Home Rule for Ireland

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The Emergence of Home Rule

  • Gladstone's Irish policy during his First Ministry = little acknowledged success
  • He was the first British politician to show any interest/understanding of the Irish problems
  • Tackled the problems of lack of equal/fair treatmet in religion and land
  • Reforms were directed at suppressing Fenian demands for the repeal of the Uion 
  • Gladstone was not interested in Home Rule at this point
  • Demand for Home Rule could be regarded as the most significant outcome of his intervention
  • Gladstone had made temporary friendships with the Catholic heirarchy with the Irish Church Act
  • However, he had not yet on over the Catholic population as disestablishment was not a main grievance
  • Dissatisfaction grew with the failure of Gladstone's land reforms
  • Still poor and oppressed by their Protestant Masters 
  • Easy prey for violent extremists who tried to whip up anti-English feeling 
  • Gladstone's reforms = succeeded in disturbing the Protestant Ascendancy as its hold o power would never be secure 
  • Not altogether clear at the time = deep sense of unease among the Anglo-Irish heirachy 
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The Emergence of Home Rule

  • Disgruntled Irish Protestants lent their support to the Home Government Association (HGA) 
  • Launched in Dublin by Isaac Butt
  • Start of the Home Rule for Ireland Movement 
  • Backing of moderate nationalists, some Catholics and some Fenians 
  • Support came from both Irish Conservative and Irish Liberal MPs
  • Butt's involvement with the Fenians led to his capaign for the repeal of the Act of Union (Home Rule)
  • Butt believed in achieving political independence for Ireland through peaceful means
  • He wanted to gain self-government for Ireland legitimately through Westminster 
  • Aimed for the Irish to have complete control over their domestic affairs
  • Ireland would enjoy the advatage of a separate parliament without breaking the union
  • 1873 = HGA became the Home Rule League
  • Irish Protestant support drifted away and was replaced by strong Catholic support 
  • Irish MPs began to voice the grievaces of the Catholic tenants against the Land Act in Westminster
  • General Election 1874 = 59 Irish Home Rule supporters won seats 
  • Marked th ed of Conservatism and Liberalism in Irish politics
  • Victory for constitutional Nationalism - their aim was to achieve some sort of self-goverment for Ireland
  • Agreed to act together on this issue
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The Emergence of Home Rule

  • The Strong Home Rule representation in Parliament was a great achievement for Butt 
  • However, the Home Rulers lacked discipline and cohesiveness to ring pressure to Westminster
  • They lacked a strong leader
  • Butt did not possess the dynamismm to keep Home Rule at the top of the political agenda 
  • Believed that the Home Rule case would succeed if they were patient 
  • 1874 election = Disraeli brought into power who was more concerned about abroad than Ireland
  • After Butt's death, Parnell took over the leadership of the Irish Party in the House of Commons
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Trouble in Ireland

  • The movement gathered momentum during the 1870s against the background of the depression
  • Ireland was badly affected by the depression in agriculture as it was its main industry
  • Tenant farmers faced eviction 
  • This encouraged the activities of the Land League, which campaigned for reform
  • Gladstone came into office in 1880 and sought to repress disorder and reform discontent 
  • Policy of coercion and concilliation
  • 1886 = Gladstone introduced Home Rule which split the Liberals and brought Unionism into the party
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The Question of Home Rule

  • There were several factors that brought the question of Irish Home Rule to the political agenda 
  • Made it increasingly difficult to ignore 

The Influence of Isaac Butt:

  • Home Rule Movement stemmed from the ideas of Isaac Butt 
  • Set up the Home Government Association (HGA)
  • Worked towards a federal solution with a separate parliament in Dublin 
  • Ireland could run its own affairs
  • 1874 = Butt replaced the HGA with the Home Rule League 
  • Wide-based support among the Irish 
  • 1874 General Election = retureed 59 Irish MPs on a Home Rule platform
  • Group formed the nucleus of a strong Irish Nationalist/Home Rule Party
  • Actions directed Irish politics for the next decade
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The Question of Home Rule

The Consequences of the Ballot Act of 1872:

  • One of the reasons for success of the Home Rulers in 1874
  • Ability of the Irish voter to express himself freely at the Ballot Box
  • No fear of reprisal or eviction from Protestant pro-Union landlord 
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The Question of Home Rule

Gladstone's Failures:

