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The End Of The Hay Plan

The Hay Plan & Conscription In Ireland During WW1

7. The End Of The Hay Plan
By now, the 'Hay plan' was effectively over. The reason for this, as suggested by Jerome Aan De Wiel was due to 'political considerations and political rivalries'. [78] Lord Derby was attached to the Foreign Office, which Lloyd George mistrusted. Hay himself believed that the government were afraid 'of their own action because of the Ulster opposition, and I gathered at the time that I was sacrificed'. [79]

The end of the Hay plan began on 10 August, when the Ministry of Information received an order to send Hay for a medical examination. Hay's superior, S.A. Guest, answered that he would only do so if he received a personal order from Lloyd George. Nevertheless, five days later, on 15 August, Hay was obliged to go for the medical examination after being declared medically unfit for active service. [80] Moreover, Hay who was expected to see Cardinal Logue on 17 August, could no longer do so. In addition to this, Watt informed Hay that Logue's letter was now in Clemenceau's hands and the British government was studying the plan. Much of this surprised Hay who believed that everything had been arranged before he left for Paris and Ireland on 30 July. [81]

Hay also told Sutherland that Logue might fear a 'plot against him'. Consequently, he proposed sending a letter to Logue to reassure him, with Sunderland stating that the letter required approval by Samuel Watt. Watt accepted Hay's suggestion but stressed that the letter should be sent from Paris so that Cardinal Logue would believe that he had indeed been in talks with the French government. [82] Hay, pretending to be at the Conseil Superieur de Guerre, the supreme war council at Versailles, wrote two letters to Logue who received at least one, which reassured the cardinal that 'the matter….is being discussed in detail by the competent authorities which argue that there is every chance of success'. [83]

Following this exchange, Hay never heard from Logue, and the guarantees that Hay promised Logue from Lloyd George never arrived. [84] Finally, on 5 September 1918, Hay made a suggestion to Shortt informing him that he would send a letter to Logue explaining to him that the policy, which he had agreed to in August, was no longer in operation. The reason may not lie with the execution of the plan, but in the way, the war was going. The German offensive that had begun in March, had by 17 July, stopped. In addition, the German armies were now in retreat towards Flanders, [85] so when Hay proposed his plan, the allies would have accepted anything to get Ireland on side. This was short lived owing to the British army's attack on the Hindenburg line on 8 August, the last German stronghold. It is hardly surprising therefore to think that Lloyd George believed that victory was but weeks away. [86]

With this in mind, the need for Irish recruits enlisting in the French army was but a distant nightmare. Victory would not only be assured over Germany, but more importantly Sinn Féin and Irish Nationalists. This was not the end of the crisis. As the weeks progressed, the calls for further recruitment by any means continued.

By September, the recruitment campaign proposed by Lord French had been extended to the middle of October [87],however, this did not have much success either. In conclusion, the campaign which had the greatest opportunity of success ended not with the victory against the Hindenburg line but the in fighting that existed within the government which in turn laid to rest any hope that Britain had in enforcing conscription in Ireland – forever.

Author: Dave Hennessy

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