Evidence on Conditions in Ireland: Comprising the Complete Testimony, Affidavits and Exhibits Presented Before the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland

Commissioner Addams, presiding: I think the next witness is Mr. Furnas from Philadelphia. Mr. Furnas is going to put in a report of the investigation made by the English Quakers, the Society of Friends in England. They made an investigation of conditions in Ireland last October, was it? Mr. Furnas: The investigation was made the last part of Septem- ber, but made public in October. Commissioner Addams: We telegraphed the members of their Commission to come here, and they, unfortunately, were unable to do so. But Mr. Furnas was in London then, and he can state the conditions under which it was made. It was made by Englishmen. (Mr. Fumas takes the witness stand.) Q. Mr. Manly: For the sake of the record, will you give your name and address? A. Paul I. Furnas, 501 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Q. Senator Norris: Let him give his age and profession. A. I am treasurer of the General Food Products Company, and I am thirty years old. Where were you born? A. I was born in Marion County, Indiana. I am a Quaker by conviction.
Q. Were your parents Quakers? A. Yes. But in the hearings here, I appear as an individual and not representing any organization or the Society of Friends. I am simply able to give a statement as to who the Commission of the English Friends was composed of, and the circumstances under which they were appointed, and the circumstances under which they reported. Q. Mr. Manly: Will you state those facts, please? First, how the Commission came to be created. A. The Friends of England, known as the London Yearly Meet- ing of the Society of Friends, have an ad interim executive body which is known as the Meeting for Sufferings. That body in its September meeting appointed a commission of three— Q. Senator Norris: What year? A. September, 1920. Appointed a commission of three to go to Ireland and make an investigation and report back to that meet- ing. This commission was composed of John Henry Barlow, who was the chairman of the All Friends Conference, which was a world meeting of the Society of Friends in London in August of this year. He was formerly the presiding officer of the Society of Friends in England. He lives, I believe, in Birmingham. The second member of the commission was Roger Clark, who was an assistant chairman of the All Friends Conference held in London, and is the presiding officer, or what is known as the clerk of the London Yearly Meet- ing. The third member of the commission was Miss Edith M. Ellis, who is a prominent worker for peace in England and sister of Lady Palmore. These three people— Q. They are all English people? A. They are all English people, yes. This committee went to Ireland and met Irish Friends in Dublin. And then they proceeded to what I believe was approximately a two weeks’ investigation, which took them both to the north of Ireland and the south of Ireland. Q. Commissioner Newman: When was that? A. This was the latter part of September, 1920. At the Meeting for Sufferings held on the first day of October, 1920, in London, to which I have already referred, this committee made its report. Q. Mr. Manly: Do you know how long the committee was in Ireland? A. About two weeks. I have here a copy of the report which was written out by John Henry Barlow following the meeting, which covers substantially what I heard him say in that meeting. Q. Mr. Manly: He made the report for the committee? A. He was one of two who reported. Now, I shall follow what- ever course you indicate as to whether I shall read this report, or as to whether I shall simply identify it and leave it with you. Q. Commissioner Addams: Is it long, Mr. Furnas? A. It is four typewritten pages, written double space. Senator Norris: I think it ought to be read in full. Q. Commissioner Addams: Yes, read it. First, before you read it, is this report the report of the committee, or just of one member of the committee? Is it signed by anybody except the person who made it? A. I have here only a copy, but I heard it made, and can testify that it is, as stated, by the member of the committee. Q. Senator Norris: But what we want to get at is whether it is the report of the committee or just an individual. A. It is the report of the committee. Q. All right. They made an unanimous report, then? A. They did make an unanimous report. I should say that I have here a report written by John Henry Barlow and one written by Roger Clark. They are in agreement and are supplemental. This report, written by John Henry Barlow, was a few days after? wards published in the London Times—I believe the London Times of October fifth. He started out by saying:
“At its September Meeting the Executive Committee of the Society of Friends (England) had before it the disturbed condition of Ire- land. After serious consideration it was decided to send a deputa- tion to visit the country to gather facts and impressions and report to a subsequent meeting as to the possibility of relief, reconstruc- tion, and reconciliation. The deputation numbered three, of whom the writer was one. It may fairly be claimed that they went with open minds, anxious to receive light from whatever quarter it may shine. It is thought that some account of what was seen and what impressions were received may be of general interest.” That is his general introduction to what was made public. “The chief centers visited were Dublin, Belfast, Limerick, Cork, visits being made also from these to places in the neighborhood. Our interviews were with men of every shade of opinion—Unionists, Nationalists, Sinn Feiners, Protestants, Orangemen, Catholics, Labor leaders. They included members of Parliament, bishops, business men, university professors, members of the Sinn Fein cabinet, Sinn Fein judges, journalists, working men. Altogether we had about sixty interviews besides attending groups and conferences. Every- where we were received with unfailing courtesy and kindness, and every facility was given for carrying out our commission.
