I felt over there in America that my first duty was to keep Irishmen at home in the only army that could safeguard our national existence. If small nationalities were to be the pawns in this game of embattled giants, I saw no reason why Ireland should shed her blood in any cause but her own, and if that be treason beyond the seas I am not ashamed to avow it or to answer for it here with my life.
And when we had the doctrine of Unionist loyalty at last, "Mausers and Kaisers and any King you like," I felt I needed no other warrant than that these words conveyed - to go forth and do likewise. The difference between us was that the Unionist champions chose a path which they felt would lead to the Woolsack, while I went a road that I knew must lead to the dock.
And the event proves that we were both right. But let me say that I am prouder to stand here today in the traitor's dock to answer this impeachment than to fill the place of my accusers. If there be no right of rebellion against a state of things that no savage tribe would endure without resistance, then am I sure that it is better for men to fight and die without right than to live in such a state of right as this.
Where all your rights become only an accumulated wrong; where men must beg with bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sing their own songs, to garner the fruit of their own labours - and even while they beg to see these things inexorably withdrawn from them - then surely it is a braver, a saner, and a truer thing to be a rebel in act and deed against such circumstances as this than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men.
My Lord, I have done. Gentlemen of the Jury, I wish to thank you for your verdict. I hope you will not think that I made any imputation upon your truthfulness or your integrity when I said that this was not a trial by my peers.