Kildare Observer 7 July 1928
BRITISH BOYCOTT MEETING IN NAAS
Address by Mr. Frank Ryan
Objects of League
Mr. Frank Ryan, Dublin was the principal speaker at a meeting held in Naas on Sunday under the auspices of the Boycott British League. Mr. N. P. Byrne, N.T., presided, and there were also on the platform Messrs. Liam Kelly, Dublin, and Con Lehane, Secretary of the League.
The Chairman emphasised the importance of the movement and appealed to the people to refrain from buying good of British manufacture, while, generally speaking, goods of superior quality were made in their country. The British were doing there utmost to break down the resistance of the Irish people, and those who supported English manufactures were working on behalf of England to the undoing of their own land.
Mr. Kelly said that after centuries of persecution and suffering they were now in a fair way to realise their cherished ideals. England was now fighting at the last ditch to retain her grip on the fertile soil of Ireland, but with the help of a united Irish people the last ditch would be taken and a free united Ireland would be established.
Mr. Lehane explained the objects of the League, which was to boycott all English goods. It was formed only a few weeks ago to fling back the challenge of England. They could deal a great blow at England in this country, and everyone knew how it could be done – at her commerce. There was no need for him to relate what the Irish people had suffered because of active interference of England in their affairs – there was no need to go into the reason why England should declare an unjust economic war on them. Suffice, that the war was on, and every Irish man and woman should do their part in this war. The people of Kildare had great traditions, and he was sure that the people of Naas and Kildare would live up to those traditions, and the simplest way they could do that now was to refuse to buy goods of English manufacture. If they did that, there would be a great deal done.
Mr. Frank Ryan said that their aim was to get out of the British Empire – they were fighting against mighty forces – the mighty forces of the British Empire – but they were going to succeed. They had the yellow daily press here, and the principal agents of the Empire, working on their behalf. Nevertheless, this fight was going to be carried on until Ireland was free and the British Empire broken. They were told that unemployment was very bad at the moment and that their export trade was ruined, and that there was great poverty and distress. They did not deny that there was poverty and distress, but the answer they gave to that was that distress was worldwide to-day. Unemployment existed during the Cosgrave regime, and to that regime, with its policy of supplying cheap food to the English, with its policy of neglect of Irish industries, could be directly attributed to the unemployment that was existent to-day. Thank God, at least that this crisis brought about the annihilation of the cattle trade – the trade that had ruined their country for centuries and the trade that had made it the depopulated and poverty-stricken country that it was; and the trade that had brought prosperity to no one but the big ranchers. They were asked to give in. If they gave in, was unemployment going to be ended, and were they going to enjoy an era of prosperity and peace. They were not: while they remained in economic bondage to Britain their country could not succeed, nor her industries prosper, for England would not allow it – to the detriment of their own people. Although every man, continued the speaker, is entitled to free speech, no man had a right to free treason. Would the French in time of war allow German agents free speech, or would the Germans allow French agents free speech; and would the Germans allow treason to be voiced during the Great War. They certainly would not – the only free speech that a traitor should be allowed was the right to say an Act of Contrition. Traitors here, he proceeded, are allowed to voice treason. We Irish are too soft-hearted, and that is the reason why we remain in the British Empire. Instead of persecuting traitors we protect them from people, whose interests they are working against. Down in Kilmallock a couple of weeks ago, those people who are called the “White Army,” White Army indeed – white to the gills, had the audacity to preach free treason, and the military and police were called in to protect them. That is a hopeful sign – that people realise what the White Army really is, but for such a small and insignificant body they get far too much publicity.
Concluding, the speaker said that this fight would go on, and despite a White Army or a British Army, would continue until there was only one army in that country and that was a Republican Army and Ireland was a Free and Independent Republic.
One other point he wanted to emphasis – they had been warned that if they interfered with the Treaty they would have immediate and terrible war. They had interfered with the Treaty and had got rid of the Governor General and there was no immediate and terrible war, and the reason was not because there was a Free State Army in the country, but because, as many foreign newspapers had pointed out, the Irish Republican Army was still maintained and organised.