AN ATTEMPT TO RATIONALIZE THE DEMAND FOR DOMINION HOME RULE.
TET .us assume for the purposes of argument that j there is a real demand for Dominion Home Rule, that the British people have been converted to this solution., and that therefore we have to consent, though most unwillingly, to the abandonment of the policy of the Union. In fine, we will assume that the only function allowed us is that of saying how the principle of Dominion Home Rule can be applied to Ireland with the minimum of risk. In that case, and only in that case, for remember always we are Unionists and not Home Rulers, we will attempt to rationalize the policy of Home Rule. As a preliminary, however, we must insist that the principle of self-determination, if applied to Ireland, must be applied justly and reasonably, and not merely to one portion of Ireland and to only one body of Irishmen. Self-determination, if sauce for the Irish Roman Catholic Goose, must be sauce also for the Ulster Gander. This means, as we have said a hundred times, that the part of Ireland which wants Dominion Home Rule must have it, and that the part of Ireland which loathes Home Rule, and will resist to the utmost being driven out of the United Kingdom, must be allowed to do without it.
The next step of the Nationalists and the English Home Rulers is of course to say that we are giving no help to the solution of the problem by any statement of this kind, because, as we ought to know already, the majority of the Irish people will not accept partition in any shape or form* under any considerations, good or bad. To this we will only reply that if that is the case, then we have proved the necessity for the maintenance of the Union by a reductio ad absurdum. If you can only have Home Rule by partitioning Ireland—i.e., if you are pledged not to grant Home Rule without partition, and if partitioning is impossible—then you can only have Home Rule by not having it—which is absurd. No partition, no Home Rule— that is the long and the short of the matter.
It is not the least of the good results produced by the agitation in North-East Ulster that it has made this fact absolutely plain. You can only have Home Rule under conditions which the majority in Ireland, for reasons of their own, will not accept. Therefore the Union is a necessity, and will remain a necessity until one of two things happens. Either the Nationalists must abandon their declaration that they will never consent to the partition of Ireland, though they demand the partition of the United Kingdom, or the Protestants of North-East Ulster must abandon their claim to Exclusion and join with the rest of Ireland in asking for Dominion Home Rule, a demand which of course would then be voted to Ireland in twenty-four hours.
Those who wish to go into this matter s::11 further should look to the writings of Abraham Lincoln for the best possible statement of the essentials of the Ulster ease, both from the legal and Constitutional and from the moral point of view. The demand made by a certain area situated in the West part of Virginia for separation from the rest of the State was a demand in essence on all -lours with that of North-East Ulster. It was perhaps not constitutionally tenable in the narrow sense of the term, but it was just. Many of Mr. Lincoln's advisers wanted him to apply a pedantic legalism to blast the hopes of those who had stood by the Union in its hour of need ind had been loyal to the Government. Lincoln would iave nothing to say to such cold-blooded pedantry. Whether their claim was lawfully or unlawfully urged, he declared that the claim of the West Virginians must be allowed, and that their Area must be excluded when Virginia, after the war, was reconstituted as a State of the Union. Who could doubt that he was right ?* In this context a word may be said against a palpable fallacy which, dressed up in the language of rhetorical cocksureness, often does duty for argument amongst Home Rulers. The argument when addressed to Unionists like ourselves is on these lines : " You decry direct action when it is advocated or threatened by certain of the Labour organizations. Yet when recourse is had to it by Sir Edward Carson and his followers in North-East Ulster you defend it and support it. If it is wrong in the one case, it must be wrong in the other." The answer is • Those who wish to go deeper into the matter should look at a speech which tincoln made at the beginning of the war in answer to a deputation from West Virginia, and also at the Memorandum presented by the President to his Cabinet *very shortly before his death on the question of the exclusion of West Virginia irom the State of Virginia, a document quoted in Nicolay and Hay's Life of the President. easy. In the case of the Labour Extremists, they are attempting by threats to blackmail Parliament into a specific policy, and one which requires legislative and executive action. They desire to supersede the will of the majority as expressed in Parliament, by the will of Organized Labour. Their instrument of direct compulsion is the threat of a strike which will bring the country to starvation and economic ruin. What the Ulstermen say is something quite different. They say : " We were born into, and have inherited the right to be citizens of, the United Kingdom, and to be governed by the Parliament at Westminster. You cannot deprive us of this right without our own consent. We will obey, as we always have obeyed, laws made for us at Westminster. There are, however, certain fundamental rights of which men cannot be deprived even by Act of Parliament, however supreme are the powers of that Parliament."
