were occupied by the Sinn Fein organisation. Several offices and other persons were shot. So far as his information went, when the statement was made at 4 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon, not only were the rebels in possession of a variety of most important places in Dublin, but no attempt had been made to dislodge them. Could that be held to be a situation well in hand? It appeared to him to be a situation well in hand on the part of the rebels (laughter and “hear, hear,”) because the government had not been sufficiently provided with troups to deal with the insurrection. But that was not the only important point. Telegraphic communication had been almost entirely interrupted. The rebels, he understood, seized the Post Office, cut the wires, and, unless he was misinformed, also cut the cable to this country, so that a good deal of the news of what had passed had come by wireless.


They were assured that the situation was excellent and that no further trouble had arisen in other parts of the country. What they should like to be assured of was that, as this particular movement in Dublin came upon his Majesty's Government as a bolt from the blue, they had provided themselves with sufficient forces in other parts of the country to prevent the spread of this disorder or others arising from the same source, organised bodies of Sinn Feiners whom the government had ignored in other places as in Dublin during the past few months. He desired to distinguish in this matter between his Majesty's Government and the Irish Government. Members of the Cabinet had been so deeply engrossed with the very grave issues connected with the war that it was possible that a good deal of what he was going to say would not come before the whole Cabinet, but would be dealt with by the Irish Government. He meant more especially the member of the Irish Government who sat in the Cabinet, the Chief Secretary, because obviously the Lord Lieutenant, who he had no doubt, was doing all he could to deal with the present emergency, had not the authority of the Chief Secretary, who was the Chief Executive Officer of the Crown in Ireland.
Why had this business come upon the Government as a bolt from the blue? He spoke with some knowledge, and he did not think the Government would be able to deny a single one of the facts he was going to state. In the first place the Irish Government had been perfectly aware that not in Dublin alone large bodies of Sinn Feiners had existed, perfectly armed, perfectly equipped, and constantly drilling for some months past. Secondly, they had possessed explosives in considerable quantities. Thirdly, that they were well provided with money, the origin of which was known to the Irish Government. Beyond this, the avowed purpose of the Sinn Feiners were set forth, week after week, by a variety of newspapers published in Dublin and elsewhere, which the Irish Government had allowed to continue without making any but the most feeble efforts to suppress. The heads of this organisation were well known to the Irish Government, and, except in two cases, the Irish Government decided that they would not deal with them.


Their lordships were tongue-tied by the war in regard to bringing forward matters in public which ordinarily would, naturally and properly be brought before Parliament; but he asked them accept his statement that every one of these points had been brought, not once, but constantly, and up to the most recent date, by the most influential persons possible to the notice of the Irish Government, with the urgent request that they should take the authority of Parliament to deal with them, if they had not sufficient authority already. Nothing had been left undone by interview or memoranda, or the giving of evidence to induce the Irish Government to act. Yet the Irish Government allowed parades of the Sinn Feiners to continue Sunday after Sunday, they allowed those papers to circulate, they allowed posters of the most seditious character, especially directed against recruiting, to be put up broadcast throughout Ireland. As recently as last Sunday all these matters were brought before the Irish Government with an intimation that if they did not deal with them quickly the opportunity might come too late. He had seen officers who, not a week ago, had been warned by the police that they would have to keep their men in barracks because they might be needed in Dublin for a sudden emergency. Did that wake up the Irish Government? Not the least. All the officers desiring it were allowed to go on leave. The Chief Secretary himself remained in London. The Commander of the Forces in Ireland was allowed to cross to England last Friday night. The Lord Lieutenant was to have proceeded to Belfast on Thursday, but for other reasons he had to put off his visit till Monday, and fortunately, he was still in Dublin. He was informed, but was not certain that the Head of the Royal Irish Constabulary also came to England on Friday. He knew, because he saw it himself, a large number of officers – in fact a paralysing number of officers – were allowed to attend races in the neighbourhood of Dublin and Cork on Monday, and were absent still in large numbers. Others were seized in their attempts to get there. He could not conceive any Government, having all those warning, being so blind as to allow such a state of things arise and to be paralysed by the absence of all its heads when such difficulties were seen to be ahead.


