No volume, professing to deal however cursorily with the events of the period, can ignore the profound influence of The Times as a factor in promoting an Irish settlement. That this powerful organ of opinion - so long arrayed in deadly hostility to Ireland - should have in recent years given sympathetic ear to her sufferings and disabilities is an event of the most tremendous significance, and it is not improbable that the Irish administration in these troubled years would have been even more deplorably vicious than it has been were it not that The Times showed the way to other independent journals in England in vigilant criticism and fearless exposure of official wrongdoing.

When, on St Patrick's Day, 1917, Lord Northcliffe spoke at the Irish Club in London on the urgency of an Irish settlement and on the need for the economic and industrial development of the country, and when he proclaimed himself an Irish-born man with "a strong strain of Irish blood" in him, he did a sounder day's work for Ireland than he imagined, for he shattered a tradition of evil association which for generations had linked the name of a great English newspaper with unrelenting opposition to Ireland's historic claim for independence. If Ireland had been then approached in the generous spirit of Lord Northcliffe's speech, if the investigation into Irish self-government for which he pleaded had then taken place, if British statesmen had made "a supreme effort," as he begged them to do, "to find good government for Ireland," I am convinced that all the horrors and manifold disasters of the past four years would have been avoided, and the Irish people would be at this moment in happiness and contentment administering their own affairs. But the voice of sweet reasonableness and statesmanlike admonition was not hearkened unto. The neglect of Ireland and of her industrial concerns, of which Lord Northcliffe so justly made complaint, continued, and instead of the counsels of peace prevailing all the follies of wrong methods and repressive courses were committed which will leave enduring memories of bitterness and broken faith long after a settlement is reached. Meanwhile The Times devoted itself earnestly and assiduously to the cause of peace and justice. It opened its columns to the expression of reasoned opinion on the Irish case. The problem of settlement was admittedly one of extreme difficulty - it welcomed discussion and consideration of every feasible plan in the hope that some via media might be found which would constitute a basis of comparative agreement between the various warring factors. It even instituted independent inquiries of its own and gave an exhaustive and splendidly impartial survey of the whole Irish situation and of the various influences, psychological, religious and material, that made the question one of such complexity and so implacably unyielding in many of its features. Its pressure upon the Government was continuous and consistent, but the Government was deaf to wisdom and dumb to a generous importunity. Not content with appeal, remonstrance and exhortation, The Times, in the summer of 1919, boldly, and with a courage that was greatly daring in the circumstances of the moment, set forth in all detail, and with a vigorous clearness that was most praiseworthy, its own plan of settlement. As it was upon this model that the Ministry later built its Government of Ireland Act, I think it well to quote The Times, own summary of its scheme, though it is but proper to say that whilst the Government adapted the model it discarded everything else that was useful and workmanlike in the structure:


Creation by an Act of Settlement of two State Legislatures for

(a) The whole of Ulster,

(b) The rest of Ireland,

with full powers of legislation in all matters affecting the internal affairs of their respective States. In each State there will be a State Executive responsible to the State Legislature.

By the same Act of Settlement, the creation of an All-Ireland Parliament on the basis of equal representation of the two States - i.e., Ulster is to have as many representatives as the rest of Ireland.

The All-Ireland Parliament to be a Single Chamber which may sit alternately at Dublin and Belfast.


Governing powers not conferred on the State Legislatures will be divided between the All-Ireland and the Imperial Parliament.

The Imperial Parliament will retain such powers as those involving the Crown and the Succession; peace and war; the armed forces.

To the All-Ireland Parliament may be delegated, inter alia, the powers involving direct taxation, Customs and Excise, commercial treaties (with possible exceptions), land purchase, and education. The delegation may take place by stages.


Upon the assumption of the Irish Parliament of any or all of the powers transferred from the Imperial Parliament, an All-Ireland Executive, responsible to the All-Ireland Parliament, will come into being. The Office of Lord Lieutenant, shorn of its political character, will continue. The Lord Lieutenant will have the right of veto on Irish and State legislation, and may be assisted by the Irish Privy Council.


