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MR. S. PLIMSOLL ON IRISH AFFAIRS On Monday evening Mr. S. Plimsoll (formerly M.P. for Derby) addressed a meeting in the Temperance Hall, Derby, on the question of Home Rule. Mr. Plimsoll, who was most cordially received, said that he had no idea whatever, until very recently, of taking any part in the public discussion of the Home Rule question, but recently the acts of the executive Government had rapidly succeeded each other-so utterly repugnant to all one's ideas of justice-not to mention generosity or magnaminity, that he felt com- pelled to face the subject fairly and then decide upon his course. The considerations which had hitherto held him in doubt were these. It seemed to him that there would be great difficulty at the outset to frame such a measure of Home Rule as would satisfy the Irish members and at the same time have any chance of passing through the House of Com- mons. It appeared to him that to pass at all it would have to be so colourless as to leave us with the certainty to encounter further and fuller demands after a short interval. The great difficulty, too, of settling the monetary arrangements between Ireland and England he thought would be very great, such as the appointment of the National Debt, how far Ireland should be required to undertake her own defence, and, if this was not required of her, what part of the cost of the army and navy she ought to bear. Even if these initial difficulties were overcome, the poverty of Ireland would probably in a short time lead to an agitation for the reduction of any amounts which had been agreed upon-even if her inability to pay arose from an unwise fiscal policy, or a defective or possibly corrnpt administration. Nor could he ignore the consideration of the objections used by the opponents of Home Rule, as that the contemplated Irish Parliament might levy duties upon our manufacturers, as Canada and other of our colonies had done-might even, exasperated as she was, seek alliance with France to embarrass England. (Hear, hear.) Then the fact that John Bright disapproved of Home Rule was a most impor- tant consideration to him, for he remembered with gratitude the vast services he had rendered to the nation in years gone by. There was also the difficulty of Ulster, which contained a large number of Pro- testants who were adverse to the legislation. He would tell the meeting how—in his intense desire to escape from the intolerable shame which had been brought upon us all by the recent acts of the Government-he had seen his way clear to dispose of these important matters. As to the first two of these objections, he said at once that he saw no other way of getting over them than in trusting to the statesmanship of Mr. Gladstone—(ap- plause)-and they knew he would not ask their trust if he did not see his way. (Renewed applause.) As to the third objection-the possible future difficulties of Home Rule-they must trust to Providence and the future, and deal with any difficulties as they arise and on their merits. "Be just and fear not" must be their motto. With regard to the fourth objection- that Ireland might possibly levy Protective duties on manufacturers-he had no fear whatever. He would now turn to the important fact of John Bright's hos- tility to Home Rule-a fact so influential with him that more than once when he was mentally deciding for Home Rule his (Mr. Bright's) example prevented his doing so. Most assuredly it did not arise from lack of love of justice that Mr. Bright was not with Mr. Gladstone in this matter, and that he was a tower of strength to the Tories-a tower so strong that it was his conviction his secession alone from the Tories would inevitably shatter the present Government. (Applause.) If Cobden had been living, he thought from a loving study of his life that he would have been on Mr. Gladstone's side. (Cheers.) And he (Mr. Plimsoll) did not despair of seeing Mr. Bright on that side yet. (Applause.) His position must be well- nigh intolerable-he knows that Free Trade is im- measurably more important than Home Rule, for whilst we could conceivably give content to Ireland without Home Rule (especially if they could put aside their religious intolerance against Roman Catholics), Mr. Bright knew-no one better-that a return to Pro- tection as it existed up to 1849 would send enforced idleness, gnawing 'hunger, gaunt famine, fever, disease, and death into the homes of the vast majority of our people. Then again, Mr. Bright's justice-loving soul must be revolted at what was now passing in Ireland. The speaker at some length then dealt with Irish affairs, and said these persecutors were commended to the country as statesmen, while if they possessed any particle of the quality of states- manship, would they insult and oppress our fellow- subjects ? The great and glorious task was in their own hands-to redress the injustice of centuries and to strike down the tyranny of to-day—to obliterate sullen hatred, and cast even the memory of the wrongs into the abyss of forgetfulness-by granting to their brethren in Ireland that control over Irish affairs which they now had over their own. (Ap- plause.)


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