Thursday, April 1, 2010
1851 - August 4, 1927
With the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914 Dillon accepted Redmond’s decision to follow Britain’s support of the Allied war effort, but he abstained from recruiting for the Irish divisions. The 1916 Rising took the Irish Party by surprise. He intervened with David Lloyd George to halt the 90 sentences of execution pronounced by "field court-martial" (in camera without defence or jury) under martial law by General Maxwell after he declared the rebellion “treason in time of war”.
Dillon insisted that if they went ahead they would "fill the whole country" with the same type of radicals, as opposed to imprisonment. This, he said would leave the radicals with as many supporters as could "fit in a single gaol cell". He attacked the Government in the House of Commons and declared that the rebels were "wrong", but had fought "a clean fight". His intervention resulted in a halt to the executions after the fifteenth, though it was apparent how unbridgeable the chasm in Anglo-Irish relations had become following the Rising. The secret manner of the trials and executions had changed public opinion into sympathy for the rebels.