Anti-Conscription meeting in Dublin

Anti-Conscription meeting in Dublin
An anti-recruitment cartoon by Ernest Kavanagh. John Redmond is seen urging a Volunteer to join the colours saying: ‘The Empire (which denies you Home Rule) needs you.’ Originally published in the Irish Worker.Photo: Joseph McGarrity Collection. Digital Library@Villanova University

Dublin, 5 July 1915 – The rise in opposition to the prospect of conscription being introduced in Ireland continued with a public meeting in Beresford Place in Dublin yesterday.

Amongst the speakers on the platform were the trade unionists and socialists William O’Brien and James Connolly, and the nationalists Thomas Kelly and Sean O’Kelly. Each speaker in turn condemned the plans to get all working men in Ireland to register their names, deriding it as the ‘thin end of the edge of conscription’.

Members of the Irish Citizens Army outside Liberty Hall in Dublin in late 1914 under a banner stating: ‘We serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland’. (Image: National Library of Ireland, Ke 198)

Thomas Kelly, a City Alderman, told the meeting that he had never made shells, but that if he were ever put to make them they would be for use against Britain, not Germany.

Will not follow ‘the traitor path’

Sean O’Kelly told the meeting that he was sure the British government would try and introduce conscription in Ireland. He said that they needed to show them that there was a large body of men in Ireland who would resist any such move. Mr. O’Kelly continued by saying that they would not follow the traitor path mapped out for them by John Redmond and his people.

Bulmer Hobson informed the crowd that the Irish Volunteers would continue to resist conscription in Ireland. (Image: National Library of Ireland, TC 16)

After the meeting had unanimously pledged to resist conscription, Bulmer Hobson announced that the General Council of the Irish Volunteers has re-iterated their commitment to resist any attempt to force the men of Ireland into military service until a free National Government is empowered by the Irish people themselves to deal with it.

[Editor’s note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

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