“First of all as to what we saw. On the surface Dublin was quiet, but while we were in the north, Mr. Lynch was shot in a Dublin hotel, and one or two encounters took place between the Irish Volunteers and the military. It was in Dublin that we had our first experience of the curfew, and received particulars of the burn- ing of the seventeen cooperative creameries. There, too, we found that there are two governments in Ireland, that of the Crown and that of the Irish Republic. Each has its cabinet, its executive, its armed force, its courts of justice. It is no exaggeration to say that eighty per cent, of Ireland renders allegiance to the Irish Republic, whether willingly or unwillingly, and that in that area the au- thority of the British Government rests upon force and not upon consent.
“In Belfast we saw something of the ruin caused by the recent outbreaks, but it was not until we visited Lisburn, a short distance from the city, that we began to understand how fierce the violence had been. House after house, shop after shop, burnt out com- pletely, in some cases not even the walls left standing. The marvel was how the flames had been kept from spreading and the whole town saved from destruction. In the outskirts were all that was left of one or two good houses, standing in their own grounds—bare walls and heaps of debris. Going to Limerick we found several ruined houses where the work of destruction had been carried out with extraordinary completeness. Painted in large letters on the walls left standing were such sentences as ‘The work of the Black- and Tans,’ ‘The work of the R.I.C.’ In Kerry Street, which had been raided but not burned, we found that practically every window, both glass and woodwork, had been smashed, doors burst open, and furniture, ornaments, earthenware—in fact, everything break- able—included in one common destruction. The accounts given were most graphic. Here it was a woman showing the remains of cherished ornaments and looking glass; there another lamenting over the shattered remnants of a wardrobe; and again another pointing to a plaster cast of the Virgin and rejoicing that it had been spared. Leaving this Via Doloroso, it was not surprising to read on the walls of some neighboring buildings such inscriptions as ‘Sorrow to England,’ ‘Damn England.’
“From Limerick we made a long round by motor car to visit three villages which had just been ‘shot up.’ These were Ennis- tymon, Lahinch, and Miltown Malbay. The first sign of trouble was cut telegraph wires. This had been done in two places. On entering Ennistymon the acrid smell of burning met us everywhere. Some of the ruins were still smoking, and here and there flame was flickering over the ashes. A man who had been present during the raid told us of the frenzy of the attack, the wild shouting, the blaz- ing houses, the bullets whizzing past his head as he tried to bring two women from the street to a place of safety, the shooting of a man and the hurling of the body in the flames.
“As we left the village a lorry passed us manned by armed police, and carrying on the floor two coffins. Presumably these were for two of a party of police ambushed and shot a day or two before. Lahinch had suffered more than Ennistymon. ‘Come this way, sir,’ said a man. We followed. There at the back of the house, in a low, poor shed, was a comparatively small chest covered with a white cloth, and on the top a few flowers. ‘He was burnt, sir, in one of the houses. He was a stranger. We don’t know who he was.’ This was all that was left. Now we were talking to a woman. ‘When they came to my house I begged and prayed them not to burn it. The man at the door was tall and fair. I could see him plainly, for it was bright moonlight, and there was the light from the burn- ing house. I pleaded hard, “Don’t burn this house. There’s no one but women and children in it.” And they went away and did not burn it.’ Again we are questioning a man who had succeeded in putting out the flames in his house—a small inn. ‘I carried the water up here. I was afraid they would see me and shoot me. There were some visitors upstairs, and they helped them out with their luggage. They said, “It’s not women and children we want; it’s the men we’re after. We’re out for blood.” ’ And now we leave the houses to go into the main street. A crowd is moving slowly from the farther end. A coffin carried shoulder high by the men of the village is being borne to the cemetery. With bared heads we join in the march. It is the funeral of one of those killed in the raid. A short interval and then a change. A motor lorry, carrying six or eight soldiers with trench helmets, bayonets, and rifles at ‘the ready,’ passes through the village. I stand looking hard at this symbol of physical power. The soldiers’ eyes range over doors, windows, and doorways, their fingers on the rifle trig- gers. I think of the charred remnants of the stranger a few yards away in the shed, of the coffin carried shoulder high; my eyes rest on the ruin left by the fires, and I cannot deny that a feeling of fierce anger flares up within me. And then like a flash comes the recollection of the lorry we have seen leaving Ennistymon, with its armed policemen guarding the two coffins; and I think of the mur- dered policemen, their widows and little children. And then, as in colors of flame, the conflict of the tragedy of Ireland is before me.
