British Lion No. 23 – February 1932

British Lion No. 23 – February 1932


As Ireland is so •very much in the public eye at the moment, I feel that a few words of explanation as to the conditions which obtain before and during a “free” Irish election.

The English are, by nature, a law-abiding nation. In England, if you want the public not to use a certain path, you merely place a small stick or cord across the said path, and all pedestrians, meekly turn aside and go another way. In Ireland, should you wish to block a path, you need to put up barb wire barricades, and then you will probably find that some bright lad has produced wire cutters and forced his way through!

The law, in Ireland, must be enforced with a very strong hand if it is not to be broken and the ordinary conventions of life count for nothing with a people who are half dreamers and half unsentimental materialists.

Only those who have been through the intimidation which is practised at a present-day Irish election can have any idea of the conditions.

It is not easy for a woman living alone in an isolated cottage to go to the polls and vote as her conscience dictates, if she knows that the I.R.A. have her under observation, and that it is more than probable that the night before the election her cow will be maimed, her windows broken by revolver shots, and that she herself will be hustled and probably injured as she attempts to enter the polling booth.

I was living just inside the Ulster border during the first post-war election, and was responsible for bringing many trembling elderly women voters to the polls. Being loyalists, they would have stood no chance of recording their votes had we not fetched them from their outlying homes, and literally fought our- way through the members of the I.R.A. who lined the steps of the school where the voting was taking place, with the avowed- intention of preventing loyalists from recording their votes.

The outline of a 4.50 colt, worn beneath a thin coat is a useful barrier against terrorism, and the only one which gains- any respect from the lawless element in Ireland, where pacifism and conciliation are merely counted as weakness.