Causes of the Easter Rising

The impact of the 1st world war on Iirsh politics was the most important factor contributing to the outbreak of the Easter Rising

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Mark Scott 14D
"The impact of the First World War on Irish politics was the most important
reason for the outbreak of the Easter Rising of 1916." How far do you accept
this verdict? Use relevant evidence you have studied including contemporary
and later interpretations to support your answer.
The impact of WWI on Irish politics was an important reason for the outbreak of the
Easter Rising of 1916, as it gave rise to a great deal of political instability, thus creating
favourable circumstances for a rising to occur. However, it was only one of a number of
other important factors such as new Nationalism, Ulster resistance, the IRB and the
leadership of the rebels. None of these alone would have guaranteed a rising. They
combined to bring about the Easter Rising.
I will examine each of these factors and then consider how they contributed to the rising.
I will also use historiography to accompany/articulate my understanding seeking
contrasting opinions from leading figures and historians.
According to Foster, the First World War should be seen as one of the most decisive
events in modern Irish history. The outbreak of war in August 1914 had a profound
impact on Irish politics and created the perfect opportunity for a rising to occur.
Firstly, the war brought about an indefinite postponement of Home Rule and created a
political vacuum which the rebel leaders of 1916 could exploit. Home Rule had been the
fundamental issue of Irish politics and although it was supposed to be introduced
following the conclusion of a short and victorious war, by 1916 the end of the war and
the promised Dublin Home Rule parliament appeared far from reality. The IPP was left
in a position of having a mandate but no clear objective to follow except to await the
outcome of events over which they had no control. This began to undermine support for
the party as people became impatient and more willing to consider alternatives. The
postponement of Home Rule also meant that many Nationalists focused on the actual
limitations of the legislation. MacNeill described Home Rule as a "cheque continually
postdated" and this caused many nationalists to question the wisdom of Irish support
for the British war effort.
While the war may have brought a truce in the Home Rule hostilities between Unionists
and Nationalists, it quickly created divisions within Nationalist ranks.
At Woodenbridge on the 20th of September 1914 Redmond made an impromptu
speech appealing to the Volunteers to serve "not only in Ireland itself but wherever the
firing line extends, in defence of right, of freedom and religion." This caused a split in the
Irish Volunteers and provided the Irish Republican Brotherhood with a small group of
armed men led by Eoin McNeill to manipulate to their advantage.
Foster argues that Redmond in making this speech had "miscalculated most
disastrously" betting on the strategy that Home Rule was fully compatible with loyalty to
the Crown. Phoenix also calls Redmond's speech "his great mistake" revealing his "lack
of touch with grassroots opinion which remained deeply distrustful of the British
Government". Others such as O Tuathaigh have argued that while it may have cost
Redmond dearly it was logical at the time on the basis that participation in the war effort
would have established a strong moral claim for Home Rule on Redmond's terms.

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Mark Scott 14D
Kitchener's refusal to trust Irish recruits to have their own units like the UVF in the 36th
Ulster division also caused great resentment. The lack of progress in the war led to the
formation of the wartime coalition government in 1915 and this included Ulster and
Southern Unionists Carson and Bonar Law. Redmond would not join as the IPP had a
tradition of independent parliamentary action.…read more

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Mark Scott 14D
Planning for the rising was carried out by a small group of highly dedicated men who
managed to keep it secret from the authorities. Four of the seven signatories to the
Proclamation were distinguished writers the socalled "Revolution of Intellectuals
Pearse, Plunkett and McDonagh, from the Gaelic League, wanted a blood sacrifice.
This commitment to the idea of a blood sacrifice ensured that a rising would be
attempted even with no prospect of success.…read more

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