“Continuing our drive, we saw evidence that the reprisals had not been confined to villages and towns, but that isolated farms and cottages had been included. In other respects the country looked prosperous. The cottages and farm buildings are well thatched and cleanly whitewashed; and indeed we were assured from many quar- ters that Ireland is financially prosperous. “On the last night which we spent in Cork, I was awakened at about two o’clock by an explosion. Springing to the window I looked out. There was a good deal of firing, the coming and going of lorries and armored cars, and a searchlight in the distance. Two or three times I got back to bed, only to hurry to the window again as a shot or shots rang out. Gradually matters seemed to settle down. Investigation in the morning showed that a large part of an extensive shop front had been blown out by an explosion, and practically every pane of glass on the opposite side of the street for a considerable distance shivered by its force.
“In Cork we had the opportunity of attending a Sinn Fein court. Three young men sat on the bench, and there were about forty people present. The cases related to the licensing laws, and the proceedings were conducted in a quiet and businesslike manner. From many quarters we received testimony to the efficiency of these courts, and to the impartiality with which they administer justice. They deal with criminal offenses, questions of rent, ownership and occupation of land. So much for what we saw. Now for a few impressions.
“The old irreconcilable Unionism is dead, except in Ulster. The old constitutional Nationalist Party has gone also. One former Nationalist M. P. told me he doubted if he could find enough supporters to fill his nomination papers. Everywhere men talk of a Republic, a liberal measure of home rule, or Dominion home rule. It is not that Unionists think home rule the better policy, but that they regard something of the kind as inevitable. A measure of the kind that would have been fought five years ago would now almost certainly be accepted by Unionists with thankfulness. “The Parliamentary Nationalist Policy was discredited because it was found to lead only to disappointment, broken Government promises, bills withdrawn, Acts suspended. No one could trust the Government. In consequence practically the whole of the Nation- alist following has gone over to Sinn Fein. We gathered, however, that while the extreme Sinn Feiners were apparently irreconcilable, and will accept nothing short of an independent Irish Republic, there is a large mass of moderate opinion which would accept a well-conceived liberal measure of self-government. Several ex- pressed the opinion that the bestowal of this would kill the agita- tion for independence. However this may be, I must repeat that deeds, not words, are needed. Government promises are simply disregarded.
“Broadly speaking, the courses before England seem to be limited to three: (1) Repression and yet more repression, and all that this involves; (2) the gift of a liberal measure of self-government, including fiscal and financial control; (3) an independent Irish Republic. I am inclined to think England will rule out the first and third of these. What of the second? And what of the stopping of police reprisals, the withdrawal of the armed forces of the Crown as a pledge of the good faith of the Government, whose good faith also stands in need of some guarantee of the kind? I believe there is hope in this direction. But action must be prompt and decisive. Tempers are hardening. The door of opportunity is closing. Will the Government have the courage to act before it is again too late?” The Witness: This completes the report as written by John Henry Barlow. There are just a few conclusions that were stated for the committee by Roger Clark that I might offer in addition if you wish them. There may be points in his conclusion that are also referred to here, but I think it might be of some interest to have them in the words of another member of the committee.
“We must endeavor to summarize briefly our general impressions on the situation. Politically it is clear that the constitutional Home Rule or Nationalist Party has entirely disappeared. One of the late Members for Cork told us that if he put up again as a Nation- alist, he doubted if he would get enough support to fill up his nomi- nations. Sinn Fein, originally a semi-literary movement to revive the old native culture, language and life, developed later into a political movement for complete national independence from Eng- land. The Nationalist Party, disillusioned utterly by the repeated non-fulfilment of promises of self-government from England, has moved bodily over to Sinn Fein. The elected Sinn Fein members meet frequently in Dublin instead of coming to Westminster, and have set up a Republican Government, electing a Cabinet which functions through judiciary, police, army, etc. 'They have appointed agricultural and other commissions, on which prominent Unionists have been not unwilling to serve.
