A Chinn Chomhairle is a lucht na Dála, tá mo dhóthain céille agam chun a thuisgint gurb é anois an t-am chun srian a chur lem' theangain nuair atá mo chroí, mar tá sé, lán.
I have enough of common sense to know that it is not when one's heart is full that one should talk, and I fear very much that if I were to talk now I should say things that perhaps had better be left unsaid. I hope that a time will come when I can say all the things that I would like to say at a moment like this. I do feel as a boy amongst boys. I hope that we shall win this Cause as near to Heaven as boys are.
Credit has been given to me for things that have not been done by me, but by the magnificent comrades who have worked with me. I have got credit for work which was not my work, but the work of loyal comrades like Arthur Griffith, Cathal Brugha, Michael Collins, and other heroes working with me. It is as a team that we have worked, and it is as a team that we shall work. I believe that never had a man such an easy task in working with comrades such as I have.
When I was in America I used to be amused at the talk about splits and extremists and moderates and differences of opinion. The very night that the British arrested me in Blackrock, they found something which will have taught them that there are no differences of opinion amongst us; and they know it. They found a statement which had been drawn up in order to contradict the statements which were being issued in America and elsewhere—they found a statement signed by every one of the Ministry of Dáil Éireann, both the Ministers who could be got into communication with and the Ministers who were acting at the time.
Every one of them had signed a statement saying that never at any time during the whole period of their office, had there been any difference of opinion between me and them as regards policy and method. And it is because there has been that loyal co-operation, no jostling one above the other, but all working for the common cause in which their hearts were set—the cause of Ireland—that we have been able to achieve what we have achieved.
And it is not merely in the Ministry that that has been so, but it has been so throughout the whole country. The English, who think they are going to divide Ireland now or who place their hopes in what the Times calls “the precipitate tendency of the Irish people,” will be disappointed, as those who thought that the Cabinet of Dáil Éireann or Dáil Éireann itself, would be split, were disappointed.
This nation has been taught lessons, and it has learned from these lessons, thank God. We know who our enemies are; we know the methods of the enemy; and this nation, whatever it does, it will do as a nation and a united nation, and there will be no split in this nation.
With gratitude I turn to you, my comrades and colleagues, who have conferred upon me what I believe is the highest honour that could be conferred at this moment on any human being. Because here, at an issue of peace or war, I have been chosen to be a leader. I do not say that because I have been chosen I will lead, because there has been no necessity for leadership of that kind amongst us.
We know our minds; we know that we have a straight road to travel; no bye-paths to lead us astray. We are keeping on the straight road, and it is a very easy task to lead on a straight road.
We have the courage to face whatever difficulties there are in the path before us. Though it is straight, we know that it is narrow and difficult. And it is because I appreciate that that I am proud of the honour; too proud to dare to speak and tell you how it affects me.
I am not sure that it is twelve o'clock. I thought it would be a proper digression from my thanks to the Dáil for re-electing me to read our last reply to the British Premier. We have promised that it should not be published until twelve o'clock and, as it is a couple of minutes before that time, we had better wait till the time is past.
[After an interval of two minutes, President de Valera continued]:—
Os rud é go bhfuil an t-am caithte anois, tá sé chó maith agam an freagra do léigheadh.
As the time is now expired, I will read for you the answer, which is as follows:—
24 Lughnasa, 1921.
Do Dháithí Uasal Leód Seoirse,
10, Sráid Downing,
An tuairim do bhí agam roimh ré agus mé ag tabhairt freagra ort an 10adh lá de Lughnasa tá deimhniughadh déanta air anois. Leagas tairsgint bhúr Riaghaltais-sa os comhair Dála Éireann, agus dheineadar a dhiúltadh d'aon ghuth.
Ba léir ó nbhúr litir an 13adh lá de Lughnasa gur mhian libh go n-admhuighmís nár mhór ceart na hÉireann do bheith ar lár ar mhaithe le cúrsaibh cosanta Sacsan do réir mar shaoil sí féin, toisc a chomhgaraighe is bhí Éire do Shacsaibh; agus nár mhór d'Éirinn géilleadh do'n smacht iasachta anois toisc a fhaid agus a dhícheallaighe is do bhítheas a d'iarraidh Éire do chur fé'n smacht soin 'san am atá imighthe.
Ní féidir liom a chreideamhaint gur mheas bhúr Riaghaltas feidhm do bhaint as neart airm gan scál a chuirfeadh ar neamhnidh macántacht na náisiún is a chuirfeadh críoch le síothcháin an domhain. Má théigheann ceart saoirse an náisiúin bhig ar cheal chomh luath is chuireann comhursa neartmhar dúil 'san tír i gcomhair airm nó pé buntáiste eile bheadh le baint as, sin deireadh le saoirse. Ní fhéadfadh náisiún beag súil do beith aici le neamhspleadhchas iomshlán feasta. D'fhéadfaidhe Tír fo Thuinn is Danmharc do chur fé smacht na Gearmáine, Flondras fé smacht na Gearmáine nó na Frainnce, an Portainéal fé smacht na Spáinne. Náisiúin dár ceangladh d'impireachtaibh le neart fóiréigin, má chaillid a neamhspleadhchas dá dheascaibh, níl aithbreith na saoirse i ndán dóibh feasta. Maidir le hÉirinn má luadhtar go bhfuil sí ag scaradh le pairtidheacht nár ghlac sí riamh leis, nó le dílse nár gheall sí riamh, níl ann acht bréag ó bhonn; mar a chéile, éagcóir ó bhonn bheith ag éileamh a neamhspleadhchas do chur fé chois ar mhaithe le cosaint Sacsan. Ní féidir linne .i. teachtaidhe an náisiúin, géilleadh do cheachtar aca.
