Ambassadors at a Foreign Court

Sean Doyle of Wicklow IWU And Eirigi address to those gathered outside the British World War One Memorial Garden, Woodenbridge, County Wicklow on 20 September 2014.

One hundred years ago on this day 1914 John Redmond leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party and Home Rule Movement on his way home from London alleges he coincidentally came across a meeting of the Maryboro Volunteers here in Woodenbridge and as he said “I could not deny myself the pleasure and honour of waiting to meet you”. Likewise, we are here today and it is no coincidence; as it is no coincidence that volunteers from all over Wicklow, 1200 so far, are remembered across the road in this British World War One Memorial Garden.

Why Woodenbridge? Why on the centenary of Redmond’s speech other than he is regarded as having greatly influenced their enlistment and split the volunteers.

That is why we are here today, not to disrespect the sacrifices of this misguided tragic loss of life but to question the role of Redmond and the Home Rule movement.

James Connolly and the Irish Citizens Army on hearing of Redmond’s call to the volunteers to join the British army made up a large banner and placed it across Liberty Hall, We Serve Neither King Nor Kaiser But Ireland. We are here today I believe duty bound to present the views of the Irish Citizen’s Army, the men and women who risked and gave their lives fighting the crown forces and who believed England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity.

Redmond’s speech says “at this moment this country is in a state of war, this war is undertaken in defence of the highest principles of religion, morality and right”. King Leopold the 2nd of Belgium - what right did he afford the Congolese people in the Congo Free State when he robbed their rubber plantations and ivory enforcing his reign of terror with Belgian officers and recruited mercenaries when he enslaved them, cut hands and feet off women and children if the men were not productive enough, whipped and starved them to death in camps?

Where were the Home Rulers Redmond and associates while Irish people were fighting for their rights in the workplace? Connolly had the measure of their priorities:
if an Irish landlord evicts a tenant farmer he is denounced by the Home Rule press as an enemy to Ireland. But an Irish employer can lock out and attempt to starve thousands of true Irishmen as was done in the building trade in 1896 in the tailoring trade in 1900 and in the engineers of Inchicore in 1902 and not a member of parliament would take up the fight for the workers or bother himself about them.

But that alignment with business continued with the 1911 lock out in the foundries in Wexford and the 1913 lock out in Dublin. In the course of the 19th century as a result of British oppression and starvation of 1847 the population of Ireland halved only 67 years before Redmond’s call to join the British army.

World War One was an imperialist war for greed and dominance with the working class as the tools to fight it just as the Home Rulers diverted our volunteers fight for Irish freedom to be sacrificed and die on foreign soil for the British Empire.
The Home Rule Party were merely the ambassadors at a foreign court, ambassadors who remained powerless until the popular armies in Ireland had struck down landlordism in spite of evictions battering rams imprisonment and death. The Irish parliamentarians met the British politicians on their own chosen field of battle and lost every move of the game. Every time the astute British politicians called for a sacrifice on the part of the Irish Home Rule Party, that party yielded the point and sacrificed their principles. They yielded to sacrifice Ulster and divide their country, they yielded the control of taxation, they yielded control over the Post Office, customs and excise, and in short they yielded everything that gives life and power to a nation.

And finally, when their grandest opportunity came in the breath of war they yielded up countless thousands of the lives of their trusting fellow countrymen. And in return they achieved nothing!
In conclusion Connolly wrote in The Irish Worker of the 8th August 1914:
should the working class of Europe, rather than slaughter each other for the benefits of kings and financiers, proceed tomorrow to erect barricades all over Europe...that war might be abolished, we should be perfectly justified in following such a glorious example and contributing our aid to the final dethronement of the vulture classes that rule and rob the world.


  1. WW1 was a legitimate war fought against an imperial power which had just invaded a neutral country and which intended to conquer all of Europe. Had they then gone on to conquer Britain, and invade Ireland, any subsequent resistance from the followers of Connolly and Pearse would have been put down with mass executions and poison gas.

  2. Cue Bono, WW1 was a family feud that got out of hand (kinda like the Hatfields & McCoys only on a larger scale) and the Rothschilds bank rolled both-sides and looking at Europe today the German's won...

  3. Connoly was spot on. It is such a pity but not a surprise that a man from Scotland called it right, rather than an Irishman. Thought i have come to understand over the course of many years that even though there are many Irish women/men who will stand by those principles, there are few who could consieve of them.

    The western powers are advancing ever further towards world domination and the ultimate goal of complete control.

    Most people on this site are aware of this advance because we have been witness to revolutionaries becoming robotic in the way they respond to questions.

    This world right now has only one goal and that is the process of turning us all in to tax paying consummers, so as to oil the mighty coggs of power. To be enjoyed by those that have enjoyed this privillage for centuaries.

    We all are accountable to ourselves for the choices we make in this life before we take into considerration the mind shaping material we are exposed to day and daily.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, I have a life, I am not an Irish republican,(although I used to believe i was, before the cop on). I am just an Irishman that has seen what has went on in this country and I am many miles from embraccing a smile.

    So here we go to putting the cheese upon the trap. At 50 I have been in the IRA, have served time for it but am totally disgusted. I only have this life and am on the wrong side of my life for evoking much change. But we are all in the same boat and rite now i would ride a bomb of devastation into the heart of any establishment that tried to tell me, what i should and shoild not except, if it was not the will of all the people.

    I am one person with one life, I was proud to be be an IRA man like so many others, but I detest what SF has done with what was the peoples army and what was the peoples arms. They are now my ennemies because they now hold the brittish line, i will give my life to defeat this scum, i dont have much of it left i reckon but i do have principles.

  4. Frankie,

    It was a little bit more complicated than that given that the British Royal Family had no real say in whether the UK went to war or not.

    Suffice to say that the Germans were the aggressors and if people, like those in that cemetery, hadn't gone off to fight them you would very likely be living in a province of Grosse Deutschland today celebrating the Octoberfest.

    Sometimes it is wise to think of whether actions stemming from your hatred of Britain might lead to a more unpalatable alternative.

  5. The IRA Provo version) were hardly the 'People's Army' when the vast majority of the people on this island were opposed to them.

  6. Cue Bono,
    The British Royal family have more sway over political events than people think or want to believe. And at the time of WW1 they had almost total control of what laws were and were not passed in Westminster. I'll dig out links later to show you how much influence they actually have. I don't hate Britain. I don't like what she has done to Ireland or any part of this rock but I don't hate. I don't even hate the enemy or her mother (and I should). Maybe I'm wrong on what hate does to people but i reckon If I hated someone I'd probably want to kill them and I don't want to kill anyone.. I have total in difference to Britain..

  7. Frankie,

    I would certainy like to see those links.

    It was my understanding that after the original republican Oliver Cromwell chopped Charles the First's head off, and the subsequent Glorious Revolution etc (the one the Prods celebrate)Britain was left with a constitutional monarchy.

    Meaning that Parliament was sovereign and that never again could a monarch dictate national policy let alone push the country into war.

    Anyway the point is that Britain went to war after Germany invaded neutral Belgium. If they hadn't the world would have been a very different and very bratwurst orientated place.