Eamon de Valera – Man and Myth

I began to take fresh look at Eamonn de Valera after watching the RTE programme which revealed new information about his association with The Irish Press Ltd and, over the past year or so, I have re-visited many of the books and articles written about him; what a lot there are and they are still coming. It was a fascinating journey and I have selected and set out just a few, a very few, random historical facts gleaned from my research.

You will note that ‘I come to bury Caesar not to praise him‘ as there has been far too much of that done already; apologists abound, some either brainwashed or quite shameless and  less than honest . I have taken great pains to check dates of events and names of participants et cetera to ensure accuracy but I don’t claim any special insights; I have had the advantage of access to the new information which has come to light in recent years and I have analysed events and drawn my own conclusions based on the published facts.

What follows are just the barest bones of some of my findings, in no particular order, and I am quite happy to stand over them. If my scribbling encourages others to undertake similar journeys, and I hope it will, then I wont have wasted my time; nor will they. They may draw different conclusions but they will meet very many people who played major and honourable parts in the War of Independence and the setting up of our State, people whose names are now mostly forgotten except, maybe, for a monument or a placque on a wall here and there around the country; they will enjoy and benefit from those meetings. They will be reminded that, despite how it sometimes may seem, it was not only about two men, however remarkable they both may have been. The absolute truth is elusive but it is worth the chase.

So just who was Eamonn de Valera ?  According to the records he was born to a young immigrant Irish woman, Catherine [Kate] Coll, in the Nursery and Child’s Hospital, 61 East 41st Street, New York City, USA, a hospital for destitute, abandoned children and orphans, on October 14th 1882, and registered as George de Valero. His mother sent him home to Ireland in April 1885 on the SS City of Chicago in the custody of his teenage uncle, Edward [Ned] Coll, to be raised by his grandmother in the family’s thatched, one room, labourer’s cottage on half an acre at Knockmore townland, Bruree, Co. Limerick.

On May 7th 1888 he began his education at Bruree National School, where he was known as Eddie Coll, and proved to be a excellent student; in due course he won a scholarship to Blackrock College, Dublin, a place he was to come to look upon as home. He was an outstanding member of the Literary and Debating Society and even then he showed the determination, persistence and ruthless streak which would be a feature of his political career. He would live in the Blackrock area of Dublin for the rest of his life.

In time he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree [pass] and began teaching mathematics, first at Rockwell College and later at Carysfort College, in Dublin. He married his Irish language teacher, Sinead Flanagan, NT, on January 8th 1910, at St Paul’s Church, Arran Quay, Dublin and joined the Volunteers on their formation by Eoin MacNeill on November 25th 1913, in the Rotunda, Parnell Square, Dublin. His commitment, enthusiasm and diligence soon brought him to the attention of Padraic Pearse and the other leaders and he was marked down for promotion.

On Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, as Commander of the 3rd Dublin Volunteer Battalion, Eamonn de Valera  and his men carried out their orders and seized and occupied Boland’s Mill/Bakery in the Ringsend area of the city. He left a pregnant, penniless and very unhappy wife with 4 young children in a rented flat at 38, Morehampton Terrace, Donnybrook, Dublin. It was the action of an idealistic, brave, committed and reckless man as he must have known that the Rising would fail and that he would probably be shot by the British. He had an awful lot to lose and little to gain.

As it happened, his wife, with no income to maintain the flat, had to return to her elderly and semi invalided parents’ home at 34, Munster Street, Phibsboro, Dublin, where 2 of her sisters and a brother also lived, and farm out some of the children to other relatives. One of her sisters died of cancer in August, she gave birth to her baby boy [Ruari ] in November and her mother died in January, 1917. She would not see her husband again until June 18th 1917.

It is of interest to note here that in the 1911 Census Eamonn de Valera filled out the form in English and gave his two languages as English and Irish, in that order, while his wife of one year filled her form out in Irish and gave her two languages as Irish and English. One can only speculate as to just how much credit/blame can be attributed to Sinead for the transformation of her husband from conservative school teacher to revolutionary.

During the following week of fighting, although his command post was some way removed from the main action, eye witness reports say that de Valera was manic in his actions and appeared to be going through a nervous breakdown; he learned then that shooting wars were not for him.  But 17 men of his command, led by Lieutenant Michael Malone and Volunteer James Grace, resolutely defended the approach to  Mount Street Bridge against overwhelming odds from their posts, No.25 Northumberland Road and Clanwilliam House, inflicting half the total casualties suffered by the British during Easter week; the heroic Malone died in the fighting. Although de Valera was cut off from this action and took no part in it he received the glory as their commander. 

