It boots not to dwell at any great length on the contests that followed. Suffice it to say that Irish manhood and Irish honesty magnificently asserted itself against the audacious and unscrupulous tactics of the Party plotters. Mr O'Brien, by a destiny there was no resisting, was forced into the fight in Cork City and emerged victoriously from the ordeal, as well as winning also in North-East Cork. In my own case, except for the splendid and most generous assistance given me by Mr Jeremiah O'Leary, the leading citizen of Macroom, who shared all the labours and all the anxieties of my campaign, I was left to fight my battle almost single-handed, having arrayed against me two canons of my Church and every Catholic clergyman in the constituency, with two or three notable exceptions. The odds seemed hopeless, but the result provides the all-sufficient answer to those who say that the Irish Catholic vote can be controlled under all circumstances by the priests, for I scored a surprising majority of 825 in a total poll of about 4500, and I have good reason for stating that 95 per cent. of the illiterate votes were cast in my favour, although a most powerful personal canvass was made of every vote in the constituency by the clergy.

I consider this incident worthy of special emphasis in view of the ignorant and malicious statements of English and Unionist publicists, who make it a stock argument against the grant of independence to Ireland that the Catholics will vote as they are bidden by their priests. I have sufficient experience and knowledge of my countrymen to say that whilst in troublous times the Irish soggarths were the natural leaders and protectors of their flocks, even to the peril of their lives, yet in these times, when other conditions prevail, whilst in religion remaining staunchly loyal to their faith and its teachers, when it comes to a question of political principle there is no man in all the world who can be so independently self-assertive as the Irish Catholic. There is nothing to fear for Ireland, either now or in the future, from what I may term clericalism in politics, whilst on the other hand it is earnestly to be hoped that nothing will ever happen to intrude unnecessarily the question or authority of religion in the domain of more mundane affairs.

Mr O'Brien sums up the result of the General Election briefly thus:

"When the smoke of battle cleared away, nevertheless, every friend of mine, against whom this pitiless cannonade of vengeance had been directed, stood victorious on the field, and it was the conspirators who a few weeks before deemed themselves unshakable in the mastery of Ireland who, to their almost comic bewilderment and dismay, found themselves and their boasts rolled in the dust. Not only did every man for whose destruction they had thrown all prudence to the winds find his way back to Parliament in their despite, but in at least eighteen other constituencies their plots to replace members under any suspicion of independence with reliables absolutely amenable to the signs and passwords of the Order resulted in their being blown sky-high with their own petards.... Messrs Dillon and Devlin led their demoralised forces back, seventy in place of eighty-three, and for the first time since 1885 they went back a minority of the Nationalist votes actually cast as between the policy of Conciliation and the policy of Vae Victis."

Mr O'Brien had established a campaign sheet during the election called The Cork Accent (as a sort of reminder of the "Baton" Convention, at which the order was given that no one with a "Cork accent" should be allowed near the platform), and surely never did paper render more brilliant service in an exceptional emergency. It was his intention that his attitude in the new Parliament should be one of "patient observation" and of steady but unaggressive allegiance to the principles of national reconciliation. But such a role was rendered impossible by the active hostility of Mr Dillon and his followers. The doors of the Party were shut and banged against every man who was independently elected by the voters. It was proclaimed that we would be helpless in the country without organisation or newspaper to support us and that we would be left even without the means of travelling to London to represent our constituents.

We could not sit inactively under this decree of annihilation. It was decided to continue The Cork Accent in a permanent form as a daily journal under the title of The Cork Free Press, which was founded at a public meeting presided over by the Lord Mayor. The All-for-Ireland League was also established to advocate and expound the principles for which we stood in Irish life. Its purposes are clearly stated in the resolution which gave it birth - viz.:

"That inasmuch as we regard self-Government in purely Irish affairs, the transfer of the soil to the cultivators upon just terms, and the relief of Ireland from intolerable over-taxation as essential conditions of happiness and prosperity for our country, and further inasmuch as we believe the surest means of effecting these objects to be a combination of all the elements of the Irish population in a spirit of mutual tolerance and patriotic good will, such as will guarantee to the Protestant minority of our fellow-countrymen inviolable security for all their rights and liberties and win the friendship of the entire people of Great Britain, this representative meeting of the City and County of Cork hereby establishes an Association to be called the All-for-Ireland League, whose primary object shall be the union and active co-operation in every department of our national life of all Irish men and women who believe in the principle of domestic self-government for Ireland."

