I moved to Ireland in 1997 and have not regretted it one day. I love the place and the people. Does that mean it is a perfect place? Of course not. I would be lying if I said there is no antisemitism in Ireland, because there is. But compared to most other European countries, it is not worse, in fact, it is probably less here in Ireland then elsewhere in Europe.
However, there have been politicians, and there are still a few, who were blatantly antisemitic. None worse though than Oliver J Flanagan.
In May 1943, as war raged across Europe and Nazi atrocities were coming to public attention, he stood as a candidate in Laois-Offaly, promising to rid Ireland of the Jewish stranglehold. This is a part of his maiden speech in the Dail (the Irish Parliament).
“I should like to co-operate with the Government or with any Party that I believed was going to introduce legislation in the best interests of the Irish nation. I should like very much to be in a position to support any measure brought forward in this House with that object, but I am very sorry that I cannot associate myself with this Bill or with anything relating to the public safety measures introduced by the Cumann na nGaedheal government or by the present Fianna Fáil government because I have seen that most of these Emergency Acts were always directed against Republicanism. How is it that we do not see any of these acts directed against the Jews, who crucified Our Saviour nineteen-hundred years ago and who crucifying us every day in the week? How is it that we do not see them directed against the Masonic Order? How is it that the I.R.A. is considered an illegal organisation while the Masonic Order is not considered an illegal organisation? You do not hear one word in these acts against the banks who are robbing the people, right, left and centre. I told the electors in Leix-Offaly that the banks were robbers. The police were listening to me. Does the Minister for Justice think that, if the banks were not robbers, the police would have allowed me to make that statement in public without attempting to make me prove it? This government is introducing an Emergency Powers Bill now to prevent the suffering masses of the Irish people from ridding themselves or the poverty, emigration, debt, seizures and a thousand and one other national ills which I could continue to enumerate in this House until this day—week, but I do not propose to waste your precious time doing so.
All that I have to say is that my heart goes out to the men who are on hunger strike today. I made a request to the Minister the other night to release these prisoners. I am sorry I made such a request. I had a right to demand it on behalf of the people who sent me here as a republican. I am demanding it now. Seán Mac Cumhaill sent me a telegram last night asking me to deny a certain statement made by the Minister. Perhaps you, Sir, would tell me if it would be in order to read this telegram to the Minister since he did not think it worthwhile.
I want to ask that the Emergency Powers Order, which prevents the division of land from taking place, be immediately lifted. The Minister for Lands wrote me some time ago to say that there was not sufficient staff in the Land Commission to deal with the division of land. How is it that there are thousands of well-educated young men being forced to take the emigrant ship, not from Galway Bay or Cobh this time to take them to the greater Ireland beyond the Atlantic, but to take them from Dun Laoghaire and Rosslare to the land beyond the Irish Sea, the land of our traditional enemy, to help England in her war effort against Germany? There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to route the Jews out of their country. Until we route the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair’s breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are, there is the honey, and where the Jews are, there is the money. I do not propose to detain the House further. I propose to vote against such Orders and actions, and I am doing so on Christian principles. The Minister for Justice could not give me a straight answer a few moments ago. I am sorry that I interrupted him in the heat of the discussion. Of course, one needs great patience to listen to what is going on. I know very well that even the clergy in the Minister’s constituency are up against him.
Father Keane, the parish priest of Athleague, is up against him, and when the clergy are up against him. surely it will be hard for any of us to support him. I thank the Chair for allowing me to make my statement.”