One man, whatever he might have to say afterwards, was bound now to be at his post, and that was the Chief Secretary (hear, hear). He hoped the Government would assure them that if the Chief Secretary had not returned to Ireland already he would return without delay (hear, hear). Grave decisions had to be taken in Dublin already, such as to the proclamation of the Sinn Fein conspiracy. It was not fair to subordinates , nor was it fair to the country, where the Civil Chief was responsible, even if the country were placed under martial law, to leave the military authorities alone responsible for those measures as to which the civilian head must necessarily be consulted. He knew that some members of the Government were at that moment beleaguered and unable to act; but if the Lord Lieutenant was able to act and full authority given to him, he should feel perfect confidence that his Excellency would do all that an Englishman could do in the circumstances. But how could they give a man full authority who was not himself responsible? It was the Chief Executive Officer representing the Crown who ought to return to this post from which he had been so long absent (hear, hear).


Continuing, Lord Midleton said:-
The other point to which I wish to refer is the position outside Dublin. It is no answer to say that this has arisen in Dublin, and that we have sent sufficient troops to deal with it. What we want to prevent is the spread of this trouble to other parts of the country. The Government are perfectly aware that divisions of the Sinn Fein organisation, just as well armed and equipped, furnished with machine guns, and in all respects, except that of actual drill, able to take the field, exist in other places besides Dublin. The Government cannot be too prompt in sending sufficient forces there to make their proclamation good and effective by disarming and arresting the leaders of this organisation, and I ask the Government not to wait until the trouble has spread to make those exertions, which I have no doubt they will make as they find that the necessity has arisen.
I venture to ask this, not with any desire to make any capital out of the unfortunate events that have arisen, but because I feel that the present position in Ireland is one of the utmost danger, if not promptly grappled with. The inaction of the Government during the last few weeks had been a serious discouragement to the loyal population and an almost complete bar to successful recruiting (cheers). Leniency towards those who have broken the law in this conspicuous manner and been guilty of these treasonable practices, and of murder and other outrages, could only be misinterpreted in Ireland. Up to this moment the Government have been sheltering under their desire not to drive into extreme courses men who might otherwise be won over, and not to divide the country at a critical time. They decided not to deal with the Sinn Fein conspiracy; the Sinn Fein conspiracy has now dealt with them. I, therefore, hope that the Government, without the slightest fear that they will be accused of panic, will take effective measures for the vindication of the law (hear, hear).




The Marquis of Lansdowne said – I certainly make no complaint for my noble friend having described the present situation in Ireland as one of considerable danger if it is not grappled with. I believe that this outbreak will prove to be a futile outbreak and I believe it to be predestined to failure and to ignominious failure. But I am not on that account at all disposed to minimise the serious inconvenience which is likely to obtain in the necessity of dealing vigorously with it.
The principal facts are, I think, generally known. On the 24th the rebels made a half hearted attack upon Dublin Castle, which was not pressed thorough. They occupied Stephen’s Green, they held up troops on their way from the barracks and fired on them from windows of houses on the route. The City Hall Post Office, the Four Courts, Westland Row station, and, I think Broadstone station were occupied by Sinn Feiners, and telegraphic communication was at first completely interrupted.


The force now available in Dublin is composed as follows – There is, of course, the original body of constabulary, and the normal garrison of Dublin and to these have been added reinforcement, the first of which came from the Curragh on the 24th. Further reinforcements came from England, and Belfast, which have now arrived in Dublin.
My noble friend, I think, said that no attempt, as far as he was aware, was made to dislodge the rebel force from the places that it has occupied. That is not quite the case. The Sinn Feiners were driven out of St. Stephen’s Green, and driven out with a certain number of casualties (cheers.) They were yesterday morning reported to be still in occupation of the buildings I named just now, and of houses in Stephen’s Green and Sackville Street and Abbey Street and along the quays. By the beginning of yesterday the military had succeeded in protecting the line from the King’s Bridge station via Trinity College, to the customs House and the North Wall. Later in the evening of yesterday the Lord Lieutenant announced the proclamation of martial law in the city and county of Dublin. He was able to report at the same time that the provinces generally were tranquil.
To-day’s telegrams have been coming in with some rapidity. We learned at midday that the building known as Liberty Hall which is the headquarters of the Citizen Army, with which the name of Mr. Larkin is connected, has been wholly or partially destroyed and occupied by the military. It was then reported that there were only three minor cases of disturbances in the provinces. By 2 o’clock the Lord Lieutenant was able to report that the situation was on the whole satisfactory and that the provincial news is reassuring. The Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary contributes one item of intelligence which I think will be satisfactory to your lordships. It is that at Drogheda the National Volunteers turned out in arms to assist the government, while many local persons offered assistance (hear, hear).
The latest information is to the effect that telegraphic communication, though not fully restored, is still possible. Since I entered the House I have received a further instalment of information to this effect – The General Officer Commanding reports that there is now a complete cordon of troops around the centre of the town, on the north side of the river, and that two more battalions were arriving this afternoon from England. There has been a small rising at Ardee, in the County Louth, and a rather more serious one at Swords and Lusk, close to Dublin.


