LETTER FROM THE O'MAHONY
IRELAND AND RECRUITING 31/07/1915
The following letter appeared in the Freeman's Journal of Monday: 31-7-1915.
24th July, 1915.
Dear Sir -
Lord Kitchener has told us he requires more men and still more men. We Irish Nationalists realise the liberty, civilisation, nationality, and everything which we Irishmen hold dear are at stake in this war. We are doing our utmost under the leadership of Mr John Redmond to support the Empire in this hour of trial. Since Whit Sunday I have addressed forty-one recruiting meeting in various parts of Ireland. Many other nationalists have done as much and some more. We have a right to be sympathetically supported, not only by the Government, but also by every Government Department, including the War office, which so far has shown a lamentable want of sympathetic tact as regards Ireland. In the "Times" of Friday, July 23rd, there is an article on recruiting in Ireland. The writer admits that proportionately Ireland has done well enough. I quite admit, however, that in the vital crisis "it is Ireland's duty to send to the front every able bodied man of military age who cannot as good or better work for the country at home," Alluding to the fact that the farming class in Ireland have not responded well to the appeal for men, the writer of the article says - "To suggest that they are cowards would be in a great majority of cases grossly unfair to them. They are often the brothers of men who joined the Irish Guards via the Royal Irish Constabulary. Sergeant O'Leary V.C., belongs to their class." The Royal Irish Constabulary has always been largely recruited form the farming class. If farmers' sons prefer to enter the army through that force would it not be common sense to allow them to do so? I am in formed on good authority that between 2,000 and 3,000 men at present in the R.I.C. are anxious to enlist in the Irish Guards. Instead of facilitating their enlistment the authorities are deliberately blocking the way. The can only enlist by resigning their position in the force, and so sacrificing all the right they have gained by many years' service. Ireland at present is the most peaceful and crimeless country in Europe, and yet the authorities seem to consider it necessary to keep up a force of armed police larger than that in any other country in the civilised world. If the authorities were to facilitate by every means in their power the transference of R.I.C. men to the Irish Guards, they could fill their places with men from the very class that we are told has not as yet responded to the call of arms. When these new R.I.C. recruits are trained and disciplined they would probably be as anxious to join the Irish Guards as their Predecessors. Recently I was interested in a National School teacher, who, in spite of an excellent record, is being forced to retire under the 65 Rule on pension to make room for a younger man. I ventured to suggest that as his record was good and he was capable of fulfilling his duties he should be allowed to do so during the period of the war. The final answer I received form the Board of National Education was - "In view of the very small number of teachers that have joined the Army or Navy there is no reason to anticipate any difficulty in filling Mr--'s place on account of the war, and they do not consider that relaxation of the 65 Rule would be desirable in present circumstances." In plain words that means, that as according to the Board the teachers have not realised the vital issue at stake, the board have decided to encourage them by every means in their power to continue in their unpatriotic position. It is not encouraging to those who are doing their utmost to get their fellow-countrymen to realise the seriousness of the present position to find their efforts blocked by Government Departments -