Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution

By C. Desmond Greaves | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
LAST HOPE OF FREEDOM

DURING the final month of the revolutionary power all the contradictions besetting it appeared magnified to grotesque proportions. The components of the disintegrating petitbourgeois alliance showed a last brief burst of energy like flics in St. Martin’s Summer. There were short-lived motions of renegotiating the “Treaty” in London. The joint election campaign brought estranged friends together. But their efforts rapidly took the form of a joint struggle against Labour. Army reunification was attempted in the midst of preparations for a crusade in Ulster. But scarcely was it under way when its driving force seemed suddenly withdrawn from it. At the same time every discontent reached the boiling point of violence. The inescapable choice showed plainer every day. Either the Irish nation united in defiance of imperialist dictation, in which case the war on the common people must be called off, or one part of the nation must borrow England’s power to crush the remainder. Either alternative had its dangers. It is a fierce indictment of Lloyd George and his Tory friends that such a dilemma should have been presented.

On 22nd May Churchill invited the signatories of the London Agreement to Westminster. His object was to question the compatibility of the pact with the “Treaty”. Next day the Irish Labour Party announced its intention of opposing panel candidates. It had not been consulted upon either pact or constitution, nor the possibility of defending them against British aggression. The Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, recalled on 23 rd May, approved the pact with only one dissentient and complete unconcern for the sensitivities of Labour. The Communist Party of Ireland denounced the pact, claiming that it tied De Valera to Collins as Collins was tied to the Empire. At the other extreme Darrell Figgis, forgetting his Sinn Fein discipline, issued a public appeal to businessmen to offer their own candidates. On 25th May, a Farmers Party was founded, its main plank law and order. Clearly only some spectacular success across the water could save the proposed coalition.

Griffith and Duggan left for London on the night of the 25th.

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