June 14th, 1912

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES:Sir Edward Carson and John Redmond entered the fray on the second day of the House of Commons debate on the amendment to exclude four Ulster counties from a Home Rule parliament.

CARSON: Mr. [Duncan] Pirie, the [Liberal] member for East Aberdeen, said that if the Unionist members for Ireland would accept this amendment as a settlement – as a compromise of this question – then he would vote for them. I beg him not to give his vote under a misapprehension. We do not accept this amendment as a compromise on the bill. There is no compromise possible. We believe that Home Rule will be disastrous for the rest of Ireland. Why should we abandon our great object, which is to obtain what is merely simple justice, when you propose to change the whole position of Ireland?

I have never approached any subject in the whole course of my political life which has given me more trouble than the question raised by the amendment, and I certainly have not undertaken the duties I am endeavouring to discharge in relation to this Home Rule Bill out of any personal motives. I do so simply because I believe that the question which has arisen between the two countries is one which I believe to be of vital moment.

The first question every man ought to ask in approaching the consideration of this question is – “What do you really believe about the attitude of Ulster? Do you really believe that Ulster is in earnest in her opposition, or do you think they regard it as a merely political matter?” It is not a political matter to them. They look upon it as a matter which affects their lives and liberties, their employment, and everything that goes to make up what men hold dear in life. I believe they are right in doing that.

Redmond: We have put our claim for Home Rule as a national demand. That is its essence. We claim that Ireland is a nation-made up, no doubt, by the intermixing of many races-a nation whose rights and liberties have often been invaded. [...] When two or more races were intermixed there were three possibilities. One was that one race should hold the reins of power, as when the black and white races lived together; another was that the country should be governed from without, and that generally meant an ascendancy class – which was exactly what happened in this case; and the third was that the two races should live together in mutual toleration. That was the plan that ought to be tried in Ireland. That is our ambition.

This idea of two nations in Ireland is to us revolting and hateful. It is unthinkable. We want the union in Ireland of all creeds and races, and we would resist most violently, if need be, the setting up of a permanent dividing line between one creed and another, and between one race and another. Men may say that the dream of a union, complete and lasting, between all races and creeds in Ireland will never be a reality. That, however, is our hope, ambition and belief.

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