|Inbox||If some readers of that headline choke on their cornflakes I hope their companions hit them, very hard on the back. From the running dogs of Imperialism, masquerading asInternationalists, to the Exclusive Brethern fringes of Republicanism, De Valera is execrated. But in the wider world,where subject peoples struggled for freedom De Valera’sreputation was high in his lifetime. |
De Valera’s reputation rested primarily on Ireland’s centuries- long struggle and secondly on how he handled the cards given him. Facedwith the world’s most powerful, ruthless and perfidious Empire he might have been the model for Cool Hand Luke. But he played his hand not just for Ireland, but for humanity.This should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about the 1930s. De Valera was more Catholic (in his concern for all humanity) than Pope Pius XI , whose support for Mussolini both in Italy and in the Rape of Abyssinia was no less criminal than that of Britain,which made Musso pay into the coffers of her Suez Canal, for the passage of the Rapists and their matereil.
As President of the General Assembly at theLeague of Nations De Valera demanded the all League Members honour their Covenant and he was prepared to commit IRISH TROOPS (i,e. sworn to serve Ireland) to a League force to defend Abyssinia. Haile Selassie,Emperor of Abyssinia, had appeared before the Assembly, demanding its help. But Dev’s was the only other honourable voice in the Assembly.
I don’t know if Dev ever heard of Rastafarianism. When Dev was campaigning in the US for support of our Republic in 1920 Marcus Garvey, founderof Rastafarianism, supported Ireland’s Cause.(Haile Selassie was Ras Tafari.) Dev and Haile Selassie both attended JFK’s funeral. I don’t know whether they spoke together there. It would be interesting to find out. Perhaps some Reggae Artist might do a tribute to Dev.
Dev, in his first break from office in 16 years, visited newly liberated India, the most populous democracy on earth and received a hero’s welcome. This year sees the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Winston Churchill from the burdens of office, a liberation which lasted 6 years. He too, had he been so minded might have visited India. But as he had interned thousands of Indian democrats and caused the deaths of millions by starvation in 1942 and 1943 it is unlikely that he would have had as cordial a welcome.
The United States and Britain are today as contemptuous of the UN Charter as the great powers of the 1930s were of the League of Nations Covenant. Leo Varadkar is equally contemptuous and is happy to have Ireland welsh on its international obligations. In the 1930s the Blue Shirts cheered the Rape of Abyssinia and joined Franco’s murderous mutineers. And Micheál Martin, leader of a once great party, is itching to go into bed with him.