6 JANUARY 1912, Page 12



WE are glad to have absolute warrant for stating that if the Government are mad enough to insist on passing as well as producing a Home Rule Bill the men of Ulster will demand that the measure shall not operate within their boundaries. This does not mean, of course, that they would give a moral or any consent to Home Rule even if the North-Eastern Counties were left out, or that a bad Bill can be made a good Bill by this alteration. It merely means that the Ulstermen are doing their best to avoid that supreme evil of civil war which must come if the Protestant counties of the North are forced against their will under a Dublin Parliament. To use our old metaphor once again. A bad and dangerous engine is not made a good engine by having a safety valve fitted to it, but at any rate the risks of an appalling explosion are appreciably diminished thereby. Those who ask that the safety valve should be fitted take no responsi- bility for the construction of the engine, but at least they do their best to minimize the harm it may do. It has been a difficult task for those who agree with us to get the loyalists of the North to see that it is their duty to make this demand. At first sight they were inclined to think that to make it would in some way or other be a deser- tion of the loyalists, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, in the South. Gradually, however, instructed opinion in Ulster has been changing on this point. The old plea that the Ulstermen could not in honour ask to be left out of the Bill is fast disappearing. Men see now that instead of such a demand being an act of selfishness it is in fact the best possible means of helping the minority in the South.

The proof of what we have just said is to be found in the long resolution which was unanimously passed at the annual meeting of the Unionist Club held in Belfast on Wednesday last. The motion was moved by the Right Hon. Thomas Sinclair, than whom Belfast has no worthier or more respected citizen, and seconded by Colonel Wallace. The resolution begins by expressing its confidence in Sir Edward Carson. It next repeats the solemn resolve of the Ulster Convention of 1892 " to repudiate the authority of an Irish Parliament should it ever be constituted." The resolution then proceeds as follows :— "We would remind the British electorate that Ulster's claim in the disastrous event of Home Rule being imposed upon Ireland is plain and intelligible. It is not a request for a distinctive -Ulster Parliament. It is simply a demand, made in the interests of our fellow Unionists in all parts of Ireland as well as of our own, that our Northern Province shall continuo to possess the exact constitutional privileges and rights which, in common with her British fellow-citizens, she enjoys to-day as an integral part of the United Kingdom, and that she shall continue to be repre- sented on equal terms with Great Britain in the Imperial Parlia- ment. Should this claim, based on the most elementary principles of British justice, be refused, the only alternative consistent with our rights as subjects of the King is the Ulster Provisional Govern- ment to come into operation on the appointed day, and this once established, we are determined to see it through."

This in essence exactly expresses the view we have always expressed—namely, that the loyalists of Ulster must in the last resort demand to be left out of the operation of the Home Rule Act. Such a demand is absolutely essential to making good the notice which the people of the North-Eastern Counties give to the people of Great Britain, namely, that if they are forced under a Dublin Parliament they will resist and form a Provisional Govern- ment of their own. That if a Home Rule Bill passes the North-Eastern Counties will do this we have not the slightest doubt. Those who imagine that the Ulstermen will quietly submit to Home Rule are living in a fool's paradise. The fact, however, that the Ulstermen have demanded to be left out of the Home Rule Bill will, if that demand is refused, make their resistance far more effective, and will multiply tenfold the sympathy felt for them in England and Scotland. Can any one seriously imagine that the Dublin Government will be allowed to use British soldiers to shoot down men whose only crime will be that they refuse to y taxes to a Dublin Parliament, or to obey a Dublin Executive, provided that the men who are making this refusal can say to England, " We warned you what would happen, and we implored you to leave us out of the operations of your disastrous and criminal measure lest civil war should be the result. You re- fused to listen to our plain warning and now you see the consequences of your negligence." If the demand that the North-Eastern Counties should be left out of the Bill were not made the British Government might very well say, and no doubt would say : " Why are the Ulster people making all this fuss now the Bill is passed ? If they meant to behave in this way they ought to have asked to be left out of the Bill while it was before Parliament. They made no such demand, although it was suggested that they should do so, but deliberately rejected any such pro- posal. It is now too late for them to protest." Un- doubtedly an argument of this kind would weigh greatly with the people of Great Britain. But when the Ulstermen, ask to be left out of the Bill, as they have now asked in unmistakable terms, such arguments could not be used.. Instead, after the first acts of resistance by North-Eastern Ireland had taken place, we are certain that what we should_ hear from England and Scotland would be something of this kind : " What business had you (the Government) to ignore the demand of the Ulster people ? They warned you what would happen if you did not leave them out of the Bill and you told us that it was all bluff and that they would never resist. We were fools enough to believe you for the moment, but you have proved utterly wrong. You deceived us when you told us that the Ulstermen did not mean business. We now see that we have done them a great wrong in refusing their demand, but we are not goinr, to add an even greater wrong by shooting them down. going must instantly amend or repeal your Home Rule Bill or in some way or other get rid of the horror of slaughtering the loyalists of the North because they will not be ruled by a Dublin Parliament, but insist on remaining part of the United Kingdom. The principles on which your Home Rule Bill is founded forbid you to perpetrate this.

