From Our Dublin Correspondent Great anxiety has been caused by the news that President de Valera is returning to Zurich to consult Dr. Vogt, the eye specialist who operated on him last year for cataract. Mr. de Valera has returned to the use of dark glasses.
I am told that the alarm is unnecessary. A visit to Dr. Vogt was planned months ago, and the patient has done as well as was hoped. Those in close touch with Mr. de Valera believe that, with the Divine blessing, his sight and general health will last out for many years and enable him. to complete the works to which he has set his hand.
The President's hint in his Christmas broadcast of hope of an Anglo-Irish settlement this year has caused a great wave of
interest. It is the subject of talk everywhere, and, though many people familiar with the difficulties in the way of an ending of partition are hardly optimistic, it is true that everyone expects some turn for the better in the long international deadlock.
Irish Appeal to Franco
The intense interest with which Ireland follows the fortunes of the Spanish conflict is reflected in the Irish Monthly, which publishes essays month by month in sup port of the Patriot cause. The latest is An Open Letter to General F'ratteo, and has attracted notice on account of its appeal for a federal settlement of the Basque and Catalan claims.
I have mentioned already that the Basques have many supporters in Ireland, so much so that Irish sympathy with nationalistic movements everywhere has caused many to take a biassed view against General Franco, on the assumption that the most extreme Basque claims are justified.
A Basque Nationalist priest has toured Ireland. making surpri,sing charges and confusing Irish judgment.
The Irish Monthly article gives the reply of well-informed Irish supporters of Franco to the Basque Nationalists. I quote some passages:-
The Basques of Navarre . . rallied to the army of liberation with a glorious enthusiasm. Ifn the coastal Basque provinces. however. the melancholy sight was seen of Catholics, for the sale of a temporal local iiii, lending a half-hearted aid. but real Ital. to the enemies of their religion. The Catalans also were not separatists, out and out, until lately. Indeed, when they sent forces into Madrid in November to prevent the eapture of the city, they forfeited any claim to independence; for they
I" could nut he Spaniards One day when it. pleased them to fight fdr Castile, aatk pot Spaniards tomorrow when it pleaseti Mein to return to Catalonia and claim to wash their hands of. Spain. '
Since neither of these groups has been consistently separatist, neither has title to separation. Both. by aiding; the t•neinies of Spain, have justified Spain if she compels uniformity ill protectionof herself. Yet
Spain will do %eel1 to distinguish the honest local patriotism on which less honest leaders played when they succeeded in swinging great forres against you ((eneral Franco) in. the nanie of Catalan and Basque interests.
We say to you. then,—recognise meal patriotism. and devolve in order to unite.
This article has been quoted and commented upon very widely, and seems to represent Irish Catholic opinion pretty justly.—" Let Spain triumph. then, on the grand principle of the Faith and Hispanity, but let local patriotism flourish to the full in harmony therewith. Look forward to the time when. with the loosest of formal compulsion and the strongest of mutual love and unanimity, all Spain will be one . . . Then will the man who made this consummation possible, General Franco, be praised among the chief builders of the restored Christian civilisation. Viva Esparta!"
Mr. Belton and the Jews
Mr. Patrick Belton, T.D., chairman of the Irish Christian Front, succeeded in getting the Dublin County Council, of which also he is chairman, to adopt a resolution which will prevent Jews from killing beasts in accordance with their ritual require ments. Henceforth, all animals killed in the abattoirs under the Council's jurisdiction, must be slain with the " humane killer," so that Jews no longer may cut the throats of living beasts and drain away the blood.
In proposing the resolution—which withdraws from the Jews a legal privilege that they enjoy everywhere else, it is said, save in Nazi Germany—Mr. Belton denied that he was actuated by intolerant motives. Many people felt, however, that the resolution set the supposed rights of animals above the real rights of man—humanitarianism above legitimate human freedom. Professor John Howley, writing from University College, Galway. to the Irish Press. says:—
"As a citizen of the Saorstat, born in Dublin, and particularly as a Catholic, I desire to protest with my utmost strength against Mr. Belton's attack on the Jews.