It was then that Lady Luck seems to have adopted him. Boland’s Mill/Bakery was the last centre to receive the order to surrender [ Sunday April 30th ] so he became known as the man who held out the longest. He escaped the firing squad because public opinion at home and abroad had forced the British to end the killing and he was not considered important; thus he became the only condemned leader to survive, the last man standing. It is worth noting here that at the time some 50/100,000 Irishmen were fighting and dying with the British army in the killing fields of France and the trenches of The Somme, and that there were very few Irish families who did not have some relationship with either the army or the RIC. The vast majority of the people were quite happy and proud to be a part of the British Empire.

The Volunteers were jeered and mocked by the people of Dublin as they were marched away after the surrender while women, many of them ‘separation women’, [ ie. soldiers’ wives, sisters or mothers ] came out of their houses with cups of tea for the soldiers. But the executions of the leaders of the Rising swung the country behind the rebels and de Valera, with his striking appearance and strange name, was going to be remembered. The newspapers had found their Hero and from now on Luck and the Media would play major roles in his life. When Legend becomes Fact, print the Legend.

It was clear from the outset that he had no intention of going back to teaching as he showed himself to be a very able and clever communicator/administrator with an oversized ego and a lust for power. While in jail in England he acted as Commanding Officer and spokesman for the other Volunteer prisoners, even spending a few days on a hunger and thirst strike, and he defied the prison authorities at every opportunity, thus impressing his fellow prisoners and adding to his reputation.

I believe that it was while he was incarcerated that he began to formulate the long term plans and strategies which were to guide his career from then on. On their release in June 1917 he marshalled the men and led them into the Mailboat’s 1st class salon on 3rd class tickets, and was allowed to get away with it. In October, 1917 Arthur Griffiths stood down in favour of the most senior surviving leader of 1916 and de Valera became President of Sinn Fein. He was 35 years old.

His escape from Lincoln Jail, on the night of February 3rd 1919, engineered by Michael Collins, added to the growing legend but perhaps it was the hero worship that he enjoyed in the US during his prolonged visit in 1919/1920 that finally persuaded him that he was The Chosen One? This was when Tammany Hall was at the height of it’s power and it was with the Irish American activists in New York, the toughest and roughest political academy in the world, that he studied and graduated in the art of ‘realpolitik’. It was also there he recognised the importance of The Media at a time when radio was still in it’s infancy and before the onslaught of television. He learned that ‘the best way to communicate with the people is through the medium of the printed word’, and never forgot it. People believed what they read in the papers. 

In America he lived as the Guest of Honour in a magical world of public adulation and acclaim; handshakes and back slapping; of banquets; of torch lit processions; 21 gun presidential salutes; garlands of roses; freedom of cities and of states; cavalcades and parades; ovations and honorary degrees. He was received and honoured as the Irish Lincoln by some of the highest in the land, Church and State, Governors and Mayors, Bishops and Archbishops. Although he had to work hard and travel over and back across the country addressing endless meetings and rallies, a job he did with passion, conviction and eloquence, the humble mathematics teacher had developed a taste for The Good Life; he had lived in the lap of luxury for 18 months and he liked it

On the downside he was accused by his hosts of being arrogant and dictatorial, of wasting money, of believing that the ovations were for him personally and not as a symbol of Ireland, and of spreading discord in the ranks of Irish American organisations and their supporters. He had a meeting with William Butler Yeats in May 1920 and was described afterwards by the poet as ‘a living argument rather than a living man’ and ‘not having enough human life to judge the human life in others’.

De Valera had received cabinet approval for his plans to extend his stay in the US into 1921 but changed his mind on hearing that Arthur Griffith had been arrested and that Michael Collins had been elected acting President. On his return to Ireland he already saw himself very much as the main man and sought to take over and get his own way in every situation. He was his own ‘spin-doctor’ in an age before they had been invented and used his reputation, fame and charisma to attract to his side, control and manipulate carefully chosen activists. Harry Boland, Michael Collins’ closest friend and comrade, became one of his targets with tragic consequences. ‘Divide and Conquer’ was one of his chosen weapons and a study of Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’, his favourite handbook, is essential for anyone hoping to gain an insight into this strange and remarkable man.

