Had England the wisdom and foresight to grant Ireland Home Rule in 19I2 how relations between both countries could have been so different and much needless bloodshed avoided in Ireland up to the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
In October 1913 Eoin McNeill in an article in the official organ of the non political Gaelic League, according to Brian O Higgins, proposed the formation of a body of Irish Volunteers to maintain and defend the rights of the Irish people. The IRB leaders saw in this something for which they had hoped. They kept in the background but instructed the O Rahilly to contact MacNeill, discuss the matter with him and urge him to go ahead with the idea, the highway to 1916 had its first stone put in place.
The Irish Volunteer force was established with MacNeill as chairman. The first gathering for the enrolment of the Irish Volunteers took place in the Rotunda Dublin on November 25th 1913. Nine days later a Proclamation was issued by Dublin Castle prohibiting the importation of arms and ammunitions into Ireland, but already the Ulster Volunteer Force had unimpeded and without Dublin Castle forces molestation imported a vast amount of war weaponry and had it in place in secure storage during 1912 -13 to defend their particular interests in the North East and oppose Home Rule. John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party in the English House of Commons, had lost touch with the progressive thinking of the young people throughout Ireland and their growing national expectations thanks to the GAA the Gaelic League, active journalists, especially Arthur Griffith founder of Sinn Fein, the Trade Unions, and cultural organisations.
Full story in this week’s Tipperary Star.