EIRE ASSERTS ITS "RIGHTS TO BE NEUTRAL"
Claiming it provides England with a region of security gained by no other means
From Our Own Correspondent DUBLIN.
The Prime Minister's allusions to the Irish ports in his last statement in Parliament naturally excited interest and concern. Under the title, " Dangerous Talk," the ex-Unionist Irish Times discussed the matter next morning, saying: "We deprecate the loose talk concerning Ireland which occasionally creeps into the proceedings of the British Parliament."
Mr. Churchill " committed no breach of propriety " in expressing regret that the Irish ports could not be used in the British war-effort, but Mr. LeesSmith's assertion that Germany " now had ports .. . on the west of Ireland" was indefensible. [Mr. Lees-Smith did not say that.—Editor C.H.1 "The
British Parliament," the Irish Times continued, " has a reputation for fair ness, and this sort of talk does no credit to it. Concerning the issues at stake in the European war, the opinions of Irishmen differ, and, under a democratic regime, are at liberty to differ: but the people have endorsed their Government's policy, and are prepared to abide by it. Two years ago Mr. de Valera gave an assurance that the territory of the State would not be used by any Power as a base for attack upon any other. We are satisfied that the promise has been kept. We are satisfied that all this talk about the refuelling of belligerent submarines from depots on the Irish coast is so much moonshine.
" Since the establishment of the Local Security Force, lreland has been better policed than at any previous time in her history ; and this new force—the eyes and ears of the Army, in Mr. de Valera's phrase—is consecrated to one cause, and to one cause only—the defence of Irish neutrality.
SNUB TO REV. DR. LITTLE
" In justice to the British Government, we think that it pays little attention to the whirling words of parliamentary backbenchers. A fortnight ago Lord Snell administered a snub to the Rev. Dr. Little, Unionist member for Co. Down, who had alleged that German submarines were being supplied from the territory of the twentysix counties. The British Government, said Lord Snell, had no evidence that there was any truth in these allegations. In view of this recent statement from an official source in Great Btitain, and of, our own Government's professed policy, members of Parliament would be well advised to avoid random accusations which are bound to do more harm than good.
" Great Britain of her own free will, returned the Treaty ports ' into Irish custody. It' the exigencies of war have given her any cause to regret that action, any of her citizens are at liberty to say so. It is quite another thing to prefer mischievous and unsubstantiated charges against a nation and Government which have made their attitude clear beyond doubt."
This commentary in the chief organ of opinion strongly on Britain's side, shows how Ireland as a whole feels in a difficult issue. A spokesman of Nationalist opinion, to whom I submitted the matter said:
NEUTRAL DENIED HIS RIGHT
" We are neutral. Thal is our right. To claim the use of our ports would be as high-handed as to claim the use of. say, the ports of Spain. It is what Italy did to Greece and is Justly condemned for doing—denying the neutral the right to keep out of the conflict.
"If the fabled island of Hy-Breasail or Atlantis were found in the ocean, yet another few miles west of England's ports. would she be right to claim the use of its ports? Her frontier must stop somewhere. She cannot claim other people's lands and bring them into her contested shores, without repudiating her claim to he fighting aggression and defending the rights of Poland, the Netherlands and Greece to freedom.
" That does not mean " (this spokesman went on) " that we wish ill to England. Our neutrality is not hostile. We would like to help the English people in their ordeal in any way that a neutral and non-belligerent could in reality, our neutrality is a benefit to Britain, because, supported as it is by the entire national manhood in arms, it is the greatest possible security against this island being turned into a field of battle.
" Surely it is plain that if we entered the war and so invited an invasion from the Continent, England would be immediately embarrassed by dangers on her western flank. Her enemies, if we drew them to our shores, and if they got a footing, could use it to strike in turn at her. This never will happen while we are neutral, with all our manpower united and passionately determined to resist invasion to the last. One might say that our neutrality provides England with a large region of security that she could gain by no other means."
INVASION THREAT AVERTED
This, I think, is a pretty just statement. 'Last week-end, Mr. James Dillon, representing the Parliamentary Party's tradition, spoke of the blessings that had come from the national unity. built on neutrality. He said that a definite threat of invasion had been averted, a few months ago, by the national uprise and general arming. With the utmost solemnity, he warned the nation that disueion would bring back that threat. Protestant bishops and Methodist spokesmen are among others, certainly not of anti-British feelings, who have expressed in the last week their people's thankfulness for the policy of neutrality, and for the new national unity that is at once its fruit and its guarantee.