IRELAND AND GANDHI

 

Sir, - I am writing a book on the links between India and Ireland. During my research, I came across the following extracts of quotations of Mahatma Gandhi, where he compared the Irish and Indian freedom struggles. While the comments were voiced by Gandhi during the early part of this century, some of them probably have relevance today. Members of Sinn Fein/IRA would do well to consider Gandhi's remarks carefully, especially at this critical point in the history of their movement.

"Lord Reading has flung Ireland in our faces. Let us contemplate for a moment that romantic nation. I would like the reader to, believe with me that it is not the blood that the Irishmen have taken which has given them what appears to be their liberty. But it is the gallons of blood they have willingly given themselves. It is not the fear of losing more lives that has compelled a reluctant offer from England, but it is the shame of any further imposition of agony upon a people that loves its liberty above everything else. It is the magnitude of the Irish sacrifice which has been the deciding factor . . . And England has yielded when she is able no longer to bear the sight of blood pouring out of thousands of Irish arteries" - Collected Works of Gandhi, 15/ 12/1 921 (Volume XXII, p 17).

"Ireland gained absolutely nothing through the policy of harassment and obstruction and remember, it had an able leader like Parnell to fight for it. In despair, it has now taken to the method of violence. This also, I believe, is a mistake. I have cited the instance of Ireland only to show that obstruction leads nowhere" - Collected Works of Gandhi, 18/7/1920 (Volume XVII, p. 56).

"The Sinn Feiners resort to violence in every shape and form. Theirs is a frightfulness not unlike General Dyer's (General Dyer, himself of Irish origins but serving in the British army, was involved in an infamous massacre of innocent Indian civilians at Jallianwala Bagh on Amritsar in 1919). We may pardon it if we choose, because we sympathise with their cause. But it does not on that account differ from General Dyer's act . . . We must therefore seek to guard English life as our own. We must constitute ourselves as self appointed volunteers guarding English life from violent hands. And our success depends upon our ability to control all the violent and fanatical forces in our midst" - Collected Works of Gandhi, 1/9/1920 (Volume XVIII, 219-220). - Yours, etc.,

Consultant neuropsychologist,

University of Southampton,

Department of Psychology.