have here before me the pencilled notes from which
I broadcast to you on 3 September 1939. I had so
many other things to do on that day that I could
not find time to piece them together into a connected
statement. From these notes I see that I said that
noting the march of events your Government had decided
its policy the previous spring, and had announced
its decision to the world.
aim of our policy, I said, would to keep our people
out of the war. I reminded you of what I had said
in the Dail that in our circumstances, with our
history and our experience after the last war and
with a part of our country still unjustly severed
from us; no other policy was possible.
newspapers have been very persistent in looking
for my answer to Mr. Churchill's recent broadcast.
I know the kind of answer I am expected to make.
I know the answer that first springs to the lips
of every man of Irish blood who heard or read that
speech, no matter in what circumstances or in what
part of the world he found himself.
know the reply I would have given a quarter of a
century ago. But I have deliberately decided that
that is not the reply I shall make tonight. I shall
strive not to be guilty of adding any fuel to the
flames of hatred and passion which, if continued
to be fed, promise to burn up whatever is left by
the war of decent human feeling in Europe.
can be made for Mr. Churchill's statement, however
unworthy, in the first flush of his victory. No
such excuse could be found for me in this quieter
atmosphere. There are, however some things which
it is my duty to say, some things which it is essential
to say. I shall try to say them as dispassionately
as I can.
Churchill makes it clear that, in certain circumstances,
he would have violated our neutrality and that he
would justify his action by Britain's necessity.
It seems strange to me that Mr. Churchill does not
see that this, if accepted, would mean Britain's
necessity would become a moral code and that when
this necessity became sufficiently great, other
people's rights were not to count.
is quite true that other great Powers believe in
this same code-in their own regard-and have behaved
in accordance with it. That is precisely why we
have the disastrous succession of wars-World War
No. I and World War No. 2 and shall it be World
War No. 3?
Mr. Churchill must see that if his contention be
admitted in our regard, a like justification can
be framed for similar acts of aggression elsewhere
and no small nation adjoining a great Power could
ever hope to be permitted to go it own way in peace.
is indeed fortunate that Britain's necessity did
not reach the point when Mr. Churchill would have
acted. All credit to him that he successfully resisted
the temptation which, I have not doubt, may times
assailed him in his difficulties and to which I
freely admit many leaders might have easily succumbed.
It is indeed; hard for the strong to be just to
the weak, but acting justly always has its rewards.
resisting his temptation in this instance, Mr. Churchill,
instead of adding another horrid chapter to the
already bloodstained record of the relations between
England and this country, has advanced the cause
of international morality an important step-one
of the most important, indeed, that can be taken
on the road to the establishment of any sure basis
far as the peoples of these two islands are concerned,
it may, perhaps, mark a fresh beginning towards
the realisation of that mutual comprehension to
which Mr. Churchill has referred for which, I hope,
he will not merely pray but work also, as did his
predecessor who will yet, I believe, find the honoured
place in British history which is due to him, as
certainly he will find it in any fair record of
the relations between Britain and ourselves.
Mr. Churchill should be irritated when our neutrality
stood in the way of what he thought he vitally needed,
I understand, but that he or any thinking person
in Britain or elsewhere should fail to see the reason
for our neutrality, I find it hard to conceive.
would like to put a hypothetical question-it is
a question I have put to many Englishmen since the
last war. Suppose Germany had won the war, had invaded
and occupied England, and that after a long lapse
of time and many bitter struggles, she was finally
brought to acquiesce in admitting England's right
to freedom, and let England go, but not the whole
of England, all but, let us say, the six southern
six southern counties, those, let us suppose, commanding
the entrance to the narrow seas, Germany had singled
out and insisted on holding herself with a view
to weakening England as a whole, and maintaining
the securing of her own communications through the
Straits of Dover.
us suppose further, that after all this had happened,
Germany was engaged in a great war in which she
could show that she was on the side of freedom of
a number of small nations, would Mr. Churchill as
an Englishman who believed that his own nation had
as good a right to freedom as any other, not freedom
for a part merely, but freedom for the whole-would
he, whilst Germany still maintained the partition
of his country and occupied six counties of it,
would he lead this partitioned England to join with
Germany in a crusade? I do not think Mr. Churchill
he think the people of partitioned England an object
of shame if they stood neutral in such circumstances?
I do not think Mr. Churchill would.
Churchill is proud of Britain's stand alone, after
France had fallen and before America entered the
he not find in his heart the generosity to acknowledge
that there is a small nation that stood alone not
for one year or two, but for several hundred years
against aggression; that endured spoliation's, famines,
massacres in endless succession; that was clubbed
many times into insensibility, but that each time
on returning consciousness took up the fight anew;
a small nation that could never be got to accept
defeat and has never surrendered her soul?
Churchill is justly proud of his nation's perseverance
against heavy odds. But we in this island are still
prouder of our people's perseverance for freedom
through all the centuries. We, of our time, have
played our part in the perseverance, and we have
pledged our selves to the dead generations who have
preserved intact for us this glorious heritage,
that we, too, will strive to be faithful to the
end, and pass on this tradition unblemished.
a time in the past there appeared little hope except
that hope to which Mr. Churchill referred, that
by standing fast a time would come when, to quote
his own words: "
the tyrant would make
some ghastly mistake which would alter the whole
balance of the struggle."
sincerely trust, however, that it is not thus our
ultimate unity and freedom will be achieved, though
as a younger man I confess I prayed even for that,
and indeed at times saw not other.
latter years, I have had a vision of a nobler and
better ending, better for both our people and for
the future of mankind. For that I have now been
long working. I regret that it is not to this nobler
purpose that Mr. Churchill is lending his hand rather
than, by the abuse of a people who have done him
no wrong, trying to find in a crisis like the present
excuse for continuing the injustice of the mutilation
of our country.
sincerely hope that Mr. Churchill has not deliberately
chosen the latter course but, if he has, however
regretfully we may say it, we can only say, be it
even as a partitioned small nation, we shall go
on and strive to play our part in the world continuing
unswervingly to work for the cause of true freedom
and for peace and understanding."