On Ireland and the Empire

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On Ireland and the Empire is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in The Freeman's Journal on 3 august 1914.

On Ireland and the Empire

The Freeman's Journal (3 august 1914, p. 5)

To the Editor of the Freeman's Journal.

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex,
August 1st, 1914.

Sir, — The chief point which has divided Protestant Ulster from the rest of Ireland, and which has made many non-Protestant Irishmen lukewarm on the subject of Home Rule, is their contention that Nationalists have never been loyal to the Empire. The Empire is in no sense an English thing. Scotch and Irish have combined in the building of it, and have an equal pride and interest in its immense future. There is no possible reason why a man should not be a loyal Irishman and a loyal Imperialist also. Should this view be generally and heartily accepted in the South and West of Ireland the most serious difficulties which stand in the way of complete Home Rule would vanish in an instant.

If Ireland were alone in the Atlantic she would be at the absolute mercy of any European Power which chose to blockade her. No bravery upon the part of Irishmen could prevent her from being the victim of the Fleet of any one of the Great Powers. Her larger neighbour stands between her and such a disaster, and at her back she has the whole force of the Empire to preserve her from such a menace. Therefore it is right and proper that she should herself be a loyal member of this community apart from any changes which she may reasonably desire in her own methods of government.

There is no doubt that a whole-hearted declaration of loyalty to the common ideal would at the present moment do much to allay the natural fears of Ulster and to strengthen the position of Ireland. Such a chance is unlikely ever to recur. I pray that the Irish leaders may understand its significance, and find themselves in a position to take advantage of it.

Yours faithfully,