In his review (March/April) of “Coolacrease” Joost Augusteijn tries to be fair. But, referring to the 1918 Election, he falls into a trap laid by British politicians and journalists noted in his diary by Edward MacLysaght on January 28 1919 exactly a week after the first meeting of Dail Eireann.
“In quoting statistics for last year’s General Election they give the total votes cast for and against Sinn Fein only in contested elections ,completely ignoring the 25 constituencies where Sinn Fein candidates were returned unopposed, thus presenting an entirely misleading picture.”
In 1918 and for some decades before it was common throughout the United Kingdom foe constituencies to be uncontested. In Ireland Unionists normally did not nominate candidates in constituencies where they hadn’t a hope of winning. In both 1886 and 1906 the Unionists polled more of the VOTES CAST than the NATIONALISTS but got MANY FEWER SEATS. In 1886 some 66 of the seats won by the Nationalists went to them without a single vote cast. In 1906 no less than 84 seats went to the Nationalists without a contest.
The contention that, because in 1918 only 47% of the VOTES CAST went to Sinn Fein, that that party was over-represented by the seats won (73 out of Ireland’s 105) is more than a trifle disingenuous.
Municipal, County and other elections in 1920 and the General Election of 1921 confirmed the popular mandate won by Sinn Fein in 1918.
Since I came to London in 1964 there have been twelve General Elections. In only one did the winning party get as much as 47% of the votes cast. Today’s UK government holds a large majority of the seats with but 35% of the votes cast
It appears that in 1919 some British knaves laid traps for fools which are today snaring distinguished academics such as Professor Richard English of Queen’s University, Belfast, and the retired Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Dr.Garret Fitzgerald. Not to mention Dr Augustjeign!
Joost Augustjeign tells us that the custodians of international law take no cognisance of democratic mandates, even ones on such a scale as Sinn Fein’s in 1918,
Let’s examine the credentials of the custodians of international law.
Those of the United Kingdom derive from The Glorious Revolution which put the House of Orange on the Thrones of Great Britain and Ireland with much bloodshed in Ireland.
Those of the United States derive from the French landing at Yorktown, and a battle, which, if it had gone the other way would have seen the Rebel Washington dangling at the end of a British rope.
As for France, her credentials stem from an Allied attack which caused 3,000 French civilian fatalities on D-Day alone, not to mention almost a year’s more carnage.
Neither de Valera’s appeals to the United States nor even to the Irish Catholic Hierarchy could find recognition for the authority of the Irish people and their Parliament, Dail Eireann. Whatever grudging advantages since won needed more than the “X” Factor of votes cast, just as did the triumph of the Prince of Orange in his day.
DONAL KENNEDY 2009