Although de Valera was surrounded with gunmen and revolutionaries he expected and was shown extraordinary deference. He was well read, a very able debater with a good command of language and he never allowed truth to get in the way of a good story; he   would have made a fine if devious and longwinded barrister or an efficient but tricky Secretary of a GAA County Board. He said, and possibly believed, that when he wanted to know what the Irish people were thinking, all he had to do was to look into his own heart. What if the people could have looked into his heart? As a boy, I heard him speak once when he addressed an Election Meeting at the font near the Courthouse in my home town; he promised us a biscuit factory which we are still waiting for.

In August 1923, after the first General Election of The Irish Free State, Eamonn de Valera, denied power, decided once more to ignore the democratic voice of the people and refused to take his seat in Dail Eireann ‘because of the oath of allegiance to the crown’. Thus, it must always be remembered that Eamonn de Valera and his followers played no part whatsoever in the first crucial formative years of our State but, it goes without saying, that he and his irregulars did not boycott their Dail salaries during their extended vacation.

In the meantime, William T. Cosgrave and his colleagues had to tackle the daunting job of bringing order to the chaos and getting the new State up and running, a mammoth task in which they proved remarkably successful.  On August 11, 1927, de Valera decided that the offending oath was, after all, just ‘an empty formality’ and he and his supporters returned to the chamber.

 But during that four years he had not been idle on his own behalf; he had a plan.  In a lengthy, expensive and wasteful legal action in New York, he had challenged the new Irish State’s right to the badly needed bond money in the US and wound up, as we have seen, by banking a substantial sum in his own name; and he had established the political party he called Fianna Fail.

In 1907, Peadar Kearney, uncle of playwright and author Brendan Behan, wrote the lyrics of a song he called ‘The Soldier’s Song’ and, with music composed by his collaborator, Patrick Heaney, it was first published in 1912.  The first line of the Chorus read ‘Soldiers are we’ in English and was translated into Irish as ‘Sinne Laochra Fail’ [ Laoch: warrior, hero, soldier, champion;  Dineen ] and it became popular when it was sung by the occupiers of the GPO in 1916.

In 1926, the same year that de Valera founded the political party which he named Fianna Fail, the song was adopted as the Irish National Anthem and the line ‘Sinne Laochra Fail’ miraculously became ‘Sinne Fianna Fail’. It was a stroke of pure genius. Henceforth, every time the National Anthem would be sung his Party would get a priceless ‘plug’, and this, no doubt, has helped Fianna Fail immeasurably in gaining and holding on to power for so long. But when one considers that the new National Anthem was being hi-jacked by the very people who had tried so hard to destroy the State it is difficult to understand why the Cosgrave Government did not put a foot on it right at the outset. But, then again, we must remember that at that time Mr Cosgrave and his colleagues were fully occupied with the almost impossible task of getting the new State up and running after the chaos and slaughter of the Civil War, while de Valera and his followers had lots of time on their hands.

Surely the time has come for the people of Ireland to reclaim their National Anthem from Fianna Fail and the taint of party politics?

The General Election of 1932 gave de Valera his chance to form a government and now for the first time he embraced Democracy and accepted the will of the people. He formed a coalition with Labour which proved to be ‘a temporary little arrangement’, for on January 24th, 1933 he went to the country and came back with an overall majority with 77 seats. Eamonn de Valera was now happy to become the leader of the Free State he had tried so hard to destroy and he immediately set about putting his stamp on it.

The Cosgrave Government had established a Local Appointments Commission to supervise recruitment to senior posts in local authorities and to eradicate the corruption  and jobbery that had been the norm under the various Lord Lieutenants. But, once in office, de Valera abolished the Commission and embraced the concept of patronage ruthlessly with every post in his gift going to Fianna Fail nominees throughout the country. The Cult of de Valera had arrived and nepotism and cronyism became the order of the day and the policy of his party which retains it to the present day. One of his first victims was General Eoin O’Duffy, the Commissioner of Police, who had performed a near miracle in establishing order with an unarmed police force in a country awash with guns and men only too willing to use them.