The All-for-Ireland League made memorable progress in a brief space of time. Mr O'Brien's return to public life was hailed even by the late W.T. Stead in The Westminster Gazette as nothing short of a great political resurrection. The noble appeal of the League's programme to the chivalrous instincts of the race attracted the young men to its side with an enthusiasm amounting to an inspiration. The Protestant minority in Southern Ireland were being gradually won over to a genuine confidence in our motives and generous intentions to safeguard fully their interests and position and to secure them an adequate part in the future government of our common country. Even the great British parties began to see in the new movement hopes of that peace and reconciliation between Great Britain and Ireland which must be the hope of all just and broad-minded statesmanship.

It was in these circumstances that the Party surrendered "at discretion" to the expediencies of Liberalism, abjectly waiving their position as an independent entity in Parliament, with no shadow of the pride and spirit of the Parnell period left, seeming to exist for the favours and bonuses that came their way, and for the rest playing to the gallery in Ireland by telling them that Home Rule was coming "at no far distant date," and that they had only to trust to Asquith and all would be well. Never had a Party such a combination of favourable circumstances to command success. They possessed a strategical advantage such as Parnell would have given his life for - they held the balance of power and they could order the Government to do their bidding or quit. Yet instead of regarding themselves as the ambassadors of a nation claiming its liberty they seemed to be obsessed with a criminal selfishness passing all possible belief. When it was proposed to make Members of Parliament stipendiaries of the State, they at first protested vehemently against the application of this principle to the Irish representatives, and therein they were right. From a purely democratic standpoint no reasonable objection can be urged against the payment of those who give their time and talent to the public service, but Ireland was in different case. Her representatives were at Westminster unwillingly, not to assist in the government of the Empire with gracious intent, but rather definitely to obstruct, impede and hamper this government until Ireland's inalienable right to self-government was conceded, and therefore it was their clear duty to say that they would accept payment only from the country and the people they served and that they cast back this Treasury bribe in the teeth of those who offered it. But having ostentatiously resolved that they would never accept a Parliamentary stipend, they finally allowed their virtuous resistance to temptation to be overcome and voted for "payment of members," which, without their votes, would never have been adopted by the House of Commons. There were placemen now in Parliament, and place-hunting was no longer a pastime to be proscribed amongst Nationalists. It may be there was no wilful corruption in thus accepting from the common purse of the United Kingdom payment which was made to all Members of Parliament alike, but it deprived the Irish people of control of their representatives and handed them over to the control of the English Treasury, and thus opened the way to the downfall of Parliamentarianism in Ireland that rapidly set in. Abandoned all too lightly was the rigid principle that to accept favours from England was to betray Ireland, and the pursuit of place and patronage was esteemed as not being inconsistent with a pure patriotism.

Furthermore, as if to cap the climax of their imbecilities and blunders, the Irish Party allowed the first precious year of their mastery of Parliament to be devoted to the passage of an Insurance Act which nobody in Ireland outside the job-seekers wanted, which every independent voice in the country, including a unanimous Bench of Bishops, protested against, and whose only recommendation was that it provided a regular deluge of well-paid positions for the votaries of the secret sectarian society that had the country in its vicious grip. Such a debauch of sham Nationalism as now ensued was never paralleled in the worst period of Ireland's history, and that this should be done in the name of patriotism was not its least degrading feature. Nemesis could not fail to overtake this conscious sin against the national ideal. It met with its own condign punishment before many years were over. To show the veritable depths of baseness to which the so-called National Movement had fallen it need only be stated that it was charged against their official organ - The Freeman's Journal - that no less than eighteen members of its staff had obtained positions of profit under the Crown, including a Lord Chancellorship, an Under-secretaryship, Judgeships, Crown Prosecutorships, University Professorships, Resident Magistracies, Local Government Inspectorships, etc. In this connection it is also worthy of mention that when the premises of this concern were burnt out in the course of the Easter Week Rebellion it was reendowed for "national" purposes, with a Treasury grant of L60,000, being twice the amount which the then directors of theFreeman confessed to be the business value of the property.

