Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Notes from the Seanad, 1934

In 1934, in the middle of the 'Economic War', when Ireland stopped paying Britain compensation for land confiscated and redistributed to tenant farmers, and Britain reacted by placing a 20% duty on food imports from Ireland, crippling the Irish economy and resulting in mass emigration, the Special Branch killed a group of protesting farmers.
In the Seanad debate, Kildare Senator Richard Wilson spoke, in terms that could be replicated today:
It is not political bias or political conspiracy that is at the bottom of this unrest. The farmers would pay their way if they were able, and as they have always done, and it is not to make any political capital out of this situation that I am speaking here to-day.  
I am urging the Seanad to ask the Government to set up a tribunal to examine the situation. I have stated the case in a rough and ready way, and I will just finish my remarks by a reference to the payments which are being extracted at the present time on the basis of the low prices. Last year the British collected from the farmers of this country £4,500,000. 
The Free State Government collected in land annuities £2,000,000. That is £6,500,000 collected, and out of that they gave in bounties £1,750,000 leaving a sum of £4,750,000 net loss to the farmers. That, in fact, is more than all the annuities and the other moneys that are in dispute. 
The farmers have to pay that money out of produce which they are selling 20 per cent. below pre-war prices. 
If civil servants who get a bonus were suddenly to find themselves deprived of that bonus, and, in addition, if they were to find their wages cut 20 per cent. below pre-war level, what would they say about it? If the Guards or the servants of the local authorities, the school teachers or the artisans—if all these people had their remuneration reduced to the same extent as that to which the farmer's remuneration is reduced, surely we must all agree that the farmers are really mild in their protests in comparison with the protests that would be made by those people?

 Lucille Redmond's ebook, Love, gripping dark and funny stories of love and revolution, is available on Amazon and iTunes

No comments: