June 7th, 1912

Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 01:00

FROM THE ARCHIVES:Politicians on both sides of the Home Rule debate rallied their supporters almost nightly as they awaited the next stage in the parliamentary process. This unionist rally in Cork was addressed by the former unionist MP for South Dublin, Captain Bryan Cooper, who later became an Independent and a Cumann na nGaedhael TD in Dáil Eireann. – JOE JOYCE

THE STRENGTH of Unionism in Cork was strikingly demonstrated tonight, when one of the most successful meetings of its kind was held in the Assembly Rooms.

The proceedings throughout were enthusiastic, and clearly showed that there is no weakening in Munster, on the part of Unionists, of hostility to Home Rule. [ . . . ][Captain Cooper said] they had been told every day that only Ulster was opposed to Home Rule and that Unionists in the rest of Ireland were prepared to acquiesce in it. (“Never”.) During the last year he had spoken in every part of Ireland, and everywhere he had found the spirit of opposition to Home Rule as strong and determined as ever it was, and he was glad to say that Cork was no exception to the rule; nor had there been anything in the bill that had been presented to them to allay that spirit of opposition.

(Hear, hear.) It was, indeed, a hopeless measure, designed, if possible, to pass, but absolutely incapable of being successfully worked. (Applause.) Safeguards had been introduced into the bill with the intention of allaying the opposition to it in Ireland. These safeguards were of an entirely worthless nature. The so-called Senate, as provided in the bill, was one of the most ludicrous bodies that the mind of man could possibly imagine.

(Applause.) It was to be nominated, not by those who were supposed to come under its protection, but, first of all, by Mr Asquith [Liberal prime minister], and in the second place by Mr Redmond and Mr Dillon [Nationalist leaders]. They knew how the Nationalist party had used the power of co-option possessed by the County Councils to exclude in almost every case Unionists from their administration. There were no limitations on the membership of the Senate, either of age, or of sex, or of nationality. All they knew about it was that Mr Asquith had told them that cardinals were eligible for membership. It had no oath of allegiance, so that nothing stood in the way of Mr Patrick Ford [Fenian publisher of Irish World in New York] joining it.

(Applause.) It was, in short, a burlesque legislature, only invented for the purpose of ensuring the continuance in political life of T W Russell [former Unionist MP turned Home Ruler], who, when Home Rule became law, would have to have recourse to a nominated Senate, since no constituency in Ireland would elect him. (Laughter.) Capt Cooper said that the Union must be worked in a spirit of making Ireland prosperous. He knew that it could be . . . and the time would come when the majority . . . would see the real merits of Unionist policy.