Ní thréigfimíd-na onóir ár dtíre ná an ceart a tugadh dúinn le cosaint; agus má dheineann Sacsa adhbhar cogaidh de sin, is truagh linn é. Is léir dúinn cad é ár gcúram ar son na mbeo, agus ní lugha ár dtuigsint 'san nidh is dual dúinn agus 'san chomaoin atá orainn ag ár marbh cródha. Ní rabhamair ar lorg troda, is nílmíd ar lorg troda; acht má cuirtear an comhrac orainn caithfimíd sinn féin do chosaint agus déanfaimíd san. Agus ciaca eirgheochaidh linn nó ná eirgheochaidh, beimíd deimnighthe ná molfaidh aon dream fear ná ban de theachtaibh Éireann do'n náisiún an ceart is dual di do scaoileadh uaithe.
Is mór is mian linn deireadh do chur leis an achrann so idir Éirinn agus Sacsaibh. Má tá ceaptha ag bhúr Riaghaltas-sa a toil d'imirt orainn le neart fóréigin agus coingeallacha do leagadh amach roimh ré a bhainfeadh dínn ár staid dúthchais is a dhéanfadh adhbhar magaidh de'n socrughadh so ar siubhal eadrainn, sibh-se bheidh ciontach le buaine an achrainn.
Do réir na gnáth-chomhairle úd gur toil an phobuil is bun le Riaghaltas, is féidir síothcháin do dhéanamh feasta, agus síothcháin go mbeidh ceart is onóir ann do chách is go mbeidh cneastacht is buan-mhuinnteardhas mar thoradh air. Is toil le Dáil Éireann teachtaidhe do thoghadh chun a leithéid de shíothcháin do dhéanamh; agus lán-chomhacht do thabhairt dóibh chun a chur i bhfeidhm i nbhúr dteannta-sa, má ghéilleann bhúr Riaghaltas do'n ghnáth-chomhairle seo luaidhte.
do chara gan cháim,
(Síghnithe) Eamon de Valéra.
The Right Hon. David
10 Downing Street,
24th August, 1921.
The anticipatory judgment I gave in my reply of August 10th has been confirmed. I laid the proposals of your Government before Dáil Éireann, and, by an unanimous vote, it has rejected them.
From your letter of August 13th it was clear that the principle we were asked to accept was that the "geographical propinquity" of Ireland to Britain imposed the condition of the subordination of Ireland's right to Britain's strategic interests as she conceives them, and that the very length and persistence of the efforts made in the past to compel Ireland's acquiesence in a foreign domination imposed the condition of acceptance of that domination now.
We cannot believe that your Government intend to commit itself to a principle of sheer militarism destructive of international morality and fatal to the world's peace. If a small nation's right to independence is forfeit when a more powerful neighbour covets its territory for the military or other advantages it is supposed to confer, there is an end to liberty. No longer can any small nation claim a right to a separate sovereign existence. Holland and Denmark can be made subservient to Germany, Belgium to Germany or to France, Portugal to Spain. If nations that have been forcibly annexed to empires lose thereby their title to independence, there can be for them no rebirth to freedom. In Ireland's case, to speak of her seceding from a partnership she has not accepted, or from an allegiance which she has not undertaken to render, is fundamentally false, just as the claim to subordinate her independence to British strategy is fundamentally unjust. To neither can we, as the representatives of the nation, lend countenance.
If our refusal to betray our nation's honour and the trust that has been reposed in us is to be made an issue of war by Great Britain, we deplore it. We are as conscious of our responsibilities to the living as we are mindful of principle or of our obligations to the heroic dead. We have not sought war, nor do we seek war, but if war be made upon us we must defend ourselves, and shall do so, confident that whether our defence be successful or unsuccessful no body of representative Irishmen or Irishwomen will ever propose to the nation the surrender of its birthright.
We long to end the conflict between Britain and Ireland. If your Government be determined to impose its will upon us by force and, antecedent to negotiation, to insist upon conditions that involve a surrender of our whole national position and make negotiation a mockery, the responsibility for the continuance of the conflict rests upon you.
On the basis of the broad guiding principle of government by the consent of the governed, peace can be secured—a peace that will be just and honourable to all, and fruitful of concord and enduring amity. To negotiate such a peace, Dáil Éireann is ready to appoint its representatives, and, if your Government accepts the principle proposed, to invest them with plenary powers to meet and arrange with you for its application in detail.
I am, Sir,
(Signed) Eamon de Valera.
As that reply has been delivered, and as it sums up our position—the position of the Ministry that was in existence until a few moments ago—I do not think that it is necessary to deal with it now, more particularly as we have not got a reply from the British Government. Our position is unchanged. We cannot change our position, because it is fundamentally sound and just. And the moment we get off that fundamental rock of right and justice, we have no case whatsoever. No fight can be made except on that rock, and on that rock we shall stand.