crime." • Our only criticism of the way in which the Ulster people have put their demand is that it is a little too general. In a case of this kind a specific argument is. more effective. The demand is made for the " Northern. Province," but the province is hardly known to the law, and is not, indeed, much more than a geographical expression. This also always enables the Irish Nationalists and their Liberal supporters to quibble over the fact that there are more Roman Catholics in Ulster than there are Protestants. We know that drafters of general resolutions dislike detail, but in this particular case it would have been better, instead of using the word " Province," to have said that any Irish county which so desires " shall continue to possess the exact constitutional privileges and rights which, in common with her British fellow subjects, it enjoys to-day as an integral part of the United Kingdom," &c. The resolution might have added : " That the will of those counties shall be ascertained by a poll of the electors as to whether the provisions of the Home Rule Bill shall or shall not come into operation in their county." In this way we should avoid the sophistical nonsense which is sure to be employed. by Liberal writers and speakers in regard to the Ulster demand. They will tell the electors that the demand is bad because Ulster sends one more Nationalist. than it does loyalists to Parliament, and because the majority of the people of Ulster are Roman Catholics and Home Rulers. The fact, of course, is that if the Bill were voted on by counties, as we suggest, the chief counties of Ulster, including the great city of Belfast, would be certain to demand exclusion from the ruinous consequences of Home Rule. However, the matter is not one of vital importance. The fact remains that the people of the North-Eastern Counties of Ireland have put on record their determination to demand that, even if the disaster of Home Rule be imposed upon the rest of Ireland, they shall continue to remain an. integral part of the United Kingdom, and not be deprived of their heritage because of the triumph of a disruptionist conspiracy in the rest of Ireland.

We say without fear of contradiction that if, as we are sure they will, the Ulstermen persist in main- taining the position now assumed, and insist upon their demand coming before Parliament to be accepted or rejected, they will have killed Home Rule. If they make a specific demand that any Irish county may refuse to drink from the poisoned chalice, the Home Rule Bill will be dead. For such a demand they will get the support of the whole of the Unionist Party in the House of Commons and in Great Britain, and, even if Liberal votes are not affected in the House of Commons, they will certainly be affected by the hundred in every constituency. The Government will either have toyield on this point and allow the chief counties of Ulster to stand out, as they certainly would stand out if a poll were taken, or else incur an unpopularity in the country which will drive them from office. It will be said, and no doubt truly, that the Government cannot agree to the demand of the 'Ulstermen, for the very good reason that the concession would, in the first place, make the Bill utterly unacceptable to the Nationalists. They not only desire to domineer in Ulster, but, still more, feel that it is absolutely necessary to have the only rich and prosperous and commercially independent portion of Ireland open to their tax collectors. To put it in another way, the exclusion of those counties of Ulster which have a Protestant majority would destroy the finance of the Bill. The structure will be a crazy one even with North-East Ulster included. With that portion of Ireland left out, it must topple to instant ruin. The Government cannot accept the Ulster demand, and must, if it is made, either trample upon the Ulstermen and deny them rights which they (the Government) else- where declare belong to the local majority, or else drop their Bill. Which horn of the dilemma they will impale them- selves upon it is not for us to say positively, but that they must be impaled on one is clear. What they will probably do will be to reject the demand of the Ulstermen, and thus, as we have said, bring hundreds of recruits to the banner of the Union in every British constituency. The fact that they will most likely reject the demand of the Ulstermen is no reason why it should not be pressed, but very much the reverse. Even if it accomplishes nothing else it will prove the best possible way of making the British people understand the wickedness and folly of Home Rule. It will make them realize that the Home Rule Bill cannot be passed without a great act of injustice to one-third of the population of Ireland—a popula- tion, moreover, which in a large part of Ireland is not in a local minority, but possesses an overwhelming local majority. It will, in a word, teach the British people as nothing else will teach them that, instead of Homo Rule being an act of general beneficence, it is an act of strife and tyranny, Instead of putting an end to disaffection and discontent, it will create a disaffection and discontent far greater than any which exists to-day. We congratulate the Unionists of Ulster on their resolve to demand that if Home Rule takes place they shall be left to enjoy their birthright in the United Kingdom. By such action they are, we are convinced, best serving the interests of their fellow loyalists in the rest of Ireland.

They are playing, not a selfish part, but, like wise and prudent men, choosing the best and most effective way of striking a blow for Ireland as a whole.