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Thursday, 2 June 1921

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I have received from the honorable member for Barrier the intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance;' viz., " The' menace to the world's peace involved in the growing estrangement between the United States of America and the. British Empire, due in part to the awful state of affairs existing in Ireland under the British occupation, as depicted in the report of the American Commission on . Conditions in Ireland."

Mr.CONSIDINE (Barrier) [2.38].- In its issue of the 25th September last the New York Nation, a newspaper of international standing, which exercises an immense influence in. the moulding of public opinion in the United States of America, published the following editorial under the caption, "No War with England":-

It is because they believe that war between England and the United States would be the greatest calamity which could befall the civilized world, andbecuase they feel that the two countries are rapidly drifting apart, that the editors of The Nation have invited one hundred of their fellow-citizens to form a committee to investigate, through a commission, the charges and counter-charges of atrocities in Ireland. The case of Mayor McSwiney, and the other hunger strikers, has stirred this country profoundly. So conservative a newspaper as the Chicago Tribune declares that the "Irish situation seriously involves the United States, and the case of McSwiney is the Irishquestion just now at its highest point of drama." This, the most powerful newspaper of the Middle West, declares that if McSwiney starves to death this blunder "might conceivably affect the peace of the world." The words are ominously like those used by President McKinley; and the interventionists in Cuba in 1898, who maintained that the United States could not tolerate such terrible conditions at its door......

The Nationthen sent the following telegram to fill themembers of the "United States Senate, many members of the House of Representatives, the Governors of all the States, the mayors of about seventy-five leading cities, the editors of about twenty leading newspapers, including such papers as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Transcript, the Philadelphia. Ledger, the Pittsburg Leader, some thirty-five heads of universities or colleges and professors, Bishops of the Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal, and Methodist Episcopal churches, a large number of heads of unions and labour 'organizations', and men and women in other walks of life : -

The struggle between Great Britain and Ireland, which has gone for many months with increasing use of armed force. by both parties, is widely reported to be accompanied 'by atrocities planned by British. Government and answered- in kind by Irish people. One grave result is rapid growth oftanti-British feeling which seriously threatens . unspeakable calamity of war between United States and Great Britain and endangers peace of the world. In the interest of peace and international' friendship the editors of TheNation earnestly invite you to serve as a member non-partisan committee of representative Americans with power to add to their number, who shall designate a select commission to sit at Washington or elsewhere for impartial investigation of reported atrocities in Ireland, regarding, which the British Ambassador and Professor De Valera, and others, shall be invited to submit evidence. Proposal does not contemplate any recommendation regarding future relations between Great Britain and Ireland.

The Nation'sinvitation resulted in the acceptance by such a large number of those circularized, that the Committee of one hundred had to be . enlarged' forthwith to a Committee of150, comprising five Governors of States, ten United States Senators, twelve Congressmen, the mayors of fifteen cities, two Judges, two Jewish Rabbis, sevenProtestant Episcopalian Bishops, four Methodist Episcopalian Bishops-, the Cardinal; an Archbishop and four Roman Catholic Bishops, eleven labour union officials, an ex-ambassador, many ex-Governorsand ex-senators, educationists; editors and proprietors of newspapers,, and other prominent citizens of- the United States. A ballot taken by this Committee of 150 resulted in the election of thefollowing persons to serve as a Commission to inquire into the conditions in Ireland: -

JANE ADDAMS. - As a worker, lecturer, and writer for social betterment, she has won a reputation that makes her one of the most distinguished women in the world, one who has never refused a call to high public service. For over thirty years' Miss Addams has been head of Hull House, Chicago. She is Chairwoman of the Women's PeaceParty, and of the International Committee for Permanent Peace, and in 1910 served as President of the International Congress of Women, held in Switzerland.

JOSEPH WINGATE FOLK.- A native of Tennessee; his public career has been largely identified with the State of Missouri. He won his . Spurs as circuit attorney, in St. Louis, by fearlessly exposing political corruption. He was subsequently elected Governor by the State on the democratic ticket by a large. majority in a Republican year. His record as Governor stands as one of the particularly bright spots in American political life. During the Wilson Administration he served for a time as solicitor for the State Department, and since 1914 has been chief counsel for the Inter-State Commerce Commission. He is also general counsel for the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.

