Stephen Collins, Political Editor of the Irish Times is given to making surprising assertions and revealing peculiar taste. He is on record as saying that the Irish Labour Party (founded 1912) is the oldest party In Dail Eireann.
Sinn Fein is an older party by about six years, and two of Dail Eireann’s first TDs, Sean T O’Ceallaigh and W.T. Cosgrave had been Sinn Fein Aldermen for some years before, as Sinn Fein Deputies, they attended the inaugural meeting of Dail Eireann on 21 January 1919.
(It might be noted in passing that both O’Ceallaigh and Cosgrave had been Insurgents in Easter Week 1916. Sinn Fein, as SINN FEIN, did not organise the Rising. But Sinn Fein members and Sinn Fein sentiments were closely identified with the Irish Volunteers in the minds of Redmondites, Dublin Castle and others before and after the Rising. Professor John A Murphy’s Anti-“Provo” obsession blinds him to that old connection and the almost as venerable historic fact that the IRA HAS GONE AWAY and DESTROYED Its arsenal.) In fact the Irish Labour Party chose not to contest the 1918 General Election (nor the bye-elections previous to it), nor the 1921 General Election.
All those who attended the First Dail Eireann were elected, or returned unopposefor Sinn Fein. Unionist MPs and Nationalist MPs chose to ignore Dail Eieann. In 1918 voters returned 73 Sinn Feiners, 26 Unionists and 6 Nationalists for Ireland’s 105 Parliamentary Seats.
Stephen Collins wrote nonsense about Labour. Labour first contested seats in an Irish General Election in 1922. It won some seats Some of those elected in June 1922 met in September of that year.
In the meantime some had died violently, some were under arrest And others were being pursued with the purpose of their being Imprisoned or shot. An Oath of Allegiance to the King of England In his Role as Head of the British Commonwealth was enforced. Lawrence Ginnell , who had been elected sought to establish the Status of he Assembly. But it was demanded of him that he take that Oath before he could put the question. So whether that Assembly was Dail Eireann or something else, was left moot. Labour Members tried, honourably, but in vain, to restrain the vengeful career of W T Cosgrave’s junta.
There is a canard, widely fostered, that Eamon de Valera had said “Labour must wait.” But no verifiable evidence has been presented. If he had said it, I would have hoped, that he would have been answered with the (Bowdlerised) Dublin answer “Yeh have yer glue, DEV.” Dev cultivated friendly relations with Labour.
The IRISH TIMES reproduced a 1920s Cumann na Gael election poster which might have embarrassed the KU KLUX KLAN for its xenophobia, and anyone but a dumb cluck for its stupidity. But Stephen Collins praised it.
Eamon de Valera never denied that he had Spanish ancestry. Sean Lemass never denied French ancestry. Nor did it bother them in the least. But the poster had “Senor de Valera” and “Monsieur Lemass”. Sean T. O’Ceallaigh’s Milesian ancestry was in little doubt so he was dubbed “Shanty” O’Kelly they were described as the stars of “DEVVY’S CIRCUS”.
DUFFY’S CIRCUS was known to everyone in those days and for long after.
Cumann na nGael was reduced to the level of schoolyard bullies who would shout “SPECCY FOUR_EYES” at a child wearing glasses .Brainless, heartless, spineless cowardly non-entities, and apparently soul-brothers of Stephen Collins. Witless, also, for Cumann na nGael became a laughing stock, blue-shirted wannabe Hitlers and Mussolinis under EOIN O’DUFFY. Stephen Collins is so oblivious of history that he couldn’t see the irony.
I have only read one piece by Stephen Collins that gave joy to my heart. When some members of Fianna Fail were attempting a putsch against Charles Haughey, Collins asked him if he was going to resign. Charlie went for, and half-strangling him, roared at him to “FUCK OFF” giving voice to my own sentiments towards his interlocutor.
Bravo Charlie! Surely your sins were forgiven!