We admit that the sacred right of resistance on the part of the citizen very rarely arises, but there are a certain strictly limited number of cases where it does arise, and this is one of them. The proposal not merely to expel an unwilling portion of the population from the purview of the Parliament which governs it, but to place that unwilling locality and population under the rule of those whom they regard as their bitterest enemies, is an exercise of absolutism beyond the right of any Parliament or representative authority. Mere expulsion is a cruel act, but might possibly be defended. But the transference of a welldefined homogeneous area to a Government which it abhors is an act of tyranny which may rightly be re sisted. Curiously enough, though there have been plenty of oppressive annexations as the result of war, we cannot find an example of a nation in the plenitude of its power expelling a loyal and contented province and handing it over to its enemies. Austria no doubt expelled Tirol from its Empire and placed it under a hated neighbour, but this was only done under the cruel compulsion of Napoleon. It was no voluntary act.
It will be thus seen that the argument, or rather to quoque, in regard to the blackmailing policy of the Labour organizations completely breaks down. To make that analogy good North-East Ulster would be saying to the Government at Westminster : " Unless you bring in legislation for curbing the power of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, for forbidding the formation of Sinn Fein societies and depriving them of the right to arm, and further refrain from letting out Sinn Fein leaders convicted of criminal acts, we shall have recourse to revolt." Then indeed we should have a strict analogy, and one which, though we might agree on the merits, would, we hope, be answered by the Government in a proper spirit. But the men of North-East Ulster never have made and never will make such an attempt to blackmail the Imperial Parliament at Westminster and the Imperial Government, even though, as in the cases we have mentioned, they may feel very strongly in regard to the want of wisdom and justice displayed in the policy pursued towards the disloyal portion of the Irish population.
But to return once more to the immediate danger—i.e., the Government's attempt at a lightning solution, which can do no good, and may even prejudice the possibility of some reasonable settlement at a later date. Surely from the Government's point of view what they ought to do is to wait till their Federal Committee has explored the situation as a whole, and seen whether it is possible or not possible to redefine Federalism—to turn it, that is, from a system of drawing together into a system of driving apart, to render it divorce rather than a marriage contract. If they do not, the lightning solution is only too likely to make a Federal solution for ever impossible. We admit that that is a fact which does not greatly trouble us, but it should surely trouble those who believe in Federalism for the United Kingdom. We prefer to be Englishmen rather than inhabitants of the Canton of Wessex.
Let us attempt to see what reason would dictate as the best form of Home Rule solution--assuming that some form of Home Rule should unhappily be decided on by the nation. Surely it must be something of this i kind. Parliament should pass an Enabling Act in which the following principles might be laid down in the preamble :- (1) That the policy of self-determination if adopted shall be equitably applied to Ireland.
(2) That for the purposes of such equitable application Ireland shall be divided into two sections (a) That part of Ireland in which the majority are in avour of the dissolution of the Legislative Union—i.e., the Twenty-sixCounty Area of the South and West.
(b) That part of Ireland in which the majority are in favour of the maintenance of the Union—i.e., the Six-County Area of the North-East.
(3) That in case either of the areas thus described should demand a system of Dominion Home Rule, which system would involve the abolition of representation in the British Parliament, such system of Dominion Home Rule should be granted according to the scheme set forth in the Schedule annexed, &c... &c.
(4) That either area might apply for complete incorporation with the Kingdom of England—i.e., to become a county or counties of the said Kingdom.
Once more, let it be remembered that this is not a solution which we like or think right or advisable, but at any rate we are giving 'a form to the views assumed to be inspiring the Governinent which reduces their• injustice, and does not make them lead straight to civil war. From our point of view, our proposal is no doubt a reductio ad absurdum, and so a proof that we must maintain the Union. For those who think otherwise it is at all events a proposal which fits the facts, and will not cause a wholly jiistifiable resistance in North-East Ulster—a resistance which, strange as it may sound in some ears, we believe the people of England and Bcotland would refuse to drown in blood.