In December 1922 the Cosgrave Government had also established a 60 member Senate, incorporating all communities and shades of opinion on the island, Nationalists, Unionists, The Arts, Industry et cetera, and it proved invaluable in the formation and growth of the new State. People of the calibre of WB Yeats, Oliver St John Gogarty, Andrew Jameson, Sir Horace Plunkett,  Lord Glenavy et al ensured that progress was made as well as guaranteeing that the standard of oratory was of the highest order.

But de Valera, rejected by the electorate, did not like it and in 1923, shortly after the Senate was inaugurated, his ‘irregulars’ burned the houses of some three dozen nominees and kidnapped two others. However, these acts of terrorism did not deter the Senators and they showed their courage and patriotism by continuing to perform their functions and refusing to be intimidated.  In 1936, four years after gaining power, de Valera abolished the Senate but in 1938, only two years later, he introduced his own self-made model, the one we have to this day.

De Valera selected his ministers very judiciously, with loyalty to him personally being the key qualification; he gave his ministers positions of prestige and respect but he never told them anything and turned them into a sorry collection of Yes-men; naturally, there was never a ‘heave’ against him.  He was treated, and expected to be treated, as Royalty  [he liked to be addressed as ‘Chief’] and he brooked no interference with his decisions once they were made. His policies have been described as “masterly inactivity” with more rhetoric than reality and he achieved none of the national aims he had proclaimed for himself. But then, it must be remembered that during all those years the Irish Press was generating substantial profits, and he had to find time for the management of his own personal finances. Just what was he doing with all that money?

Eamonn de Valera suffered from the incurable disease; meaness. Money was all important to him and this fact must be remembered at all times. He did not believe in paying anyone. Even his long time secretary and confidante, Kathleen O’Connell, was paid a fraction of the salaries commanded by her peers, and his parsimonious mistreatment of the Irish Press staff is legendary. He left his personal papers to the Franciscans but no money to store or catalogue them. More significantly, right from the start, he accepted big business contributions to the Fianna Fail party and when reservations were expressed his answer was, ‘But we have to be practical’; he just could not refuse money and the Galway Tent was on the way. He established a principle then that still survives in the Party giving it a permanent whiff of sleeze and corruption. The latter day plethora of Tribunals with their lying witnesses and false evidence bear witness to his legacy. When he finally stood down in 1959 the country was on the brink of bankruptcy but he himself had no such problems.

He loved posturing.  On becoming Priomh Aire in 1932  he substantially cut his own and his ministers’ salaries  “If there are to be hair shirts at all, it will be hair shirts all round”. But he had the comfort of the fortune in the US and had moved into a large house, Bellevue, on 4 plus acres in residential Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Different hair shirts for different people. His posturing also led to the crippling economic war, which for 5 years brought ruination to hundreds of hard pressed small farmers.

He never missed an opportunity to promote himself; a good example of this was seen at Tom Barry’s wedding on August 22nd 1921, when he insisted on sitting between the Bride and Groom for the wedding photograph. Michael  Collins can be seen to the left in the second row with his head lowered to frustrate the camera.

De Valera recognised the powerful influence of the Catholic Church over the minds of the Electorate and his 1937 Constitution gave the Church special status and control of our educational system. Separate Catholic schools gave the clergy free access to our children while his Judges and “Cruelty Men’, aided and abetted by criminally negligent Government Ministers, department officials and local and national politicians, condemned our underprivileged children to the mercy of the perverted sadists and paedophiles who seem to have infested our Industrial Schools and Orphanages. Where were the good Christians we had elected to look after our country and our people? Where was Christ?

Between 1936 and 1970, approx 170,000 children, some just babies, were abandoned to those nightmarish institutions, resulting in what is now being described as The Irish Holocaust. How could it have happened? Where were our Leaders? In 1945 Taoiseach Eamonn de Valera was photographed in Upton Industrial School posing with some of the unfortunate boys incarcerated there; for him it was a Photo Opportunity.  It was only in May 2009 that the truth was finally accepted. When are we going to see those black garbed ‘Christian’ monsters and their protectors and collaborators behind bars? When will they even be named? Contact your local TD but don’t hold your breath.