Your lordships may wish some information as to the number of casualties during these occurrences. The last report which I have received shows a total of fifteen soldiers killed and twenty one wounded, besides two loyal volunteer and two policemen killed, and six loyal volunteers wounded. My noble friend is anxious that I should justify the statement that appears in the published telegrams to the effect that the situation is well in hand. The expression seems to me, on the whole, to describe the facts with fair accuracy. I do not see in these telegrams any sign of doubt as to the ability of the Government to cope with this movement and to put it down by the most drastic methods. My noble friend would like to be assured that steps are being taken to prevent the spread of the movement in places in the provinces (hear, hear). I have mentioned already two telegrams which go to show that the situation in the provinces is – I will not say wholly satisfactory – but on the whole such as not to justify grave apprehension. I may tell my noble friend that the Irish Government fully recognise the necessity of making sure of the situation, not only in Dublin, but in other parts of Ireland, and particularly in one or two spots which my noble friend may have in his mind, and where special vigilance is called for.



My noble friend did not ask me for any information as to the landing that took place on the west coast, and therefore I will not trouble the House with any statement on that matter. (The House intimated that it would be glad to hear a statement.) If it would be of interest to the House (cheers), this is what I am able to tell. – A German submarine and a German vessel, the latter with false papers, and disguised as a Dutch trading vessels, made their appearance three days ago off the west coast of Ireland. From a submarine there landed in a collapsible boat three individuals of whom two were made prisoners, one of them being Sir Roger Casement, a gentleman whose name is familiar to my noble friend and myself in connection with very different kinds of questions. The German ship was stopped by one of his Majesty’s ships and ordered to accompany that ship into Queenstown. I believe the weather was very rough, and it was difficult to put a prize crew on board. The disguised vessel followed his Majesty’s ship a certain distance but at a particular moment – I do not know where exactly, she suddenly flew the German flag and sunk herself – scuttled herself, I should imagine. The crew were saved.
I do not know what Sir Roger Casement may have been led to expect in the way of assistance in facilities on shore for this landing, but I have not been able to ascertain that there are any traces of extensive preparations having been made on the seaboard either for the reception of Sir Roger Casement or of the distribution of the material with which the sunken ship was presumably laden.


My noble friend concluded his speech by calling attention to the fact that within his knowledge repeated warnings had been addressed to the Irish Government as to not only the possibility but the probability of an outbreak of this kind. I have made inquiries into this matter, and I am really not able to conjecture what is the precise foundation on which my noble friend’s charge is made. It is a matter of notoriety that for some time past the activity of the Sinn Fein party has been notable, and has occasioned serious misgiving to many people and to that extent, it is, no doubt, quite true that the Irish Government was aware that there was the possibility or probability of trouble, but I have not been able to hear of anything like a specific or authoritative warning of such a development as that which we have witnessed within the last three days. The only specific warning which we did receive came to us from an external source on the very day of the outbreak.
Viscount Midleton – My case was that the Government had been repeatedly warned by most influential persons that if they did not take action against the Sinn Fein organisation there would be serious trouble, and very shortly. The warnings were in the most unmistakeable terms. Yet last Sunday morning they allowed a whole battalion of Sinn Feiners to parade and go through a number of exercise armed with side-arms, the officers carrying revolvers, while last Sunday week the same people were occupied in practising street fighting in Dublin without any interference.
The Marquees of Lansdowne – If the facts are as my noble lord has stated, I am not going to stand up to contradict him, but what I wished to convey was that there was nothing like a specific warning that this particular trouble was to be expected. The only other point raised was with regard to the movements of the chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary had been lately in London, where, of course, the Cabinet has had important matters to consider but he will leave London tonight for Dublin and will be in Dublin tomorrow morning.


Lord Beresford – the statement of the noble Marquees is extraordinary. He said there was not specific warning of the outbreak of the Sinn Feiners. He knows perfectly well that Ireland has been smothered in disloyal literature for months, declaring that they were going to get rid of the English. I consider that that was specific warning enough to the Government, yet the Government have allowed these disloyal people to arm and parade and drill. It was well known to the police and to the military authorities, and must therefore have been known to Dublin Castle. In these circumstances I cannot understand the statement that no warning of any sort or kind was given to the Irish Government as to what these rebels might do.
The Marquees of Lansdowne – I never suggested that there was no material at all from which to conjecture as to what might happen in Ireland might have been formed. There were facts which were matters of common knowledge, and the Government viewed the proceedings of this organisation with great concern. In that sense we were forewarned. I was dealing with a different point – namely, that we might have expected this outbreak at the particular moment.
Viscount Peel – Can the noble Marquess state, or has he been able to form any estimate of the strength of the rebel army in Dublin!
The Marquees of Lansdowne – I am afraid I have no information on that point.
Viscount Peel – I am informed that very influential people gave specific warning to the Government in Dublin during the last month or two. Did the government take any action at all to forestall this outbreak or did they allow things to go on exactly as before without giving a single order to any military force or any executive authority whatever?