He assails them in their fidelity to that Law which the Holy Family and the i Apostles observed under the Old Dispensation. Can we give this assault any other name than odious persecution?"
Dr. Howley, who lectures in Philosophy, is one of Catholic Ireland's best lay intellects, and author of some notable works on psychology and mysticism. Perhaps his letter is a trifle strong in the last sentence, but he shows good reasons why the chairman of the Irish Christian Front ought to rescind a proposal which must have been taken up impetuously.
Mr. Belton has announced that medical supplies to the value of £29,000 have been sent to the Patriot armies in Spain. Eight motor 'ambulances have been ordered in Dublin.
The marriage rate in the Free State increased slightly in the quarter ended September 30, but it is still little more than half the English rate. The rate for Catholic marriages is lower than for Protestant marriages.
These returns shciw little improvement, if any, in the numerical prospects of Catholic Ireland. It is true that the Free State birth rate is high, 20 per 1,000, but until Catholic marriages arc more numerous, and our huge proportion of Catholic bachelors is reduced, the Catholic population will not increase at due speed.
It has been urged in several places lately that the new factories, by employing girls instead of men, are tending to bring Catholic marriages to a standstill.
Air Links with America
An extremely important development is the initiation of transatlantic air services from a base in Ireland.
At the moment of writing. we are expecting a seaplane in the Shannon, to make an experimental flight for Imperial Airways to the New World. Report says that the Caledonia, the air vessel which recently performed an important flight from Egypt, will be the craft concerned.
In the development of aviation, our Minister for Defence has taken a very lively personal interest. He is a keen flier himself, and his zeal has brought the Shannon project to its present stage. This was not done without political trouble. Miss Mary McSwiney has charged the Free State Government with surrendering Irish waters to British interests, since Imperial Airways will make the Shannon base part of a chain of stations. In reply it is affirmed that the Free State Government will retain complete military and commercial control of this vital link in world communications.
A Notable Jubilee
The recent jubilee of the Mother General of the St. Louis Order in Ireland (Rev. Mother M. Raphael) was a notable event
in Monaghan. Cardinal MacRory, the Bishop of Achonry, and the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise visited the Convent, and the Bishop of Clogher presided at delightful ceremanies.
St. Louis Convent, Monaghan, is the mother house of one of' the most remarkable teaching Orders. Since French nuns set up that house some 80 years ago, living in extreme poverty and supported by struggling people whose children they taught in return for the means of sustenance. the Order has thriven remarkably, and now the house at Monaghan is one of Ireland's biggest schools and convents, notable for its unbroken academic suc cesses, year after year. From it, houses almost equally successful have sprung up all over Ireland, and daughter houses have risen in England—the latest of them, set up in this New Year, at Newmarket.
From the start, taking their cue from the high Catholic patriotism of small-holding Monaghan, the St. Louis Sisters have been conspicuous in their attention to Irish tradition, and they have linked this to the fine Continental culture that their founders brought. Hence has come the line of scholarly religious women which has such a remarkable record to its credit.—These comments were made by many of the visitors during the week of Mother Raphael's jubilee, which concluded with a festivity in which the pupils gave an opera of Verdi's.
* * * Miscellanea
Next week. Radio Athlone will initiate an ambitious scheme of broadcasts for schools. Dr. T. J. Kiernan gave an account of the scheme, which appears to be finely conceived and likely to raise the cultural work of Irish schools to a high plane.
I made a slip in the names of the Irish prelates who will attend the Eucharistic Congress at Manila. They are the Archbishop of Tuam, the Bishop of Achonry and the Bishop of Ardeigh and Clonrnac
noise. It is interesting that the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Gilmartin, consecrated the Archbishop of Manila, 25 years ago, a bishop.
The Minister for Defence, Mr. Frank Aiken, T.D., has denied that a general amnesty for political prisoners can be granted. In the case of prisoners not convicted for acts of violence, the Executive Council will consider appeals for release, if a promise to obey the law is given.