Gradually the importance of our demand for a more definite forward policy for Irish Volunteers is making headway in advanced circles. Everybody is realising that in the contest between Mr Redmond and the Nationalist Volunteers all the advantages are on the side of Mr Redmond. He has a policy, he has an elaborate organisation, he has tools thoroughly unscrupulous in every art necessary to win success, his followers are coolly determined to wipe out every form of opposition, and to ruin every opponent morally, politically and socially. Against this the Provisional Committee are pinning their faith to the success of a mere attempt to preserve the position as it was in Ireland before Mr Redmond's debut as a recruiting sergeant. This is manifestly impossible. The conditions that existed in Ireland before the treason of Mr Redmond and the Manifesto of the Provisional Committee  were radically different from those at present existent. The Provisional Committee cannot restore the past, cannot stand still, it must go forward or go under. It must realise that Mr Redmond must now destroy the Provisional Committee, root and branch, or forever lose his influence with the British Government. Rather than lose this influence the followers of Redmond and Devlin  will be set on to destroy every man and woman of character and independent thought in this country, and will use for that purpose every foul means that baseness can devise and money purchase. Against men playing for such a stake with such weapons nothing can avail except an aggressive, forward move on to new and higher National ground.
That new and higher ground I have already indicated in last week's issue.  Mr Redmond has abandoned secretly the recruiting, but openly still declares that Irishmen should enlist for England because we have got a Home Rule Bill on the statute book. In face of this attitude, the only sane and safe stand for Nationalists to take is to demand the immediate establishment of a Parliament in Ireland, possessing every power and attribute denied to Mr Redmond's parliament, but possessed by the parliaments of Australia, Canada and South Africa. Such a stand would be legal in fact, although revolutionary in essence. To combat this position Messrs Redmond and Devlin would either have to fight against the attempt to secure a better Bill for Ireland, or to defend the Bill as it now stands, which means also defending its position of being subject to an Amending Bill.
But the attempt to do either would be fatal to the Redmondite Volunteers. They cannot go forward, without discrediting Messrs Redmond and Devlin. Equally is it true that the Provisional Committee cannot stand still without losing everything that differentiates it from its rival. It must move forward-or perish. If the Redmondites abandon recruiting they will be in a position to swamp their opponents, as the Provisional Committee will have no distinctively national ground of difference to which they can appeal. That being the case the country will of course rally to the side of the Parliamentary Party - the side with money, organisation, a powerful Press, and social and political prestige.
To avert that catastrophe there is only one course possible - the forward policy.
Forward! Forward! Forward!
1. Which repudiated Home Rule leader John Redmond and his support for the British war effort.
2. Joseph Devlin was Redmond's lieutenant in the north.
3. In the article "A Forward Policy for Volunteers" (see Collected Works I (New Books, Dublin 1987, p.444-48).
Republished in Red Banner, No. 6 (PO Box 6587, Dublin 6).