TOPICS OF THE DAY.
"HOW TO WIN ULSTER.
ONE of the great delusions connected with the Irish question, perhaps the greatest of them all, is that Unionists like ourselves do not really want to settle the Irish question, but cynically prefer to keep things as they ire. Do not want to settle the Irish question ! Good Heavens ! Is there any sane person breathing to-day who takes up such a position ? We would give anything that Honour and Justice will let us give to settle the Irish question. All we ask is that it shall be a real settle- that Honour and Justice will let us give to settle the Irish question. All we ask is that it shall be a real settle- ment, and not a worse unsettlement than that which we have got now. It is true that we have no use for a settle- ment which must bring more unrest, and unrest with a real basis, more grievances, and again with better cause--a settlethent which will substitute the fierce hard hatred of the men of the North and of friends betrayed for the histrionic hatred and romantic national prejudices of the Celt. A true settlement we should accept with gratitude inexpressible.
- We admit that in writing this we are using what may seem to be the language of exaggeration. Yet we are not. A whitlow produces as much agitation in the body and as strong a desire to get rid of it as some far more deadly disturbance. As reasoning beings, we have to admit that if we have to continue the status quo in Ireland without any amelioration, none of the awful things prophesied will happen. We shall only be worried beyond words. But we, like the rest of the nation, are tired of being worried, and at this moment above all others would like to still the shrill, nerve-racking voice of the angry Celt. Besides, though it is nothing but idle and baseless complaint which assails us from across the Channel, it discredits us with our kinsmen in America.
Ignorant of the true conditions, they sententiously, though perhaps not unnaturally, declare that we can't be holding the baby in the right way or it wouldn't be crying in that distressing manner.
Once more then let us ask—Is the finding of a solution a possibility? As all men now, from Mr. Lloyd George downwards, are discovering, what blocks a solution is the existence of the two Irelands. People find themselves, when beginning to talk about nationalities, confronted by the hard fact that Ireland is not a nation but two nations, and that therefore the principle of Self-Determination can provide no solution except through a partition of Ireland and the granting of separation to those parts of Ireland which demand it, and again a closer union with Britain to those parts which desire that solution. But the Nationalists and Sinn Feiners, those who are calling loudest for self- determination for themselves, tell us that in no circum- stances will they grant . self-determination to the Pro- testant North. They will not accept partition on any terms. Here then is -the impasse. The Nationalists ask for something which we cannot give them unless we violate the principle upon which their demand is based. Is there any way . out ? Clearly the suggested coercion, which Mr. de Valera talks about plainly, which Mr. Devlin hints at with a kind of genial rhetoric, and which the Irish Hierarchy more darkly foreshadows, is an impossible solution. Equally absurd is the somewhat acrid admonition of worthy. Liberals here, who tell us that Ulster ought to know better than to be so recalcitrant. We find, indeed, keen Nonconformists and advocates of a very active passive resistance on ouch matters as education scolding Ulster very roundly for showing much the same spirit as they themselves have shown, only that Ulster has tea times stronger reason and is acting not upon a punctilio but upon real fears. Clearly we must veto both these plans. for overcoming Ulster's refusal of the demand that the Sinn Feiners shall rule over a physically undivided if morally disunited Ireland.
There is, however, we believe, a way out. We indicate it in no spirit of paradox or to place our opponents in the wrong, but with perfect sincerity, even if we have to admit with no very great hopes. Our remedy is simple, easy, and perfectly practical ; but, alas ! experience of political affairs shows that such a remedy is often just the kind upon which no one will rely. The plain man in politics, as in medicine, dearly likes the prescribing of sensational drugs. The remedy we suggest is that the Irish Home Rulers should make it their business to win over Ulster. We are certain that they can do so if they are sincere in their endeavour, and above all if they will take the time and trouble to prove themselves sincere. How are they to win Ulster ? "By deeds rather than by words" must be their motto. The first step is, we admit, a difficult one for the present Home Rulers to take, but it is of such vast importance that it will cover half the ground. They must begin by acknowledging in the fullest and freest terms the right of self-determination in that homogeneous area of North- East Ulster ',Which has come to be known as the Six-County Area. The Nationalists must say to the Ulstermen in terms the sincerity of which cannot be doubted that they do not want this area in which the local majority is So strongly Protestant and non-Celtic to come into their national system until the majority of the people in the said area are genuinely anxious to be co-partners with the South and West. "Not only will we not force you, birt we do not want you except as the most willing of willing guests at our freemen's feast." If that were said, and said with sincerity, it would make many instantaneous converts to Home Rule in Ulster, and would Prove the seed-ground out of which many more would grow. It would not, we admit, win Ulster at once, but it would put the rest of Ireland in the way, of winning her. The next step must be the abandonment by the Nationalists of expressions of hatred towards England, and of the desire to create mischief between us and our American kinsmen. Next roust come, and this is perhaps most important of all, not merely the abandonment of such -horrible acts of cruelty and murder as have taken place recently in Ireland (we mean the shooting of Magistrates and police- men under conditions which can only be described as treacherous, bloodthirsty, and cowardly), but also the exem- plary punishment of those who attempt to commit them, and a complete change of attitude on the part of the civil population towards their perpetrators. Next, the Nationalist Government when established in the South and West must give proof that they are anxious to set the people genuinely at work, and not to live upon sentimental grievances plus doles from those whom they denounce as the authors of their wrongs. Ulster has never looked to Governme it for help, but has been the architect of her own good fortune, and she very naturally dreads greatly- the interference of ignorant officials with her splendid industries. Nothing could more reassure her, and therefore do more to win her, than if she saw a Nationalist Goventment showing a sound and liberal policy as regards trade and commerce.