To safeguard the liberties of both States, each State Legislature is to have a permanent veto upon the application of its own State of any legislation passed by an All-Ireland Parliament.

                  Representation at Westminster

Ireland will be still represented at Westminster by direct election. The number of representatives to the Commons is to be determined on the basis of population relative to that of Great Britain. Irish representative peers will retain their seats in the House of Lords.

                     Constitutional Disputes

Constitutional disputes between the Imperial and Irish Parliament will be decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council; those between the Irish Parliament and State Legislatures by an Irish Supreme Court.


In the financial section of the scheme, the case for the over-taxation of Ireland is considered, but it is urged that, while due account should be taken of this circumstance in any plan for financial reconstruction, Ireland ought not to be relieved of her proper share of the cost of the war or of liability for her share of the National Debt.

Ireland is to contribute an annual sum to the Imperial Exchequer, calculated on the relative taxable capacity of Ireland. This will cover interest on the Irish share of the National Debt and a contribution to the Sinking Fund, as well as to defence and other Imperial expenditure.

I do not intend to subject the foregoing scheme to any detailed criticism. The method of constituting the All-Ireland Parliament was open to grave objection. It was to be a single chamber legislature and was to be selected or nominated rather than elected. This damned it right away from the democratic standpoint, and the defence of The Times that "the system of delegations would probably have the advantage of being the simplest inasmuch as it would avoid complicating the electoral machinery" was not very forceful. The supreme test to be applied to any plan of Irish Government is whether it provides, beyond yea or nay, for the absolute unity of Ireland as one distinct nation. Unless this essential unity is recognised all proposals for settlement, no matter how generous in intent otherwise, must fail. Mr Lloyd George grossly offended Irish sentiment when he flippantly declared that Ireland was not one nation but two nations. This is the kind of foolishness that makes one despair at times of British good sense, not to speak of British statesmanship. Mr Asquith, whatever his political blunderings - and they were many and grievous in the case of Ireland - declared in 1912: - "I have always maintained and I maintain as strongly to-day that Ireland is a nation - not two nations but one nation." And those Prime Ministers of another day - Mr Gladstone and Mr Disraeli - were equally emphatic in recognising that Ireland was one distinct nation.

The Times itself saw the folly of partition, for it wrote (24th July 1919):

"The burden of finding a solution rests squarely upon the shoulders of the British Government, and they must bear it until at least the beginnings have been found. Some expedients have found favour among those who realise the urgency of an Irish settlement, but have neither opportunity nor inclination closely to study the intricacies of the question. One such expedient is partition in the form of the total exclusion from the operations of any Irish settlement of the whole or a part of Ulster. Far more cogent reasons than any yet adduced, and far more certainty that every other path had been explored to the end, would be needed to render this expedient other than superficially plausible. Politically there are acute differences between Ulster and the rest of Ireland; economically they are closely interwoven. Economic bonds are stronger than constitutional devices. The partition of Ireland would limit the powers of a Southern parliament so severely, and would leave so little room for development, that it would preclude any adequate realisation of Nationalist hopes. For instance, fiscal autonomy for the Southern provinces could be enjoyed at the price of a Customs barrier round the excluded Ulster Counties. Yet to Irish Nationalists fiscal autonomy is the symbol of freedom. However speciously it may be attired, partition offers no hope of a permanent settlement."

Although The Times specifically denounced partition its proposals undoubtedly perpetuated the partition idea and were thus repugnant to national opinion. Its plan also suggested a settlement by process of gradual evolution, but Ireland had progressed far beyond the point when any step-by-step scheme stood the slightest chance of success. Credit must, however, be given to it for its generous intentions, for the magnificent spirit of fair play it has shown ever since towards a sadly stricken land and for what it has done and is still doing to find peace and healing for the wrongs and sufferings of an afflicted race. For all these things Ireland is deeply grateful, with the gratitude that does not readily forget, and it may be that when all this storm and stress, and the turbulent passions of an evil epoch have passed away, it will be remembered then for Englishmen that their greatest organ in the Press maintained a fine tradition of independence, and thus did much to redeem the good name of Britain when "the Black and Tans" were dragging it woefully in the mire.