A few years ago The Irish Times reprinted a Cumann na nGaedheal poster of the 1920s which must have told the world that the party was intellectually and morally bankrupt and reduced to schoolyard bully invective against their Fianna Fail rivals. But the paper’s Political Editor, Stephen Collins thought it was brilliant.
The poster was designed like a circus poster and advertised “Devvy’s Circus, featuring ‘Senor de Valera’ and ‘Monsieur Lemass’. It echoed the wretched “Weekly Summary” issued to the “Auxies” during the Tan War in abusing de Valera for having a Spanish father.
Cumann na nGaedheal, to its credit, had earlier established diplomatic relations with Spain, France and other countries and now had sunk so low as to attack fellow Irishmen and recent comrades for having a Spanish father or a French Great-Grandfather. And, into the bargain it had a go at Sean T O Ceallaigh, whose aboriginal Irish lineage was undisputed by calling him “Shanty Kelly” or some such description which did nothing to demean Sean T but much to demean Cumann na nGaedheal,
Duffy’s Circus was then long established and it long outlived Cumann na nGaedheal. If Stephen Collins knows how the party morphed into Fine Gael he is singularly devoid of irony. For the party, when thrown out of office by the voters, grew a paramilitary and uniformed wing, adopted the Fascist salute and other trappings of Continental Fascism and might well have been caricatured as ” O’Duffy’s Circus”
So much for the political judgement of the Political Editor of The Irish Times. Now for a sample of his grasp of political history. He has asserted that the Irish Labour Party is the oldest party in the Dail. and his paper has not published a correction.
Not only did Sinn Fein found Dail Eireann in 1919, but both W T Cosgrave, who was to lead Cumannmna nGaedheal, and Sean T. O Ceallaigh contested and won seats for Sinn Fein in Dublin Corporation years before the Labour Party was founded. Cumann na nGaedheal and Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and Clann na Poblachta were or are off-shoots of Sinn Fein. Even the Labour Party in its current guise or disguise is an off-shoot of off-shoots of Sinn Fein. It might evenbe said that Sinn Fein stuck to its ….principles, longer than those offshoots and ricochets.
Incidentally, the Editor of The Weekly Summary, Major Hugh Pollard of British Intelligence, in 1936 flew a plane to the Canary Islands where General Francisco Franco had been posted to keep him from doing his country a mischief. He then flew Franco to Tetuan in Morocco from whence the mutineer launched his assault on Spanish democracy. General O’Duffy, whose Irish Political Circus had flopped, gathered volunteers to aid Franco’s mutineers, in a comic opera escapade that recalls W.S. Gilbert’s Duke of Plaza Toro. Perhaps Major Pollard helped Cumann na nGaedheal with their election literature?
Would Stephen Collins know?