Article 42.5 of the Constitution of Ireland states; ‘IN EXCEPTIONAL CASES, WHERE THE PARENTS, FOR PHYSICAL OR MORAL REASONS, FAIL IN THEIR DUTY TOWARDS THEIR CHILDREN, THE STATE, AS GUARDIAN OF THE COMMON GOOD, BY APPROPRIATE MEANS SHALL ENDEAVOUR TO SUPPLY THE PLACE OF THE PARENTS, BUT ALWAYS WITH DUE REGARD FOR THE NATURAL AND IMPRESCRIPTIBLE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD’.

Despite all the promises and the huffing and puffing by our Fianna Fail led government, right now, in June 2011, there is still no adequate legislation on children’s rights, a fact that has recently been picked up on by Amnesty International, and our Health Services Executive [HSE] does not seem to know, or is not willing to disclose, how many children in it’s care have died or gone missing. Shame on us.

All in all de Valera’s years in power were disastrous for the country as a whole, though, of course, not for himself personally, and in all his years in government he did absolutely nothing to advance Irish Culture. He made an attempt to abolish the PR voting system but it was rejected by the electorate.

De Valera’s and Fianna Fail’s policy on Patronage still shows itself clearly in all areas of Irish life. Our Judges are still appointed by the Government, not for outstanding ability and integrity, but for loyalty and services to the Party; and once installed they are given  outlandish powers and are practically untouchable. You will recall the difficulties encountered by the State in recent years while trying to get rid of a judge who had been seriously compromised and the staunch support given him by his colleagues in the legal profession. And you will please note that here in this country there is no mandatory training period for the newly appointed judges; no University course to teach them how to do their new jobs; no seminars to guide them in their new and vital roles; they go from country solicitor/barrister to ‘Your Honour’ overnight and we allow it to happen. No matter how bizarre their judgements they do not have to explain or justify them.

It is no wonder our legal system has been described as the most incompetent and corrupt in the EU and it’s practitioners the greediest. [Think; 2250 Euro per day for sitting in on one of our everlasting tribunals.] It is generally accepted that some of the people we have on the bench should not be allowed to decide anything, anywhere, for anyone. The corrupt C.J. Haughey evaded justice because a Judge pronounced that too much was known about his financial misdeeds for him to get a fair trial. He was so obviously guilty that he had to be let get away with it.  We have seen a convicted non-national rapist walk out of the Court, never to be seen again, when our Judge needed time to consider the sentence; convicted killers are allowed back on our streets within a short few years, sometimes to kill again.

In a recent horrendous case, one of our Learned  Judges, in his infinite wisdom and conceit, chose to ignore the warnings and entreaties of the Gardai to keep a well known extremely dangerous and vicious thug under lock and key and turned him loose to rape and murder, within a few short weeks, a young student on her first visit to this country. Should that Learned Gentleman not be obliged to explain and justify his decision? Should he not be removed from the bench in the meantime? The girl’s family are taking legal action against the State and one can only wish them well; the results will be very interesting although one suspects that they will have to go to the European Courts to get Justice. Another senior Judge revealed that he based his judgements on the Law of God as interpreted by the Catholic Church and not on the Law of the Land.

Judgements are regularly overturned by higher Courts but the blundering and incompetent members of the bench are not censured in any way for their mistakes, nor are they sent for ‘re-training’; next day they are up there again dishing out more of the same to us. Cases that should take an hour take a day, cases that should take a day take a week, those that should take a week take months and so on; and it can take years to get a case before the Court in the first place.

Our Judges are entitled to sit until they are 70 years old and never have to explain themselves or their rulings to anyone; and they still insist on wearing British wigs and gowns. No wonder so many of them are seen as  pompous prigs and ill-mannered louts; we have created a monster and are paying the price.  “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.  If you have not been in a Courthouse for some time give yourself a treat and sit in for a session or two to see for yourself what goes on, keeping in mind that you and I are paying for it; you will also find out why there are so few gardai on our streets where they are so badly needed.

De Valera has been lauded for keeping Ireland out of WW2!  But should we, The Fighting Irish, not have joined the rest of the free world in confronting the evil that was the Third Reich?  While that would, no doubt, have resulted in loss of life from German bombs, on the other hand, it could, just possibly, have resulted in a united Ireland, thus avoiding the slaughter of the last 40 years. At the very least he surely should have explored to the utmost the possibilities at that time? But then we know that de Valera did not like ‘shooting wars’ and the thought of bombs falling on Dublin where he himself lived would not have appealed to him. It is calculated that between 50,000 and 100,000 Irishmen served in the British Armed Forces in the course of the war.