Thus did the "Board of Erin" attract to its side all the most selfish and disreputable elements in Irish Catholic life, and thus also did it repel and disgust the more broad-minded and tolerant Protestant patriots whom the All-for-Ireland programme, under happier circumstances, would have undoubtedly won over to the side of Home Rule. Much might even yet be forgiven to the men who had the destiny of Ireland in their hands if they had shown any striking capacity to exact a measure of self-government sufficiently big and broad to justify the national demand as then understood. But they showed neither strength nor wisdom, neither courage nor sagacity in their dealings with the English Liberal leaders and old Parliamentary hands against whom they were pitted. They were hopelessly out-manoeuvred and overmatched at every stage of the game. It is but just to state that the members of the Party as a whole had scarcely an atom of responsibility for these miserable failures and defects of policy. They owed their election to "the machine." They were the complaisant bondsmen of the secret Order. Whatever they felt they dared not utter a word which would bring the wrath of "the Bosses" upon their heads. They were never candidly consulted as to tactics or strategy, or even first principles.

The decisions of the little ring of three or four who dominated the situation within the Party were sometimes, it may be, submitted to them for their formal approval, but more often than otherwise this show of formal courtesy was not shown them. The position of Mr Redmond was most humiliating of all. He did not lack many of the qualities which might have made for greatness in leadership, but he did undoubtedly lack the quality of backbone and that strength of character to assert himself and to maintain his own position without which no man can be truly considered great. Whenever it came to an issue between them it is well known he had to submit his judgment and to bend his will to the decision of the three others - Messrs Dillon, Devlin and T.P. O'Connor - who must historically be held responsible for the mistakes and weaknesses and horrible blunders of those years, which no self-respecting Irishman of the future can ever look back upon without a shudder of horror.

The Home Rule Bill, which was the product of those shameful years of debility and disgrace, was so poor and paltry a thing as to be almost an insult to Irish patriotism and intelligence. It proposed to establish merely a nominal Parliament in Dublin. It was financially unsound, besides being a denial of Ireland's right to fix and levy her own taxes. As a matter of fact, the power of taxation was rigorously maintained at Westminster with a reduced Irish representation of two-thirds. And this was the measure which was proclaimed to be greater than Grattan's Parliament or than any of the previous Home Rule Bills! Furthermore, it made no provision for the completion of land purchase, but Mr Asquith was not really to be blamed for this, as Mr Dillon proclaimed that one of the great attractions of the Bill was that it would leave the remnant of the landlords to be dealt with by him and his obedient henchmen. Finally, neither the Liberal Party nor their faithful Irish supporters would hear of any concessions to Ulster.

These people were now so arrogant in the fancied security and strength of their position to do just as they pleased that Mr Redmond rashly undertook "to put down Ulster with the strong hand" and rather prematurely declared: "There is no longer an Ulster difficulty." One further financial infamy the Bill perpetrated. The twenty millions sterling which were, under the Land Purchase Act of 1903, to have been a free Imperial grant to lubricate the wheels of agrarian settlement, was henceforth and by a "Home Rule Government" to be audaciously charged as a debt against Ireland. And this, be it noted, was part of the pact come to with the "Nationalist" leaders at the Downing Street breakfast-table, where Ireland's fate was sealed, and which they joyously supported in the House of Commons against such opposition as the All-for-Ireland minority was allowed to give it by the ruthless application of the guillotine.

The Independent Nationalist members were willing to make the best of a very "bad bargain," if only they could succeed in getting adopted three amendments which they regarded as vital to the success of the measure: (1) A new financial plan; (2) the completion of land purchase, and (3) such concessions as would win the consent of Ulster. But our reward for thus endeavouring to make the Bill adaptable to Irish requirements and acceptable to the whole of Ireland was to be dubbed "factionists" and "traitors" by the official Irish Party, who never once during three years' debates in Parliament made the slightest attempt to amend or improve the Bill, but who remained silent and impotent as graven images on the Irish benches whilst the way was being paved for all the ruin and desolation and accumulated horrors that have since come to Ireland through their compliant and criminal imbecility.

They had a perfect Parliamentary unity; they certainly seemed to have the most perfect understanding with their Liberal friends, but they had no more claim to represent an independent, vigilant, self-respecting nation than they had to represent, say, "Morocco"!