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Searc's Web Guide to John Joseph O'Kelly (1872-1957)
John Joseph O'Kelly was born and educated on Valentia Island, County Kerry. He became a journalist in Dublin where he joined the Gaelic League and in 1900 he published a series of essays entitled 'Amugha i mBaiblean' in the League's journal An Claidheamh Soluis. In 1901 O'Kelly became a founder member of the Céitín Branch of the Gaelic League [named after Seathrún Céitín] and edited the Branch's journal Banba. O'Kelly was also a member of the Celtic Literary Society which included Arthur Griffith and Maud Gonne among its members.
In 1904 O'Kelly published a volume of essays Saothar ár Sean i gCéin. He joined Sinn Féin at its inaugural meeting on November 5th, 1905. In the following years he published a biography of Brian Boru entitled Brian Bóirmhe (1906); a collection of stories Scéaluidhe Éireann and Leabhar a Laoitheadh (1912). O'Kelly became a member of the Executive of the Gaelic League and editor of the Catholic Bulletin in 1914.
Following the 1916 Easter Rising O'Kelly joined the Irish National League and became Treasurer of the Irish National Aid and Volunteer's Dependents Fund for the relief of prisoners and their families. In February, 1917 he was arrested and deported to England where he was interned without trial for several months which he later recounted in Stepping Stones (1934). On his release O'Kelly was elected to the Provisional Committee of the newly merged Irish National League and Sinn Féin, thereafter called Sinn Féin. O'Kelly was elected President of the Gaelic League and was elected to the Dáil for Louth in 1918.
He opposed the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty and was elected to the Executive of the Second Dáil in 1922. O'Kelly was elected President of Sinn Féin in 1926 and in 1931 he published The Sinn Féin Outlook from which the extract below is taken. O'Kelly published many volumes of biography, including: Cathal Brugha (1942); A Trinity of Martyrs (1947) and Ireland's Spiritual Empire (1952).©
John Joseph O'Kelly (1872-1957)
All political parties with the lust for power in the Freak State have developed a
disposition to trace their paternity to Sinn Féin, or, in some ingenious way, claim kinship
with it, associating themselves periodically with what it suits them to call its days of
glory, or recalling sentimental ties with its pioneers and its early activities.|
Though the whole daily press used the name as a label of odium down to the Proclamation of Dáil Éireann in 1919, Sinn Féin had become a real force in our national life in 1917, when, under the inspiration of Cathal Brugha, it played a worthy part in defeating conscription, as a result of which it was enabled to finance and direct the General Election of 1918, call Dáil Éireann into being, and act as its political arm from that day to this.
Requiring a pledge of loyality from its approved candidates - as well as the Oath taken by deputies to defend the Republic against all enemies, foreign and domestic - it financed and more decisively won the General Election of 1921; took the risk of effacing itself by its self-restraint in the interest of harmony in 1922, and financed in great part the General Election of that year. The extent of its financial contribution to the national struggle of those four years may be gauged from the fact that the election deposits refunded to those who deserted after it had helped them well up the political ladder aggregated some £35,000.
Nor is it to be forgotten that some £10,000 of Sinn Féin general funds is still retained in Chancery by the Free State. While these skeltons lie in scattered cupboards there will be spasmodic compliments to Sinn Féin - little essays in appeasement and association which will generally be appreciated for the window-dressing they actually are.
Strange those professing disciples of Sinn Féin never refer to the obligations imposed on them by the Organisation when it adopted the Democratic Programme promulgated by Dáil Éireann, January 1919.
That Democratic Programme, which Sinn Féin made the kernal of its economic aims, and which was subscribed by all its members, emphasised the national duty of making Ireland an economic unit as self-contained and self-supporting as possible, urged the restriction of trusts and of the acquisition of national resources by foreign capital, committed itself to the establishment of a separate Irish gold reserve and credit structure, the prevention of the undue export of capital, the establishment of a merchantile marine under native control, the inauguration of a national housing scheme, not a vulgar jumble of unstable structures, in great part imported.
It emphasised the need of reducing the size of large estates and grazing ranches and sub-dividing them into economic holdings; declared that the nation's mineral deposits, fisheries, harbours, should be exploited in the interest of the people; that the shipment from Ireland of food and other necessaries should be prevented until the wants of the people were fully satisfied; that legal procedure should be simplified with subsequent reduction of legal expenses; above all, that the country should be ruled in accordance with the principles of Liberty, Equality and Justice for all, and the sanctity of the home not violated.
At the Ard Fheis of 1927 we elaborated this programme; at Ard Fheis after Ard Fheis since then, we have investigated the whole national position; shown how Ireland has been plundered through republican confiscations, rack-rents, over-taxation, absentee-drain, pension list; how she has been crippled economically, intellectually, physically, by Navigation Laws, Penal Laws, enforced illiteracy, outlawry, compulsory service in England's army and navy, wholesale eviction, artificial famine, incessant emigration.
We have shown that her economic salvation is not in concentrating on the English market, not in high protection or selective protection, in taxing boots and clothes and the necessaries of life to maintain a bureaucracy at the expense of the plain people.
Rather it is in assured and conserved national markets for wheat, oats, potatoes, fish and kindred things, for boots, clothing and the like, thus fostering desirable industries to absorb an expanding population and stem the tide of emigration, and virtually compelling an enlightened education policy to ensure the necessary skilled labour.
And, not less if not more important, the Government of the Republic, to which we give unquestioning allegiance, has issued a draft constitution which can be fashioned into a National code worthy of this deathless nation with its fifteen hundred years of glorious Christian history. © Searc's Web Guide 1997-2008