Volume 1 1919~1922

Doc No.

No. 236 NAI DT S1801

Press statement by Arthur Griffith on Northern Ireland policy

Dublin, 3 February 1922

The Treaty recognises the essential unity of Ireland by constituting the Irish Free State the authority for all Ireland in the first instance. It admits also the fact that a minority in North-East Ireland has been hitherto opposed to recognising a common Irish Government. It provides, therefore, that if this minority deliberately votes itself out of the Irish Free State, the Irish Free State, although it would logically possess the right, would not forcibly exert its powers to prevent that vote having effect. It is a matter, not of logic, but of practical politics. It is governed by that letter of President de Valera to Mr. Lloyd George in which he declared he would not coerce Unionist Ulster. We shall not coerce Unionist Ulster, but equally we shall not permit Nationalist Ulster to be coerced. Against that part of Ulster which votes itself out of the Free State we shall not use force.

Against that part of Ulster which votes itself into the Free State we shall not permit unchallenged force to be used. Mr. Collins represents the unanimous attitude of the Provisional Government and the Dail Eireann Ministry. We want not only peace but brotherhood with our, at present, dissident countrymen. We seek for our Nationalist people in the North-East nothing but the equality of Irish citizenship and we offer frankly and sincerely to our Unionist fellow-countrymen in the North-East that same equality. We are at the beginning of an epoch - the rebirth of a nation - and we desire to sink the old distinctions of Unionist and Nationalist in the common name of Irishman, whether the Irishmen be of Dublin, Cork or Belfast.