  • Made himself unpopular among many of his own supporter with his Irish legislation
  • Ireland had been dealt with rather genorously 
  • Gladstone's legislation had been ol and innovative 
  • However, it did not satisfy the Irish people
  • 1870 Land Act = failure
  • Left an increasing number of tenant farmers with the feeling that independence from Britain was the only solution
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The Question of Home Rule

The Great Depression:

  • Increase in economic and social distress as the effects of the depression began to be experienced
  • Particularly in the rural south and west of Ireland
  • Increase in the number of evictions
  • Caused resentment among the tenant farmers against British dominance and the system of land tenure
  • Opportunities for Irish immigrant workers in England and Scotland had dried up
  • Created anti-British feeling and a desire for separation 
  • Many joined Michael Davitt's Land League 
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The Question of Home Rule

Impact of Pressure Groups:

  • Agitation of Irish tenants against eviction and refusal to pay rents, directed by the Land League, brought considerable pressure on Gladstone's new government in 1880 to introduce Land Reform 
  • Strengthened by the Land League's loose alliance with the Home Rule League led by Parnell
  • Parnell agitated in the House of redress for evicted tenants 
  • Pressure contribute to Gladstone's major reform of the Land Act in 1881 
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The Question of Home Rule

The Parnell Factor:

  • Parnell emerged on the Irish political scene shortly after Butt's death 
  • Home Rule movement needed a leader with his strength of purpose and dynamism
  • Decision to cooperate with the Land League was inspired and gave great momentum to Home Rule
  • Skilful management of the Irish MPs led to a strong Irish Nationalist Party
  • Held the balance of power in parliament
  • Parnell's leadership was a major factor in finally persuading Gladstone to support Home Rule
  • Parnell became the leader of Irish Nationalism
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Gladstone's Conversion to Home Rule

  • June 1885 = Irish Nationalists voted with the Conservatives over a budget amendment
  • Gladstone's government was defeated and Gladstone resigned
  • Robert Cecil formed a minority Conservative government 
  • Only survive with the support of the Irish Nationalists 
  • Salisbury was quick to introduce two concessions to the Irish and then call an election in 1885
  • Policy of coercion was ended
  • Land Purchase Act was introduced 
  • Set aside £5m to assist tenants to buy their holdings from the landlord
  • Parnell called on the Irish immigrant population to vote for the Conservatives 
  • Believed Salisbury may support Home Rule 
  • In Ireland - not one Liberal won a seat 
  • 16 Ulster Conservatives who formed the nucleus o fthe future Irish Unionists 
  • Every Irish Nationalist supported Parnell
  • Ireland had, in effect, voted Home Rule
  • Election produced an interesting result 
  • Liberals had a majority of 86 over the Conservatives
  • Irish Nationalists returned with 86 seats and held a powerful position between the two main parties
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Gladstone's Conversion to Home Rule

  • Salisbury continued as PM of a minority government until January 1886 
  • Conservatives were defeated on a vote on the Queen's Speech
  • Salisbury resigned with no election called
  • Gladstone formed a new Liberal government 
  • Prior to this, Gladstone dropped the 'Hawarden Kite'
  • Leaked to the press that he had altered his position on Ireland 
  • He now supported Home Rule
  • Proved to be one of the most momentous political decisions of the 19th century 
  • He believed the governmet should remain consistent in its Irish policy 
  • Sudden ending of coercion by Salisbury had led to new outbreaks of violence 
  • He may have feared the Conservatives might introduce Home Rule 
  • Some historians believe that Gladstone would have preferred to that to happen and thus avoid the inevitable split in his own Liberal Party
  • 1886 = Gladstone back in office as prime minister for the third time
  • Almost immediately introduced a Home Rule Bill
  • Lord Hartington declared his unwavering opposition to Home Rule
  • Gladstone continued without the support of Chamberlain 
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Gladstone's Conversion to Home Rule

  • First Home Rule Bill proposed that Ireland should have its own parliament in Dublin to take charge of all internal affairs 
  • Foreign affairs, defence and external trade would be left under the control of Westminster
  • No representation of Irish MPs at Westminster
  • Bill was met with opposition on all sides
  • Hartington faction opposed it and Churchill led to Conservative attack
  • Chamberlain resigned his post 
  • Led an attack on the bill that was defeated 343 votes to 313 
  • Personal blow for Gladstone and split the Liberals
  • Defecting Liberals, led by Chamberlain, called themselves Liberal Unionists and voted Conservative
  • Put the Conservatives in power for 20 years
  • Created conditions for an increasingly bitter divide between those who wanted independence and those who wanted to stay in the union 
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Impact of the Home Rule Issue