His rigorous censorship regime, the strictest of any neutral State, meant that the Irish people were kept in the dark about the terrible scale of Nazi atrocities although he himself was aware of them. He showed little Christian charity for the plight of Jewish refugees and shamefully few were given refuge in Ireland; and he attended at the German Embassy to sympathise when news of Hitler’s death became known.

He told untruths. There were facts and there were de Valera facts and his official biography is deemed one of the great works of fiction, although still regarded as a Bible by a great number of people who should know better. For instance it was widely put about that de Valera was one of the few mathematicians in the world who understood Einstein’s Theory of Relativity; this was a brave claim for a Pass BA,

He spent years revisiting and attempting to rewrite accounts of historical events to match his own projected image of himself, and still many commentators continue to accept his ‘de Valera facts’ without question; and he is always being touted as a Statesman, but in 1921, on the only real occasion when this country needed one, he went into hiding.

SEMANTICS

Home Rule. Republic. Liberty, Independence. Self Government.  Self Determination. Free State. National Unity. Irish Sovereignty. Constitutional Status, et Cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

These terms all mean the same thing; Freedom. The men of 1916 selected the word  ‘Republic’ for their declaration of Independence; it had historical significance and suited their purpose, but it was still only a word.  Between 1916 and the Treaty all our Freedom Fighters were Republicans, most of all, Michael Collins, and they remained Republicans;  but a word is only a word and there was a job to be done, a nettle to be grasped, a goal to be reached, and our delegates had the wisdom and courage to face that fact and complete their mission.

But, despite he himself having given up the Republic and the six counties to Lloyd George in 1921, the following year de Valera hi-jacked and corrupted the word for his own purposes. Tragically and unbelievably all those brave, sincere and committed people, most of them young men and teenage boys, who were encouraged to call themselves ‘Republicans’ and attack their own country, were in effect nothing but de Valera’s dupes and puppets. It should be noted here that, during all his years in power, he did absolutely nothing to further the “ Republican” cause and yet, even today, Fianna Fail still styles itself ‘The Republican Party’.  What exactly does that mean?

It was John A. Costelloe, a Fine Gael Taoiseach, and his Government who finally repealed the External Relations Act in 1948, and on December 21st of that year The Republic of Ireland Act was signed into law by President Sean T, O’Kelly. It was enacted on a symbolic day, Easter Monday, April 18th, the following year.

During WW2  Taoiseach de Valera interceded, unsuccessfully, with the British for clemency on behalf of IRA men, Peter Barnes and Frank Richards [ aka James McCormack], who were condemned to death for the 1939 Coventry bombing, and with the NI administration on behalf of 19 year old Antrim man, Thomas Williams, declaring them “men animated with honest motives”. But here in the Irish Free State, his own jurisdiction, de Valera showed little concern for honest motives and, in addition to censorship, introduced the Emergency Powers Order on 30/12/1941. Thereafter, Military Tribunals and The Special Criminal Court had special powers for the trials of IRA activists, and prisoners were treated harshly and granted few civil rights.

These men were the direct line descendents of the men he himself recruited and incited against their country with his ‘wading through blood’ speeches and de Valera must bear full responsibility for their actions and for their deaths. They were carrying out the same orders as his own 1922 ‘diehards’ whose exploits had always been glorified in The Irish Press, only this time it was he himself who was the enemy and under attack and he did not like it. Under the EPO legislation hearsay evidence was accepted as sufficient for a conviction and it was hearsay evidence that had Tipperary man, George Plant, executed on March 5th 1942, in what has been described as Judicial Murder.

In all, de Valera put to death 6 IRA members, 5 by firing squad, in a grisly echo of the May 1916 executions, allowed 3 to die on hunger strike, while 3 more were shot by police. On December, 1st, 1944, de Valera employed the English hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, to execute Tralee man,  Charles Kerins, in Mountjoy Jail. It would appear that only those men unlikely to be a threat to his own position should be entitled to live. Typically, de Valera would always refer to the killings as ‘Gerry Boland’s Executions’.

If his own 1922 ‘legion of the rearguard’ had discovered then that it was their own leader who had given up the fabled ‘Republic’, which he had once referred to as a ‘straight-jacket’, our history would have been very different. It should be noted here that on first assuming power he granted pensions to his own IRA ‘irregulars’ before declaring that organisation illegal in 1936.

