Courtesy Reuters

Ireland Between Two Stools

POPULAR newspaper correspondents whose regular station is London are largely responsible for the misconception in this country of the position of Ireland in the present war. They have gone over to Dublin for a few days, stressed the absence of darkened streets and air raids, talked to a few very cautious officials, listened to ironical or jocular comments in bars and clubs, and have solemnly reported that the Irish are hopelessly, short-sightedly and incredibly irresponsible. The same story, more or less, was told during the last war, despite the fact that, without conscription, Ireland contributed some half a million men to the British army, afterwards organized a memorial to fifty thousand dead, and has today at least two hundred thousand ex-service survivors.

From these newspaper reports one rarely gathers that British troops are in Ireland -- Northern Ireland -- and that Britain is in complete control of that part of the island, where three famous Irish regiments have their headquarters. The six counties of Northern Ireland are actually at war with Germany. Yet, as in the previous war, although the Imperial Parliament is legally empowered to impose it, there is no conscription in these six counties. They were expressly excluded from the terms of the conscription act for the simple, if paradoxical, reason that Mr. de Valera objected. He pointed out that the 400,000 Catholics who compose one-third of the population of Northern Ireland would resist conscription. Thus once again was exposed the myth of the homogeneous loyal body in the North, the myth upon which the partition of Ireland was based.

However, while imperial defense is strictly within the province of the Imperial Parliament, local defense is a transferred power, controlled by the Belfast parliament. The late Lord Craigavon, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, decided to recruit the Ulster Defense Force, the equivalent of the Home Guard in the United Kingdom, as an auxiliary of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. This aroused criticism and complaints from all sections of opinion in Northern

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