JAMES H.MAURER.- For many years he has been President of the 'Pennsylvania State Federation of Labour. He is known as an authority on labour conditions and problems, and is a power in the progressive wing of the American Federation of Labour. Mr.Maurer hag. served several' terms as a member of the Pennsylvania State Legislature for the Reading district.

FREDERICK CLEMSON HOWE. - He is one of ' the foremost American authorities on economic and. social subjects, particularly on taxation and municipal government He has been Professor of Law at the Cleveland College of Law, Lecturer on Taxation at Western. University, and Lecturer on Municipal Administration and Politics at the University of Wisconsul. He has held several public offices, including that of Commissioner of Immigration at the Port of New York, from 1914 to 1919. He rendered conspicuous service as an expert on international affairs attached to the American delegation at the Peace Conference.

DAVID I. WALSH. - He has had a notable public career in his native State. Admitted to the Bar in 1S97, he began his public service as a moderator at town meetings, was elected to the Massachusetts . House of Representatives, and served subsequently as LieutenantGovernor and Governor. He was chosen as delegate at large to the Massachusetts Convention in 1917. His term as a United States senator began last year, and as a new member his vigorous personality immediately made itself felt, "lt I considered my. personal desires, I would decline the service offered," he wired The Nation, " but the patriotic and humanitarian aspects of this service compel me to forget self. I will servo with other members who will undertake this work with open mind and without prejudice of any kind."

Subsequently, the following were added to the Commission: - Rev. Norman Thomas, of New York; Major Oliver P. Newman, of "Washington, D.C.; Senator George W. Morris, of Nebraska. The Commission applied to the British authorities so that no obstacle would be placed in the way of witnesses desiring to give evidence, and received a formal assurance from the British Ambassador that no person would be refused a passport on the ground that he or she desired to give evidence on either side. Subsequently, the British Ambassador, on 23rd October, 1920, wrote to the -secretary of this Commission, and concluded his letter with the following words: -

I may add that nothing will be done by the British Government to encourage the holding of this inquiry, or to assist witnesses to appear before the Committee. (Signed) Auckland Geddes.

Tn response to an inquiry, by the Chicago

Tribune, Mr. De'Valera, the President of the Irish Republic, said he welcomed the inquiry, but did not believe the British Government would facilitate evidence being placed before the Commission, and that owing to the command of the sea being held by the British Navy, it would be very difficult for witnesses to give evidence in the United States free from molestation, and also that there was no guarantee that when the witnesses returned to Ireland, they would not be made the object of fury of the army of occupation. The Commission held its first sitting at the Hotel Lafayette, "Washington, D.C., on 18th November, 1920, when the chairman (Commissioner Howe), made the following statement: -

This is the first session of the hearings of the American Commission on Ireland. The motives which call this Commission into existence and its purposes as formulated by the Commission are as follow:-

He then repeated what had practically been stated by the editors of The Nation in the leading article referred to, when they sought to bring this Commission into existence. Thirty-eight witnesses were examined by the Commission at Washington, consisting of English men and women, Scotchmen, and American and Irish people, and including five members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, with service in Ireland extending from two months to thirteen years. As the result of their investigations the Commission sought permission from the British Embassy to send a delegation to visit Ireland, but were refused passports by the British Government. In consequence, the Commission was not able to proceed either to Great Britain or to Ireland in order to conduct its investigations personally on the spot. It dealt, however, with a great mass of testimony that was secured from British official reports, statistics, and parliamentary papers, and the report of the British Labour Mission to Ireland. On 6th April the Commission published its unanimous findings as follows : -

We fmd that the Irish people are deprived of the protection of British law to which they would be entitled as subjects of the British King. They are likewise deprived of the moral protection granted by international law, to which they would be entitled as belligerents. They are at the mercy of Imperial British Forces, which, acting contrary both to all law and to all standards of human conduct, have instituted in Ireland a "terror," the evidence regarding which, seems to prove that -

1.   The Imperial British Government has created and introduced into Ireland a Force of at least 78,000 men, many of them youthful and inexperienced, and some of them convicts; and has incited that Force to unbridled violence.