“It is generally admitted by moderate people, including many Unionists, that the only protection they enjoy is from the Sinn Fein police. Their meetings are protected from interruption, stolen goods are found and returned, writers of threatening letters are dealt with and stopped, laws controlling the sale of intoxicating drinks are rigorously enforced. All this when it is a penal offense for a Sinn Fein Volunteer policeman to act as such. It is plausibly maintained that if the English garrison and armed police were to withdraw, the Sinn Fein Government could and would run the coun- try, and that at present order and safety are only found in districts from which the English military and police have been withdrawn. Moderate people are already discussing to which Government they shall pay their next income tax. The English Government has ceased to function over at least eighty per cent, of Ireland. We were bound to recognize that a state of war is considered to exist, and does exist. The Irish Volunteers are the Sinn Fein army.”
The Witness: Here is just a bit of conclusion: “As Friends we must deplore the violence and the bloodshed on both sides that take place in such a state of war. As English citi- zens we must surely chiefly feel the shame of the direct responsi- bility of our Government for the policy of reprisals by the so-called Black-and-Tans led by their officers, during which town after town is being ravaged and burnt, and women and children are driven terror stricken into the fields and woods to seek safety at night.” Q. Commissioner Maurer: Did I understand you to say that that committee consisted of three people? A. It did. Q. What nation did they come from? A. They are Englishmen. Q. Were they all English? A. All English. There were three of them, one living in Bir- mingham, one in a suburban town south of London, and Edith Ellis lived in London at the time I was there. They were all English people.. Q. And this report was made at the World Conference? A. No, this was made following the World Conference of Friends, and was made to the executive ad interim body. Q. Senator Norris : It was made to the same body that appointed the committee? A. It was. Q. Commissioner Maurer: Did I understand you to say that you heard this report made? A. Yes, I did. Q. And you were in England at the time? A. I was. Q. Mr. Manly: Were there any objections made to the report? A. There were no objections made to the report. There was a great deal of expression of commendation to the Friends who served on the committee, and under some difficulty and inconvenience went to Ireland to make the investigation. I can add, however, that there were some Friends in the meeting, who were in the decided minority, who were not clear as to the withdrawal of the English forces. That is, they had in mind the opposition of the people in the north of Ireland to the withdrawal of the English forces, and they said they did not see what was going to happen next unless it was civil war if they were withdrawn. I should say that there were from five to six people out of a committee of one hundred who expressed that attitude. Q. There was no question raised as to the facts, but only on the policy? A. Only as to the policy. I may say that these three Friends who made the report are generally considered among Friends to be as responsible as any three people could be. They have the highest regard and respect for them.
Q. Do you know how many Friends there are in Ireland? A. Not less than three thousand or more than five thousand. I do not know exactly. Q. Where are they located? Do you know? A. About Belfast and Dublin, and a few who are centered in the south of Ireland. Q. Both in the north and south of Ireland? A. Both in the north and south. Q. Do you know whether any complaints have come to the Society of Friends regarding the persecution of the Friends in Ire- land, or any violence toward them? A. No, I know of no persecution of Friends. There have been instances in which the homes of Friends have been searched. Q. By whom? A. I think both by representatives of Sinn Fein and the English Government, but I am unable to give details. But in no case that I know of has violence been done or property destroyed. Q. Do you know whether or not the Friends in the south of Ireland are as a class Republicans? A. As a class they could not be said to be Republicans. They have in times past been Unionists or Nationalists. They are not now actively in Sinn Fein, but I know that a great many of them are very sympathetic with the Sinn Fein. Q. But as a class they have, you think, been rather aloof recently from this more bitter political movement? A. They have always been aloof from it, as far as taking any partisan part is concerned, because of the fact that their principles deterred them from being very partisan in the matter — that is, from taking an active part in it. Q. Would it be your view then that the Friends would be as nearly impartial and unbiased as any group of people in Ireland can be? A. I don't know whether my opinion is worth very much on that point. Q. Well, you have stated the fact that their principles have kept them out of partisan politics to a large extent? A. Yes, yes; that is correct. To a large extent. Q. And would you draw the conclusion from that that they would be as impartial as a body of people could be? A. Yes, yes. I think that is a warranted conclusion. Q. Senator Norris: Do the Friends have churches in Ireland? A. Yes, they have. Q. Where are they located? A. I am unable to give a list of places where there are Meetings, as they are called. Q. But wherever they are, they have places of worship? A. Yes, a considerable number of them. The chief places are Belfast and Dublin. Q. Well, Dublin is a Catholic community and Belfast is a Protestant community. A. Yes. Q. Well, then, I wish you would tell the Commission of any cases that you know of where the Friends have been interfered with in their religious services. A. I know of no such instances. Q. Either in the north or south? A. Either in the north or south. Q. Commissioner Newman: If there had been, you would have heard of such disturbances? A. I think I would.
