New Nationalist Leader

Posted By: March 12, 2018

 On This Day [in Irish history]
 Irish News, March 13, 1918
New Nationalist Leader

Eamon Phoenix. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, March 13, 2018

            At the adjourned meeting of the Irish Parliamentary Party held in the Mansion House, Dawson Street, Dublin yesterday evening, Mr. John Dillon was unanimously elected to Chairman in place of the late Mr. John E Redmond – a decision that will be hailed with satisfaction by Nationalists throughout the whole of Ireland.

            Mr. Joseph Devlin proposed the election of Mr. John Dillon as Chairman of the Party and Mr. Thomas Condon; MP seconded the motion which was carried unanimously.

            John Dillon was born in Blackrock, County Dublin in 1851. He is the son of John Blake Dillon, one of the leaders of the Young Ireland movement and one of the trio of distinguished and patriotic Irishmen who founded the famous Nation newspaper. He was educated in the University School, Dublin and is intended for the medical profession, took the degree of licentiate in the College of Surgeons. Politics, however, claimed him at a comparatively early age. When John Mitchel [the Newry-based Young Irelander] returned to Ireland, John Dillon was one of the first to welcome him at Queenstown. The famous Newry man had been one of the oldest friends of his father, and the younger Dillon took an active part in securing the return of Mitchel at the Tipperary election [1875].

            When the ‘New Policy’ (adumbrated by Parnell) John Dillon was quick to appreciate the possibilities, and he was one of the keenest lieutenants of the new leader who replaced Isaac Butt in 1879. In 1880, Mr. Dillon was elected as and accompanied Parnell on the historic visit to America following the starting of the Land League. In 1885 he was returned for East Mayo, the seat he holds today.

            During the height of the Land League agitation, Mr. Dillon suffered imprisonment and was one of the most vigorous and uncompromising advocates of the people’s cause. When the unfortunate Parnellite Split rent the movement, Mr. Dillon took a strong line in favor of the change of leadership and for a time before the reunion of the Party in 1900 he occupied the chair of the Anti-Parnell Nationalist section. A man of obvious sincerity and great talent, he never fails to impress audiences no matter in what part of Ireland he speaks. He possesses behind an ascetic demeanor a wealth of great qualities. But while engaged all his life on the rough and occasionally fierce conflict of politics, he has always maintained a reputation for intellectual keenness. (John Dillon (1851-1927), more astute in many ways than Redmond, would prove the last leader of the Irish Party, defeated by de Valera in the 1918 general election which eradicated his party.)