We have kept the most important of all the methods by which Ulster can be won till the last. It is by a complete change of attitude on the part of the Irish Hierarchy towards Protestantism and those who practise it in Ireland. The Ulstermen will not be satisfied, and feel that they ought not to be satisfied, with the bare assurance that there will be. no laws made under which the Protestants will be placed at a disadvantage. Such an assurance leaves them cold. . They want an assurance that the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland will not interfere in the work of govern- ment, will not insist that all the chief offices shall be given to Roman Catholics, and that Protestants shall have not only no influence on policy but no hand in the work of the Executive. It is idle to tell the Protestants of Ulster that they need have no fears in this matter, and that the Nationalist civilians will show plenty of spirit in resisting ecclesiastical authority. The Ulstermen will want some- thing more than verbal guarantees on this point. They cannot forget the action taken during the war, not to go any further back, by the Roman Hierarchy. Take for example this very question of partition. The Ulster leaders in the Convention consented to make the supreme sacrifice when Mr. Redmond agreed to partition. They did not want to break up the Union, but they made no attempt to use their power to veto Home Rule for the South and West. For some hours it looked as if we were really going to have a solution of the Irish question on equitable terms. And then, like a thunderbolt from an angry sky, fell the veto of the Roman Catholic Bishops. They killed the Redmond scheme, and many of his friends still say they sent Mr. Redniond to his grave with a - broken heart. To win Ulster the Nationalists must give 3onie proof that under separation from the United -King- dom they are not going to allow the Bishops to take action of that kind.
Take again the case of Compulsory Service. It is all very well to say that the National Church was forced into opposing Compulsory Service by the strong feeling in the country. That, we venture to say, is not the fact. No doubt Compulsory Service was unpopular, but the Roman Bishops took the line they did, not for fear they should quarrel with their flocks, but because they were pro-German in feeling, and because as loyal servants of the Vatican they did not wish Germany and Austria to be beaten. The enforcement of Compulsory Service on the Irish in Ireland as Abraham Lincoln enforced it upon the Irish in the Northern States would, we are sure, not only have been practicable, but would have made a new Ireland. But the Roman Hierarchy did not want that new Ireland, for it would have been a much less priest-ridden Ireland than that which now exists. Once more, then, we desire to point out that there is nothing more essential for the winning of Ulster than the giving of proof that in the Ireland of the future the Roman church will not claim the right of political veto, end above all things will not insist that the keys of knowledge shall rest in her hands alone. For remember, and this point should be specially noted by Nonconformists, one of the chief matters in which the Ulstermen dread Roman Catholic interference is education. Even now the Ulstermen find the Hierarchy in effect, though of course not in form, forbidding them to establish in the Protestant city of Belfast a system of elementary education _which would prevent thousands of children growing up as they are now growing up, ignorant of the vei y elements of education.
We might prolong the list of the ways in which Ulster might be won, but we have said enough to show the main lines of advance. If the Nationalist leaders have any statesmanship left in them, and if they really want a solution, surely they will think it worth while to win Ulster. From their point of view, they will Only be assent- ing to a temporary partition, because if they believe in their own case at all, they must believe in their power to show that their object is peaceful penetration and not oppression and plunder. 4 In what we have said above we have written from the heart, and with an intense desire to find a positive solution other than the mere maintenance of the status quo or that harsher solution which we set forth the other day— forcible partition. But what are we to say if some cynical Unionist, or, if you will, realist Unionist, says to us : " Your proposal for winning Ulster may be sound enough per se, but it is purely Utopian, or at any rate deals with an Ireland which does not now exist. You appeal to the Nationalists. You might as well appeal to the inverte- brates of Ireland, for one is hardly rarer than the other. The people to whom you must appeal to win over the Ulster- men are not the Nationalists but the Sinn Feiners : Mr. de Valera, Mme. M.arkiewicz, and Mr. Griffith. They will laugh your proposition to scorn. They do not want to win North-East Ulster. They have a shorter way with her than that, the way of Bolshevism in all lands, the way of the men who when they talk of solution mean force and bloodshed, the men whose universal remedy is to kill." Our answer to so pessimistic a criticism will be : " You can but try." It may be that there is no one who will listen to our plea, or at any rate be in a position to carry it out. Anyway, there are certain men who still arrogate to themselves the title of Nationalist leaders, and who believe that Ireland will very soon abandon Sinn Fein and look to them for guidance. We mean of course the group headed by Sir Horace Plunkett, the chieftain whom we gather the Times regards as able and willing to carry out its proposals for Dominion Home Rule. If they have some weight and authority with their fellow-countrymen, which we would fain believe they have, why should not they take up the task of winning Ulster, and tell their followers luiw through a system of partition they mean to produce a stronger and more united Ireland th,s- been hitherto seen in the history of the world I