On 17/03/1943 De Valera gave his definition of  his ideal Ireland—-“the home of a people who valued material wealth only as the basis for right living; a people who were satisfied with frugal comfort and devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit;—-a land bright with cosy homesteads, joyous with the sounds of industry, the contests of athletic youths and the laughter of comely maidens; whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The Irish genius has always stressed spiritual and intellectual rather than material values”. Where did the immensely wealthy Controlling Director see himself fitting into that picture?

I could go on ad infinitum but must call a halt before I find myself the author of another de Valera book. I confess that I have come to dislike the man and until a complete and detailed history of his and his family’s personal finances is on record no proper appraisal of Eamon de Valera’s true place in our country’s history can be possible. Legislation passed by his governments should also be forensically examined and assessed.  For instance, is it just a co-incidence that the perpetrators of massive financial swindles and conspiracies are even yet, now in 2010,  practically untouchable?  Why is legislation still so woefully inadequate? We are seeing it today with the collapse of our Financial Institutions and the Economy; the people who are responsible have been described as National Traitors but are being allowed to keep the money, their freedom and, more shamefully, their Irish passports. It is a staggering fact that some of the directors and management staff  of the various Banks/Societies who helped to mastermind the meltdown are still in situ and drawing their fat fees.

We have seen the Chief Executives of two large financial institutions conspire over several years to falsify their company accounts while the government appointed ‘regulator’ looked the other way. The manoeuvre has cost the country Billions but the latter has retired with a golden handshake and a princely pension while the other pair continue to live the good life as before; and, to add insult to injury, one of them has given himself a massive pension and a one Million Euro Bonus for work well done in 2008. It should be noted that the auditors, some of the top firms in the country, certified everything in order each year. Again, apart of some more huffing and puffing, our Government still stands idly by. Elaborate legal  ‘Loopholes’ have long been built into the system to allow our super-rich to avoid paying their fair share of tax while still enjoying the services being paid for by the ‘little people’. Is there an echo of The Chief here? And should people who choose to pay their taxes in other countries while still residing here be allowed to keep Irish passports?

Why is there still no effective legislation to deal with ‘white collar’ criminals? Why are they not in jail with the people who are unable to pay their TV licence? De Valera’s Fianna Fail have been in government for nearly 70 of the 88 years the State has been in existence; no other party has been continuously in power long enough to do anything constructive. The buck stops firmly with Fianna Fail. Some years ago Bertie Ahern, the Minister for Finance without a Bank account, introduced legislation and back-dated it several years to save a supporter from a substantial tax liability even though they said such a thing could not legally be done. But then, perhaps, we should not blame Fianna Fail for believing that they are above the Law and entitled to play God; after all, they made the Law, and we the people have shown our approval by continuing to vote them into power time after time.

Paul Appleby, Director of Corporate Enforcement, who has recovered hundreds of hot millions for the exchequer has repeatedly requested extra staff for his department and, unbelievably, been turned down by this government. He is running the single most productive and profitable operation in the country and, with hundreds of millions more still there to be collected, why, at a time when the country needs money so badly, is Fianna Fail unwilling to allow him to collect it?  Could it be that he is getting a little too close to ‘friends’ for comfort? It seems the only plausible explanation.

In the US a President is given 4 years in office and, if he is deemed to have done a satisfactory job, a maximum of another 4 years; a grand total of 8 years. Any longer is believed to be dangerous  and unhealthy.

 We have left the present Government in place for thirteen uninterrupted years and we are paying the price; we have only ourselves to blame.

So why shouldn’t our Taoiseach pay himself  more than the President of the United States or any other European Head of State? Sure has he not got nearly four and a half million people to look after, nearly as many as in Greater Manchester.

So why shouldn’t Brian and his Ministers spend millions of our money employing ‘Consultants and Advisors’?  Sure the country needs good well paid jobs and their friends and relations expect to be looked after same as always in the grand old de Valera  tradition;  and anyway how could they have any faith in our overstaffed and overpaid Civil Service when there might be ‘blue-shirts’ hiding in  there?

So why shouldn’t our Ministers run up massive bills for expenses and travel and live like Kings?  Sure don’t even our humble TDs treat themselves like Princelings?

