It is a pleasure to me that my first duty should be to convey your thanks and the thanks, in your name, of the people of Ireland to those leaders who have brought this movement to its present condition, when, rather than have voting between them, they retired in order that we might strengthen the new position which we occupya position in which we tell the world that we want no connection with England. The only particular value in having me here is this. In the contested election of Clare the people of Clare did me the honour of choosing me as their representative. I stood then for the policy which is the aim of the new organisation. That policy was endorsed by the free votes of the electors of East Clare, and by electing me unanimously here, you, the people of Ireland, have endorsed the voice of the people of East Clare, and declared to the world that the policy which we put before the people of East Clare is the policy of the people of all Ireland.
The Constitution of this new movement which you have adopted is one which it may be well to lay stress on. It says that this organisation of Sinn Féin aims at securing international recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish Republic. That is what I stand for, what I stood for in East Clare and it is because I stand for that that I was elected here. I said in East Clare when I was elected that I regarded that election as a monument to the dead. I regard my election here as a monument to the brave dead, and I believe that this is proof that they were right, that what they fought forthe complete and absolute freedom and separation from Englandwas the pious wish of every Irish heart.
They said: We know that is the opinion of the people of Ireland. We know that in going out to fight the British Empire, small in numbers though we are, we are asserting to the world that Ireland is a nation, and that Ireland has never agreed to become a subject nation or a part of the British Empire. They said: We know, and the people of Ireland, that the people of Ireland are kept from expressing their views simply by the naked sword of England. England pretends it is not by the naked sword, but by the good will of the people of this country, that she is here. We will draw the naked sword to make her bare her own naked sword, to drag the hypocritical mask off her face, and to show her to the world for what she is, the accursed oppressor of nations. These glorious men did what they felt they were quite justified in doing. They said: What we aim at is the freedom of the people of Ireland. We are not a mere party here or a small section. We represent in our hearts the solid, sensible opinion
p.918of Irishmen and if we are to win that freedom the first step in that battle must be to get the people of Ireland themselves determined to win it; and even though the first battle in that political fight might be a military defeat it will lead to final success. That has ever been in my mind their moral justification.
[gap: ellipsis]This Constitution that we are setting up says we are striving to get international recognition for our Irish Republic, and there is an added clause to it which I would like to explain, that, having achieved that status, the Irish people may by referendum freely choose their own forms of government. This is not the time for this, for this reason, that the only banner under which our freedom can be won at the present time is the Republican banner. It is as an Irish Republic that we have a chance of getting international recognition. Some of us would wish, having got that recognition, to have a Republican form of government. Some might have fault to find with that and prefer other forms of government. This is not the time for discussion on the best forms of government. But we are all united on thisthat we want complete and absolute independence. Get that and we will agree to differ afterwards. We do not wish to bind the people to any form of government. Some of my friends may have different opinions from mine on forms of government.
This is not the time for that; this is the time to get freedom. Then we can settle by the most democratic means what particular form of government we may have. I only wish to say in reference to the last clause that there is no contemplation in it of having a Monarchy in which the Monarch would be of the House of Windsor.
We say it is necessary to be united under the flag under which we are going to fight for our freedom: the flag of the Irish Republic. We have nailed that flag to the mast; we shall never lower it. I ask you all to salute that flag, nailed to the mast, which we shall never lowerto salute the flag and in Grattan's words to say Esto perpetua.