2.   The Imperial British Forces in Ireland have indiscriminately, killed innocent men, women a.nd children; have discriminately .assassinated persons suspected of being Republicans; have tortured and shot prisoners whilst In custody, adopting the subterfuge of " refusal to halt," and " attempting to escape " ; and have attributed to alleged " Sinn Fein extremists'" the British assassination of prominent Irish Republicans.

3.   House burning and wanton destruction of villages and cities by Imperial British Forces under Imperial British officershave been countenanced and ordered by officials of the British Government; and elaborate provisions by gasoline sprays and bombs have been made in a number of instances for systematic incendiarism as part of a plan of terrorism.

4.   A campaign for the destruction of the means of existence of the Irish people has been conducted by the burning of factories; creameries, crops, and farm implements, and the shooting of farm animals. This campaign is carried on regardless of the political views of their owners, and results in widespread and acute suffering among women and children.

5.   Acting under a series of proclamations issued by the competent military authorities of the Imperial British Forces, hostages are carried by Forces exposed to the fire of a Republican Army; fines are levied upon towns and villages as punishments for alleged offences of individuals; private property is destroyed in reprisals for acts with which the owners have no connexion; and the civilian population is subjected to an inquisition upon the theory that individuals are in possession of information valuable to the Military Forces of Great Britain. These acts of the Imperial British Forces are contrary to the laws of peace or war among modern civilized nations.

6.   This " terror " has failed to re-establish Imperial British civil government in Ireland. Throughout the greater part of Ireland British Courts have ceased to function; local, county, and city Governments refuse to recognise British authority; and British civil officials fulfil no function of service to the- Irish people.

7.   In spite of the British "terror," the majority of the Irish people, having sanctioned by ballot the Irish Republic, give their allegiance to it, pay taxes to it, and respect the decisions of its Courts and of its civil officials.

A supplementary report deals with the religious issues in Ireland in an equally plain and admirable fashion, as follows : -

Outside of a part of Ulster, Catholics and Protestants live in peace and harmony, and their political opinions are not primarily a matter of religion.

Even. in Ulster, religious bigotry is not by any means wholly spontaneous, but is artificially stirred up by those whose economic and political interests are served by dividing the people.

While it obviously lies beyond our province to pass final judgment upon the various aspects of the Ulster issue, we have not only a right, but a duty as American Protestants, to denounce the degradation of religion by such pogroms as occurred last summer. Upon this wo owe it to our fellow religionists, both in America and in Ulster, to speak plainly.

Those were the conclusions of these representative American citizens - the findings of a Commission, as is stated in its report, composed of American Protestants, who felt it their duty to appeal to their co-religionists in Ulster and in the United States to put . an end to the damnable state of affairs that has . been in existence in Ireland since the right of the Irish people to determine their, own destiny in accordance with their own ideas and aspirations has been attempted to be smothered by armed forces at the dictation of the Imperial Government. The findings of this representative American Commission have been proved up to the hilt by statements made by no less an authority than General Sir Hubert De La Poer Gough, a military officer who, at thetime of the threatened Ulster rebellion in Ireland, resigned his commission sooner than be a party to using armed forces against the Ulster people. He has expressed himself in such language as the following : -

The Union has failed irrevocably, and after long trial. Law and order has given place to a bloody and brutal anarchy, in which the armed agents of the Crown violate every law in aimless and vindictive and insolent savagery. Is there a single Irishman or woman whose blood does not boil at these things, and who does not demand the end of English rule, and the right of the Irish to govern themselves?

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I rise to order. I direct your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable member has been reading for the last twenty minutes. He. has been doing nothing but read.

Mr Considine - That is not true.

Sir Robert Best - Vile and hideous slanders on the Empire, too!

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The honorable member has not made two words of comment since he rose, and I submit to you that he is not making a speech, hut is taking advantage of his privileges in the House, to read a document in extenso. For twenty minutes he has readreports, and I submit that he may not do so.

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