Speaking at St. Ignatius Church, Galway, on Sunday, the Rev. Father Cahill, S.J., alluded to the appalling menace of conscription with which the country was faced.
The teaching of Catholic theology was that an oppressed, unjustifiable law could be resisted. The people affected by the Conscription Bill came under three heads. There were first those who came within the prescribed age limits. In the second place there was the executive charged with the enforcement of the Act – judges, magistrates, police and military.
To those, Father Cahill pointed out that to try and enforce an unjust measure of legislation would be co-operating in an act of injustice and tyranny, and to do that would be immoral and sinful.
Under the third head came women and children, and people over the prescribed age. By the law of charity, even those were bound to resist the Act, just as a man who saw his neighbour’s house on fire, or saw him attacked by a murderer, or his goods being stolen would be expected in charity to help him.
Seven churches march
“Denying the right of the British Government to enforce compulsory service in this country, we pledge ourselves solemnly to one another to resist Conscription by the most effective means at our disposal.”
This solemn pledge was taken at Eyre-square, Galway, on Sunday by a crowd of over five thousand people. It was one of the largest gatherings seen in the Square since the days of Parnell.
After eleven o’clock Mass, the congregations of the seven city churches marched in a processional order, headed by their priests and the crowd, with upraised hands and bared heads, solemnly took the pledge to resist conscription.
Very Rev. A.J. Considine, Adm, V.F., who wore his surplice, said he appeared in the garb because the gathering was a religious one, and he continued “to convey to you a message from your Bishop and others”.
“It is my belief that conscription is likely to work out under the authorities of the British Army in this country as a grave, physical and moral menace to the small, healthy remnant of the Irish in Ireland and, therefore, to the healthy perpetuation of the Irish nation.
“For this reason and for many others as well, I approve of and bless resistance to its enforcement by every means within the law of God.” (Cheers).
Patients on floors
To relieve the demand on bed accommodation in the Galway Central Hospital and to avoid the necessity of compelling patients to sleep on hospital floors, some disused buildings such as the old workhouse in Portumna should be equipped and utilised as a hospital until a new County Hospital could be built.
This proposal, placed before the Galway County Council at Saturday’s meeting by Mr. R.M. Burke, was described by some other councillors as “propaganda”.
Ald. Miss Ashe said that the county had got rid of the workhouses and of the people who had forced the workhouses on them and they did not want to see the poorhouses utilised again for any purpose.
Mr. Burke said that he proposed to the County Manager some time ago that as materials were not available to permit building work at the Central Hospital, some existing building should be utilised. He had been informed that the old workhouse in Portumna could be fitted for temporary use as a hospital.
If that were done, patients from that part of the county would be spared a long journey to hospital and, what was more important, patients could have beds instead of being obliged to sleep on the floor.
Mr. S. O’Kelly supported the case and said that it was terrible that patients should be left lying on the floors in the general hospital in Galway because of insufficient bed accommodation.
Mr. H. O’Toole: I walked through two wards this morning and I saw beds empty. This is all false propaganda.
Mr. W. Dunne said that he would like to see the new hospital in operation, but did the people who were making proposals now realise that essential materials were unprocurable? The price of timber had gone up by 400 per cent and steel and iron were unprocurable. What was the use of talking hog-wash?
He described the proposals made at the meeting as pure propaganda and added that he did not care who liked that description.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.