Young readers may be surprised to learn that writing ballocks about Sinn Fein did not originate in the Irish Times or the Sunday Independent or in the scriptorium of Seamus Murphy SJ or even in the Episcopal Residence of the Church of Ireland Primate in Dublin, Michael Jackson.
It must be nearly sixty-five years since I first read the illiterate headline above and the article printed under it in a magazine which, even then, was thirty-five years old. The magazine was THE ENGLISH REVIEW and the piece was by one Major Stuart-Stephens. It was dated MAY 1916 but it had obviously gone to print before the Insurrection.
I reacquainted myself with the magazine and the article in the British Library recently and for good measure read “HOW I FORETOLD THE SINN FEIN REBELLION” by Major Darnley-Stuart-Stephens in the JUNE 1916 issue.
The double-barrelled or triple-barrelled gentleman was a tiresome and boastful writer and had apparently hanged black men in Nigeria, been involved in trying to blacken Michael Davitt in the 1880s and had met Lord Salisbury at that time. It seems too that he had blotted his copybook when a Captain and been cashiered before resuming his career.Though it seems he was born in Dublin his contempt for Ireland- “Patland” exuded from his every pore. It seems too that he had been exposed to an education of sorts but not quite absorbed it.
Darnley-Stuart-Stephens claimed to have predicted both the date of the 1916 Rising (having seen, three days before it, a letter written by John Devoy in Brooklyn) and warned the British Government. For good measure he claimed to have previously told that Government that “the world-war would be inaugurated on August Bank Holiday 1914.”
He writes under ‘The Sinn Fein Inner Circle: Its Oath’ :
“The entire history of Irish revolutionary secret societies is associated with the fact, more than once illustrated in Ireland in a sanguinary manner, that they invariably include inner circles which stop at no crime to attain their purposes.The most extreme section of the Sinn Fein is known, within the ranks of the organisation, as the Cumann Na Gadhael. The membership of its branches or sections in numerically small, particular care being taken to the antecedents of those admitted. Each member has his particular number, which he gives as a password before being admitted to any of the meetings of the inner circle.”
The paragraph then meanders in its prolix, verbose way before quoting the alleged oath:
“I,——–hereby solemnly swear and make oath, before the Most High God, before whom I expect to be judged, that I will seek out and leave no means untried to exterminate, as foes of the liberty of my country, any West Briton or West Britons who shall induce my fellow-countrymen to enlist in the army of England.”
The long-windedness of the oath is in keeping with the long-windedness of Major Darnley-Stuart-Stephens, though its sentiments are, to this citizen, sound enough.
But Sinn Fein has never been an oath-bound nor a secret society.
I had intended posting this blog earlier, but kept it until there was no chance of extracts being used out of context by ruthless or even Ruth-Full commentators during the recent General Election campaign.