So why shouldn’t a Minister spend E5O million plus on Voting Machines that will never be used and a fortune to keep them stored. Sure he thought it might be a good idea. [ who made and is still making  the money on that  transaction I wonder ]

So why shouldn’t the FAS people appointed by this government do the same as the rest of them and make our money vanish without trace? So why shouldn’t  the disgraced Chief Executive be allowed to dictate terms for his ‘retirement’ package? Sure the Minister responsible didn’t mind or even notice and the Taoiseach calls him an honourable man.

So why shouldn’t we be stuck with the worst health service in the EU?  Sure doesn’t  the Minister think it’s great.

So why shouldn’t our Ceann Comhairle employ a personal staff of 10 to mind him and keep an eye on things? Didn’t he spend over half a million on travel and expenses in his 5 years as Minister for Sport and Tourism without even knowing it and he doesn’t want  that to happen again. Let’s wait and see. 

The vast sums of money wasted by the people we trust to look after our affairs could have kept hospital wards open, replaced/repaired substandard schools et cetera, et cetera. How many vital operations were postponed or cancelled due to lack of money? How many men, women and children died because the money needed to look after them had been squandered by our elected representatives? How many people have they in effect murdered?

 I could go on and on and on ad infinitum about Quangos, multiple pensions et cetera, et cetera but what’s the point? And remember, we are responsible for the lot because we put those people in there and, God forgive us, we are letting them stay there. 

What would the men of 1916 think of the present state of affairs in the Ireland they died for, and of the people who are responsible?  How would James Connolly view it? How would Michael Collins view it?  Would he think that it is time for the formation of another ‘Special Duty Squad’, another ‘12 Apostles’?  He would have no problem getting Volunteers.

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7 Responses to Eamon de Valera – Man and Myth

  1. Mikki says:

    This a good account but it is not totally accurate. De Valera was never sentenced to death. He never received a trial either. He surrendered on his own to the British in 1916, bringing with him a captured British soldier to ensure his own safety. This was a man who didn’t allow a shot to be fired by his men in Bolands mill, and who did nothing at all to help Michael Mallone and the others at Mount Street Bridge. They were not from his battallion but were in his area of command, making him technically their commander, and the one who refused to resupply them leaving them to eventually be shot by the British. As for the myth of him being an American citizen or any of the other excuses for him not being tried and executed, it is all false. The British knew it was in their interest to keep him in place, and pretty much all subsequent history shows that was the case. As for him being an American citizen: not so, he was a British citizen and he retained his British citizenship all his life, including when he was Taoiseach and President as he always travelled on a British passport. I think this atricle is good, it shows we are slowly waking up to the role this man De Valera played in destroying so much good in our country, and I agree we need to continue in this journey.
    f

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  3. DeValera’s obtained a teaching post in Rockwell on the basis of his mathematical work, so he left Blackrock consequently his BA from the Royal University was awarded as a pass to him. His field of study and interest in abstract algebra would be what we term Mathematical Physics now, his academic creditentials were recognised by his peers when he was elected Chancelor of the NUI in 1920. Liaising with Erwin Schrödinger, DeValera helped using the Irish embassy in Rome for Schrodinger escape NAZI Germany in 1939 and come to Ireland, where the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies had been established by DeValera, in 1943 the whole cabinet was brought by DeValera to attend a lecture by Schrodinger.
    Ok if you disagree with him politically but at least be fair and dont try and be little someones abilities as a way to reinforce you prejudice against him.

    • Duncan says:

      De Va Lera belittles himself and us all by his actions alone. He needs no assistance from the author of this informative and accurate piece. His, Dev, destruction of Irish culture and civil, political and legal life in this country for crass money is shameful and should cannot be overstated. There is no political disagreement here just a stating of known facts about a venal short sighted chancer politician who stymied openess and freedom of political discourse, and handed the running of some of the institutions of the state to the church, suffer the children indeed. Bad men can do good but that doesn’t change who they are, or excuse their failures.

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  6. Brian O Neill says:

    when the truce was called this man stopped the fight for freedom and started his fight for power.
    He destroyed Ireland . If the civil war never happed we would be 32 by now .Collins was not stopping at 26 , Dev knew he would have to be answerable to Collins .He was to ruin or kill him first , before that ever happened. He sent him over to london to ruin him but that failed so he called for the civil war, DEV destroyed this country for power while Collins never stopped fighting for Ireland . Where would Ireland be today if there was no civil war.

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