Celebrating democracy


A chara, – Your editorial “Celebrating democracy” (December 10th) rightly recognises the 1918 election and first Dáil as momentous milestones in Irish democratisation.

However, it states: “what differentiated Sinn Féin from the nationalist movements that preceded it was the party’s pledge not to take seats in Westminster but instead to establish an Irish parliament at home.”

At a rally in Dublin city centre marking the introduction of the 1912 Home Rule Bill some four years earlier, Tom Kettle, one of the last “young Ireland” Irish Party MPs, described his vision of the independent Ireland to come. “From the very first day upon which this [Irish] Parliament is established”, he said, “it will ... grow by its own inherent vitality; and looking into the future, I see it ... worked intelligently for the benefit of all. I see minorities respected, I see every subordinate class coming to its own after national freedom has been attained.” – Yours, etc,


Established Professor

of Political Science

and Sociology,

NUI Galway.

Sir, – Congratulations on the “Vote 100” supplement (December 10th).

There is, however, much more to celebrate about the 1918 general election than the extension of the franchise to women – welcome though that was.

Most significantly, the election gave the Irish revolution of 1916-21 a democratic character – as distinct from being just a violent uprising. This meant that the independent Irish State that emerged from the revolution had a firm constitutional underpinning, which enabled us to preserve our democracy intact when most of Europe was succumbing to totalitarianism and also when our democratic institutions came under threat from militant republicanism at various times from the Civil War to the present day. That too is worth celebrating. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.