Northern Ireland

Devlin: No Human Act Can Make Ireland Two – On This Day in 1924

Nationalist MP Joe Devlin tells demonstration in Carnlough that a reunited Ireland is inevitable

'Wee Joe' Devlin won two of the United Irish League's six seats in the first election to the Northern Ireland Parliament, held 100 years ago this week
'Wee Joe' Devlin was a leading journalist, businessman and nationalist politician
June 20 1924

In the pretty village of Carnlough, nestling on the coast of Antrim, a great nationalist demonstration was held yesterday and was addressed by Mr Joseph Devlin MP, Mr George Leeke MP, and other speakers.

The chairman called upon Mr Devlin to address the meeting, and on rising to speak he was hailed with an enthusiastic outburst of cheering. When it had subsided, he said: “Fellow countrymen and women, I am indeed deeply grateful for this warm and characteristically generous welcome which you have given me today.

“We have passed through a number of years of turmoil and struggle; we have had many differences of opinion among ourselves; we may have had fundamental differences on the best methods and machinery by which we could advantage our country and secure reform; but never during those years has there been a single moment when I, as one of your countrymen, could not come among you and express my views and hear your views expressed to me.

“I am delighted at meeting my old friends who so triumphantly returned me in 1921 to represent this county. I feel deeply the circumstances which rendered it impossible for me to give you that effective service which is expected of and ought to be given by anyone invested in an elective capacity with the trust and confidence of the people.”

“Now, fellow countrymen,” continued Mr Devlin. “Your first resolution today declares your unchanging and undying conviction that Ireland is one and indivisible. No Act of Parliament, no Boundary Commission, no human act can make Ireland two, because Ireland was intended by nature and by God to be one nation.

“This little western island has no boundary but the sea – and wherever political circumstances, and wherever difficulties may have caused political division, Ireland is one, and I am convinced – as convinced as I stand on this platform today – that when the passions of these years disappear, when we get away from all the feverish controversies which have so cursed our national life in the past, when men of goodwill, whether they come from the north or from the south, settle down to realise how little Ireland is when divided, how powerful, progressive and indestructible she is when united, then, I say, we will secure a real united Ireland.”

An optimistic speech by Nationalist MP Joe Devlin, claiming Acts of Parliament nor Boundary Commissions will stop the inevitability of a united Ireland.