Military Rule in Ireland



Erskine Childers escribe ocho artículos (Military Rule in Ireland) en el Daily News opinando sobre la intervención militar británica en Irlanda. Al final Dublin Castle y lettre de cachet



I am asked to give my opinion of the military régime in Ireland. I give it as one who lives under that régime, and also as a soldier with a varied experience of regular war and an instinctive regard for its decencies and chivalries. For a military régime, direct to the suppression of civil and national liberty, though it is conducted under the forms of what is called “law,” is nonetheless a war, with an organized army on one side, and a civil population, physically well-nigh helpless, spiritually indomitable, on the other.
Now it is impossible for those who levy such a war to make it respectable. It is disreputable and cowardly against the weak for a base and selfish end –the military domination of a people rightly struggling to be free. It may be true that some wars have ennobling effects even upon the conqueror; this kind of war has none. Even to the weaker side, with all the heroisms and sacrifices it evokes, measured in thousands of lives and careers wrecked or impaired for principle´s sake, it is impossible to escape from that tragically subtle demoralization which comes to a people bludgeoned into silence by the law, driven underground to preserve its national organization, and forced under intolerable provocation into desperate reprisals. But to the stronger side, to the army, and the nation responsible for the army, there is no compensation: the war is solely and wholly degrading.


The Service of Dublin Castle.
The Army has to act as the instrument of Dublin Castle. Is that an honourable role? The instrument of what is nominally a centre of civil government –if a fantastic medley of irresponsible Boards can be called a Civil Government –but what is actually little more than a Central Police Bureau whose main energies have come to be absorbed in spying upon, terrorizing, and persecuting the people under its charge; the last survivor, moreover, in the modern democratic world, of those hateful institutions for repressing a subject nation, and bidding fair to rival all its old competitors, Vienna, Petersburg, Budapest, and the rest. Hence emanates a stream of proclamations proscribing anything and everything with a national tendency. Here is the nerve centre of a vast and elaborate system of political espionage, necessary where the political opinions of the great mass of the people are criminal under the law. Here converge a thousand rivulets of secret intelligence, the reports of a host of spies, informers, and agents provocateurs, and hence issues a corresponding flood of orders for raids, searches, secret inquisitions and arrests, and of those infamous lettres de cachet for imprisonment on suspicion without charge or trial which are the last resort of terrorist governments. Only five of these untried suspects were found in the Bastille when it was stormed. Hundreds are now in Irish and English gaols by order of the Castle.

A Soldier´s Duty in Ireland
Such is the master to be served. What of the service? Broadly speaking, the Army must go where the police go and do what the police do (with certain somber contingent responsibilities in the background, where the police sink into insignificance). For in Ireland the centralized armed Constabulary, miscalled the “police,” instead of protecting the civil population, have to be protected from them, so tyrannical and provocative are the duties which these unhappy but courageous officers of the law are forced by the Castle to perform. So the soldiers –their comrades in ignominy –must scour cities, villages, and country districts in lorries, tanks, or armoured cars on a constant round of suppressions and raids, raids and suppressions. They must suppress every conceivable kind of meeting, political and social gatherings, fairs, concerts, sports, language-classes, newspapers, printing-plants; they must even hunt from pillar to post a non-party Economic Commission because it is organized by a Republican; they must even help to kidnap children at the school door and turn back with a bayonet old women coming to market their fowls. Fixed bayonets and trench helmets at all these “operations.” So, too, at the raids, which proceed without cessation at all hours of the day and night, on private houses, shops, business offices, trains, in one case a bank… (Military Rule in Ireland, by Erskine Childers)
Dublin Castle, 1905
Dublin Castle, 1905

Vocabulario
Well-nigh: almost, nearly.
Bludgeoned: attacked, bullied.
Constabulary: an armed police force organized like a military unit.

Para saber
Dublin Castle fue hasta 1922 el centro de la administración del gobierno del Reino Unido en Irlanda. La mayoría data del siglo 18, aunque un castillo estuvo en el lugar desde el rey Juan, el primer Lord de Irlanda.
Lettre de cachet: (lit. letters of the sign) fueron cartas firmadas por el rey de Francia, para obligar a acciones arbitrarias y juzgamientos que no podían ser apelados.

Artículos relacionados
Riddle of the Sands, resumen de la novela