Volume 2 1922~1926

Doc No.

No. 281 NAI DFA P424

Extract from an address by Kevin O'Higgins to the Irish Society at Oxford University

Oxford, 31 October 1924

[Matter omitted]

There followed three crowded years of unprecedented national effort, years in which practically the entire country rallied behind its proclaimed Dáil, with its subterranean Departments and its loose flung guerrilla territorial forces. It was a people at bay in defence of its native institutions which every proclamation served but to rivet in their hearts, while Dublin Castle fighting its grim battle for existence struck and struck again with all the ferocity and cunning it had learned through the centuries. Let no man attempt to pick his steps amidst that kind of welter[,] weighing with meticulous scales the rights and wrongs. The people fought as they could[,] remorselessly and desperately. The Castle gave measure for measure. When bullet, rope, bomb, mine[,] torch and thumbscrew had made in fierce crescendo their contributions to the controversy there came the truce, the negotiations and finally that which Miss MacSwiney and Lord Carson from their respective angles call 'The Great Surrender'.

Ireland secured by that 'surrender' a constitutional status equal to that of Canada. 'Canada' said the late Mr. Bonar Law 'is by the full admission of British statesmen equal in status to Great Britain and as free as Great Britain'. The constitutional status of Ireland, therefore, as determined by the Treaty of 1921 is a status of coequality with Britain within the British Commonwealth. The second Article of the Constitution of the Free State declares that 'All powers of Government and all authority legislative, executive and Judicial in Ireland are derived from the people of Ireland.' Yet the right of the people of Ireland to found a State on that broad basis of Democracy was challenged more fiercely than Dublin Castle was challenged by many who had never challenged Dublin Castle and by methods that had not been adopted against Dublin Castle.

[Matter omitted]