Split over Dev’s Views

Posted By: March 02, 2020

 On This Day [in Irish history]

The Irish News, March 3, 1920


Eamon Phoenix. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The interview with Mr. Eamon de Valera [President of Dáil Eireann, now touring North America] by the American correspondent of the Westminster Gazette has sparked controversy in the US. In the course of the interview, Mr de Valera said: ‘The United States, by the Monroe Doctrine, made provision for its security without depriving the Southern Latin Republics of their independence. The US safeguarded itself from the possible use of the Cuba island as a base of attack by a foreign power by stipulating that the Cuban Government shall never enter into any treaty or another compact with any foreign power which shall impair or tend to impair Cuban independence … Why doesn’t Britain do with Ireland as the US did with Cuba? … The people of Ireland, so far from objecting, would cooperate with their whole soul.’

Mr. John Devoy [the leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in the US]  objected to Mr de Valera’s proposition: ‘If England should “declare Monroe Doctrine for the neighboring island” and “the Irish people would cooperate with their whole soul”, it would amount to an Anglo-Irish alliance which would perpetuate England’s mastery of the seas and would thus align Ireland against the United States in, say, a war with Japan. Irishmen in America cannot contemplate such a possibility …

‘Every dollar subscribed either to the Victory Fund or the Irish Loan [raised by Dáil Eireann] was given on the distinct understanding that the policy enunciated in Dublin on January 21, 1919, and reaffirmed for America in Philadelphia on February 23, 1919, would be firmly adhered to. Any fundamental change now would be a breach of faith and would bring defeat and disaster.’  (De Valera’s promotion of the so-called ‘Cuban analogy’ as a means of winning British acceptance of Irish independence split his Irish-American supporters  and alienated the powerful faction led by  Devoy (the Kildare-born Fenian Chief’) and Judge Daniel Cohalan.)