Q. Chairman Howe: Are the Friends fearful that if the Repub- lican form of government comes about they will be interfered with in any way? A. I have never heard any Friends express that. I know that there are some Friends in the north of Ireland who are fearful of the new government, but not on religious grounds. Q. But your Friends in the south of Ireland, where the Repub- licans are in the great majority, have more reason to be fearful, in case there were to be any persecutions, than those in the north. A. Yes, that would be so. But I have friends in the south of Ireland, and I have never heard them express anything that way. Q. Commissioner Newman: What are the political affiliations of the Friends in England? A. Before the war they were Liberals, but since the war it is hard to say. A great many of them are affiliating with the Labor Party. Q. The Friends during the war supported the war, did they not? A. I could not answer that question yes or no, because there were a good many Friends who did go into the army or did take part in the financing of the wartime work in England. But the attitude of the Friends as a whole was against the war and against military service, and they stood out publicly on it throughout the war. Q. Mr. Manly: Their attitude, though, is not against this par ticular war, but against all wars. A. That is correct. Q. It is a long-standing principle that the action of the indi- vidual Friend is a matter of personal discretion in time of war. A. That is correct. Q. And it has been recognized by the government in past wars, has it not, that the Society of Friends is entitled to religious ex- emption ? A. It has been recognized, I would say, to a more or less degree, its recognition depending on how hard pressed the government was. Q. That was true, though, in this country that there had been a recognition of the Society of Friends as one of the religious organi- zations which on principle was opposed to military activity. A. That is quite true. Q. Commissioner Maurer: How many Friends are there in Eng- land? Have you any idea? A. About 18,000; possibly 20,000. Q. Chairman Howe: How many are there in the United States? A. About 100,000. Q. Communicants, or members of meeting houses? A. Yes, about 100,000, widely scattered. Q. Commissioner Newman: The Society of Friends in the United States did not oppose military service, did they? A. They took the same stand that the Friends did in England. I myself did oppose it. I will have to make an explanation in order to answer that question. I will make it as briefly as possible. The Society of Friends does not undertake to bind their members as to their individual procedure. It is supposed that they in a gen- eral way have convictions that are in harmony with the principles that have been set down as the principles of the Society of Friends. But they Eire not ordered to do anything, but are supposed to follow their convictions. And it would simply follow that if a person did not in general agree with the principles of the Society of Friends, it would be expected that he would eventually resign. But no Friends were discharged or dismissed from membership because they took part in the' war, although at the same time the official attitude of the Society of Friends was against participation in the war, or against war in any form or in any circumstances as a method of settling any international dispute, both now and past and future. (The witness was thereupon excused.) Q. Chairman Howe : Are there any other questions as to the Irish testimony? If not, are there any other witnesses this morning? Have you anybody else, Mr. Manly? Mr. Manly: No, I have not. Chairman Howe: The witnesses we expected to have this week are still on the seas. They are on the Baltic and the Carmania. They were expected to land this week, so that we could continue the hearings today or Saturday; but neither of these boats will land before Sunday. The Commission expects to continue its hearings on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. We cannot set a definite day or hour now, but they will be announced in the press. The hearings will be held here in the LaFayette Hotel. Thereupon, at 11:45 A. M., the Commission adjourned until the Fourth Hearings.

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Edited by Roger W Haworth (email and website) to whom errors should be reported, please.
(2014-09-07 09:28:02)