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“Sinn Feiner Gets 15 Years In Prison,” Toronto Globe. September 28, 1918. Page 07.

J. E. Plant’s Sentence Of Death Is Commuted – ‘Conchy’ Given 10 Years.

(Canadian Press Despatch.)
Niagara Camp, Sept. 27. – The first drafted man in camp to be sentenced to death by the general court-martial is John Edward Plant of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Central Ontario Regiment, whose sentence was promulgated this afternoon at a garrison parade. His sentence, however, has been commuted to fifteen years’ imprisonment in the penitentiary at Kingston, and this was read at the promulgation by Captain Roy Parke, Adjutant of the 2nd Battaltion, 2nd C.O.R. Plant is a Sinn Feiner, and refused to perform military service in any capacity.

Johnston Marks of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd C.O.R., who is a conscientious objector and refused to put on uniform, was sentenced to penitentiary for ten years.

Col. K. I. McLaren, Camp Commandant, was in charge of the parade for the promulgation of the sentences.

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“More Objectors Placed On Trial,” Toronto Globe. August 1, 1918. Page 10.

Three Men Before the General Court-martial at Niagara Camp

One A Sinn Feiner

Another an Austrian Who Is Ready to Do Service at Home

(Canadian Press Despatch.)
Niagara Camp, July 31. – A general court-martial was held here this morning, when Lieut.-Col. A. J. McCausland, of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd C.O.R., presided at the trial of two men, Sherman S. Babcok and Joseph Toorish of the 1st Battalion, 2nd C.O.R. Lieut.-Col. G. L. Francis of the Railway Troops Depot presided at the trial of a third man, Paul Joseph Forst of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd C.O.R. in place of Col. McCausland, as Forst is a member of Col. McCausland’s battalion. The other members of the court sat throughout the trial of the three accused, and were: Major F. P. Myles, Major A. A. McKenzie, Capt. W. R. S. Richardson, Capt. L. H. Bertram and Lieut.-Col. J. A. MacDonald, Judge Advocate. The prosecutors were Major S. H. Bastick and Major C. P. Mackenzie.

Babcock and Forst are conscientious objectors, and Toorish is a Sinn Feiner who was charged with having ‘willfully defied authority’ by refusing to put on the King’s uniform, and having declared that he would not fight for the British, who had killed his people in the Sinn Fein rebellion in Dublin in 1916.

Reads Statement of Views.
Toorish is a big fellow, of good education, a native of Dublin, a confessed Sinn Feiner and an office clerk. He had written a lengthy statement of his views on the question of Great Britain’s treatment of Ireland and the people of the south of Ireland, and his reasons for refusing to don the Khaki in behalf of the British and the other allies. This statement he was permitted to read, and it was put in as evidence in his defece. He said: ‘If the British Government had put Herbert Asquith’s Home Rule Bill into effect, Ireland would not be in her present position of antagonism to the British. The Sinn Fein rebellion in Dublin in 1916 was the direct outcome, and I believe the rebellion was justified.’

Toorish feelingly referred to a lady who was very dear to him, and whose life was to have been linked to his, whose death he said was due to British bullets. ‘The cause she died for,’ he said, ‘is a good enough cause for me to die for too.’

Casement and Carson.
Toorish cited the difference in the treatment of Sir Roger Casement and Sir Edward Carson, the first named ‘a loyal Irish gentleman,’ having been shot in the Tower of London, and Carson admitted to the British Cabinet, though both men were in the same boat, so far as their connection with the Germans had been concerned. Toorish positively refused to recede from his position of opposition to the British Government, and expressed himself ready to be ‘sacrificed’ for his opinions.

Disclaims Pro-German Sympathy.
Toorish is a native of Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland, and before coming to Canada nine years ago was a student at Dublin University. He has resided in Toronto several years. He was candid enough to admit that his sympathies were not with the British in this war, though two of his brothers were fighting with the British. However, he would not admit being a pro-German. He was loyal to Ireland, he said, and he was a Sinn Feiner.

John Doughtery, 425 Annette street, Toronto, and Daniel Roughan, 98 1/3 Bellwoods avenue, Toronto, both natives of Ireland, gave character evidence on Toorish’s behalf.

Professes Conscientious Objector.
Sherman S. Babcock pleaded guilty to the charge of having refused to put on the uniform. ‘I am a child of God,’ he said in his defence, ‘and I feel that it is against the Lord’s will that I should kill anybody.’ He declared that he would not obey the Military Law, and would take what punishment was in store for him as a result of his stand.

Babcock is 22 years of age, and a harnessmaker by trade. He said he did not belong to any sect whose tenets forbade him performing military service.

Objector, Not an Enemy.
Paul Joseph Forst, an Austrian, who was naturalized, had refused to put on the uniform, and claimed that it was because of his religious belief that he would not take part in military affairs, not because of his Austrian origin. He professed to be willing to do work for the military cause, but said he would not wear the uniform. He based his religious belief on books published by the Ecteric Society in California, he said.

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“So what happened to the promise of equality in the Proclamation of the Irish Republic read out on Easter Monday 1916 by the poet and rebel leader Patrick Pearse, and addressed to “Irishmen and Irishwomen”? The proclamation declared an end to British rule but it also guaranteed religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities for all citizens. It made a commitment to universal suffrage, extraordinary for the time, and two years before women in Britain won the vote.

So how did the document’s message become stifled by a conservative culture obsessed with female chastity and purity, and so terrified of glimpsing the outlines of a woman’s body that in the 1950s we were still condemned to conceal ourselves in voluminous cardigans? How did that dream of a radical, free Ireland give way in the succeeding years to Holy Ireland, where generations of women felt they had to hide themselves away?

Historians now tell us that there was a tussle to have women included so pointedly in the proclamation. It was a struggle won by James Connolly – socialist, trade union leader and head of the Irish Citizen Army – and by Constance Markievicz, the prominent feminist and socialist. But even two years later in the general election of 1918, when Sinn Féin swept the boards, it was clear that socialists and feminists had been pushed aside. Most of the dreamers and visionaries had been shot in 1916, and a more pragmatic and conservative leadership concentrated totally on the nationalist goal of separation from the UK. The Irish Labour movement decided to stand aside in 1918 so as not to split the nationalist vote, and the only woman elected was Markievicz.

However, the real change that occurred between 1916 and 1918 was that the Roman Catholic church had finally come on board to back the rebel cause. The church didn’t like radical movements, and individual senior church men actually condemned the 1916 Easter Rising. But anger at the execution of the rising’s leaders swung public opinion firmly behind the rebels, and the Catholic church, ever pragmatic, quietly changed its stance.

The church was by far the largest and most powerful institution in the new Irish state that would emerge six years after the rebellion, and was determined to shape it. The first Free State government tried in its first constitution to reflect a pluralist state, but in Eamon de Valera’s 1937 constitution the church was given a special position, and its social teachings were enshrined. Contraception and divorce were expressly banned – and women were told to stay at home.”

– Olivia O’Leary, “Why, 100 years after the Easter Rising, are Irish women still fighting?Guardian. Opinion, March 25, 2016.

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