From Our Own Correspondent
Very strong feeling has been roused by what amounts to a declaration of war on Irish national ideals. People mostly think that the British Government has taken its non possumus attitude towards national Ireland for reasons rising from the new relations with Italy. The war peril has become less imminent, so that the desire to conciliate Ireland has waned.
A quiet judgment makes one feel that English statesmanship has blundered. Probably, Mr. Chamberlain is led by his advisers to believe that to defeat Mr. de Valera in London will hurt him in Ireland.
Nothing could be more false to Irish nature. Our people are rallying to Mr. de Valera as they have not done for a long space. Henceforward, it may be added, Irish demands will harden.
I am certain that Mr. de Valera is the most moderate, the most conciliatory Irish leader with whom Britain ever will have
to deal, and his moderation is limited by what the people will endorse. The feeling now rising may constrain him to measures that he has chosen.
Cut Off Ireland from Britain
He will be asked, perhaps, to repeal the Act of Association, which many of his own party dislike strongly, and so renew the stand of the nation as a Republic without any British relations.
It English readers do not understand this movement of the national feeling, let it he explained that the Act of Association of December, 1936, which is continued under the new Constitution, was adopted simply and solely on the ground that it 'met The objections of Britain and its Northern agents to Irish unity.
Southern Protestant Comment
The advocates of Partition said : "If the Six Counties come into the Irish State, they go into a Republic severed from the British Commonwealth." In reply. Mr. de Valera's Government said : " We will meet your objection by associating the State with the Common we h." This was done, but unity still is refused, so it has been done for nothing. The logical conclusion from this is evident. Like it or dislike it, there it is. Thus has the position worsened; feeling has been embittered, and the gleam of hope which peacemakers saw in the skies over these islands has faded. We are back to the darkness of the age-old quarrel, and gird ourselves for what must come.
Sympathetic Colours Many readers may think that my remarks are coloured by my sympathies, Maybe so, but let them note what the Irish Times, the organ of the Southern Protestants and ex-Unionists, speaking for sober Protestant and pro-British opinion throughout Ireland, says of the blocking of Irish unity : " The Northern Government cannot continue to act as if the twenty-six counties under Mr. de Valera's rule simply did not exist. They do exist and their position, vis-a-vis the Commonwealth, is of immense —indeed, almost of paramount—importance. We believe that, for all his shortcomings, Mr. de Valera sincerely desires to make friends with Great Britain.
" The Government of Northern Ireland has an opportunity now to heal a running sore in the body of the British Empire.
" It is in a strong position, and. therefore, can afford to he magnanimous."