There were indicators of a spread of the movement in some other parts of Ireland, especially in the week.
Such was the statement by Mr Asquith on Friday in the House of Commons, when he said that news in Ireland showed that the situation still had serious features , and announced that martial law [had] been proclaimed over the whole of Ireland.
Other outstanding points of his statement were - …. …….. ………. in Dublin. There was still fighting in the streets. Sir John Maxwell had been given plenary powers under martial law over the whole country while martial law prevailed. Troops had ….. and were being strongly reinforced, said Mr. Asquith, and the Government were …. That the force despatched was adequate to deal with the situation.
Mr. Asquith, in his statement, said that the Cabinet decided that the Irish Executive must at once proclaim martial law over the whole of Ireland. A military censor was necessary but he would be directed to show all possible latitude in the …. of news. It was the duty of the government to restore order and stamp out the rebellion with all possible vigour and ... And that they were …………. the obligation which … upon the Government to ……..investigation into the causes of the outbreak and those responsible for them. That obligation the Government fully recognised, and were prepared to discharge. He said it had been made absolutely clear that the present rebel movement had no sympathy from anyone in authority in Ireland.
Sir E. Carson hoped the Government would consider the grave fears of many people in England owing to there being no telegraphic communication with Ireland.
Mr Asquith replied that it was hoped that telegraphic communication would be resumed that day or today. He would undertake that all the information available would be published with …….. as it is received.
Sir E Carson said he was satisfied with the statement of the Prime Minister, and would gladly join with Mr. Redmond in sentencing and putting down these rebels now and for ever more. He hoped no section of newspapers would try …. a war of such a character as we were….. bring about a discussion of a political ….. in relation to the Irish question (cheers).
Mr Redmond, on behalf of himself and his colleagues, gave expression to the over-whelming feeling of disdain and horror with which they regarded these proceedings, and he joined with Sir E Carson in the expression of opinion which he had just made (cheers).


The following proclamation has been issued by the Mayor of Limerick:- Mayor’s Office, Town Hall, Limerick, 28th April, ’16. With all the force and power which my words can command, I, as Mayor of my native city, earnestly appeal to my fellow citizens, of every class, in the present most …. condition of affairs which has arisen in Limerick and all over Ireland, not to do anything that may result in exposing the lives and property of the people to damage or destruction. I know that in making this appeal I can confidently rely on the good sense of the citizens, and upon the law-abiding character of our ancient and historic city being worthily maintained in this time of stress and difficulty, and I hope when it has passed over, as we all hope it soon will, we shall be able to rejoice together that we came through the crisis with the reputation of our city for sacrifice and forbearance sustained intact. Stephen B. Quin, Mayor of Limerick.

(From the “Sketch”)

I fancy people will want to know why our “intelligence department” was taken by surprise by the Irish revolt. Taking only facts publicly reported, it has been known for some time that the Sinn Feiners were becoming more and more impudent; we heard of machine guns, armed sentries, modern rifles – and they were allowed to go on until the Easter climax. Ireland needs strong government – the great mass of patriotic Irishmen will not deny that, any more than they will deny that Mr Birrell hardly stands for strength.


A queer lot, the “Sinn Feiners.” They were harmless enough as long as they confined themselves to their artistic, literary, and Gaelic language fads, but when they embarked on politics the result was a crazy political outlook, as crazy as if the maddest Post Impressionists, Cubists and Futurists suddenly took into their strange heads to embark on “practical” politics.


They have Sinn Feiners in Scotland, too, - the Scottish Gaels who produce their organ “Guith na Bliatha” (the voice of the year) from Blair’s College, Aberdeen. But they wisely leave politics alone. “In Scotland,” said a Gaelic-speaking Highland doctor to me yesterday, “we look upon the Sinn Feiners as harmless cranks. A Sinn Fein politician is a fit and proper subject for the alienist only.”


The friends of Home Rule are sad, very sad, for they see Home Rule receding farther and farther from view. Some think an Irish Parliament in College Green has disappeared for ever.

The 1916 Rising in the Clare Newspapers