  • After Kilmainham Goal, Parnell emerged in 1882 and turned his attention directly to a campaign to fight for Ireland's right for some measure of political independence
  • Home Rule Movement was a powerful political force that had dramatic and far-reaching repercussions on a variety of aspects of British and Irish political, social and cultural life 
  • New Irish Nationalist party quickly gained the majority of Irish seats previously held by Liberals or Conservatives
  • Created a third party in Parliament
  • Parnell was able to make or break governments
  • Created a short period of political instability with long-term effects
  • Parnell's irritation with Gladstone led to the Irish Nationalist Party voting with the Conservatives 
  • Realised that Salisbury would not go as far as Home Rule - Parnell switched back to Gladstone
  • Liberals won the 1886 election but Irish Nationalists held the balance of powe
  • 1886 and 1893 = Home Rule was defeated
  • Gladstone resigned
  • Home Rule was dictating the frequency and outcome of elections 
  • Dominated the career of Gladstone
  • Once committed - Home Rule became accepted part of the Liberals 
  • Asquith also had to introduce Home Rule as a result of the Irish Nationalist balance of power
  • Liberals failed to focus on the serious problems of poverty 
  • Damaged Liberal reputation among working-class people  
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Impact of the Home Rule Issue

  • Began to look towards the emerging Labour Party to cater for their needs
  • Gladstone's insistence caused a long-lasting split in the Liberal Party
  • Allowed the Conservatives to dominate British politics for 20 years 
  • Liberals lost Chamberlain
  • Chamberlain and the Unionists were eventually absorbed into the Consevative Party 
  • Became the Conservative and Unionist Party 
  • Historians believe that this contributed to the rise of the Labour Party
  • Gladstone returned in 1892 
  • Home Rule was still at the top of his agenda
  • Majority was so samll that he was completely dependent on the Irish Nationalist support 
  • Bill proposed an Irish Parliament at Dublin but provided for 80 Irish MPs to sit at Westminster
  • Question of Ulster was ignored again
  • Aroused fierce debate in the Commons, but was thrown out by the Lords 
  • Defeat of Gladstone's 1893 Home Rule Bill raised the question of constitutional position of the House of Lords and its ability to veto reforms passed by the Commons
  • Gladstone wanted to dissolve parliament and call an election on the question of the revision of the power of the Lords
  • Overruled by his Cabinet
  • Home Rule issue created a deep problem between Nationalists in the south and the Unionsts in the north 
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Impact of the Home Rule Issue

  • 'Bitter polarisation' on the question of Home Rule
  • Caused an uprising in 1916 and the permanent division of Ireland into Ulster and the Irish Free State in 1922
  • Home Rule issue brought religious tensions to the surface
  • Campaign severely disrupted in 1890 when Parnell became involved in a divorce scandal
  • Rocked his party to its foundations
  • He clung to power until he died to following year
  • Sustained support for Home Rule from the Irish Nationalists throughout period of 1880-1901
  • It was inevitable that the impact of the Home Rule issue would reverberate for years to come 
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The aftermath of the Home Rule Defeat

  • Violence was never far away 
  • Parnell was disappointed over the defeat of the Home Rule Bill in 1886
  • He put forward proposals to parliament to ease the distess of the Irish tenants 
  • Rebuffed by Salisbury
  • Ireland = 'a plan of campaign' 
  • All the tenants of one landlord would act together to refuse to pay the high rents demanded 
  • Give support to anyone who was evicted as a result
  • Rerun of the Land Wars 
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Salisbury and Ireland

  • Entered office in June 1886
  • Determined to give Ireland 'resolute government' and limit the influence of Parnell
  • Gladstone had dealt with Ireland through coercion and coniliation hand-in-hand
  • Salisbury thought the government had become too soft
  • Adopted a hard-line policy from the start
  • Planning to use tough action to deal with the perpetrators of the violence and unrest
  • Only then could they address Irish grievances
  • He appointed Balfour Secretary for Ireland in 1887
  • He introdued a generous Land Act (1887) to demonstrate to the Irish tenants the government's desire to address their main grievance 
  • Improved on Gladstone's Act and allowed for further rent review
  • Balfour outlawed the plan of campaign and followed this up with a new Crimes Act
  • Gave police and magistrates special powers to deal with trouble makers
  • Violence escalated at Michelstown in 1887 - police killed three of the demonstrators
  • 'Bloody Balfour'
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Salisbury and Ireland

  • Levels of violence subsided
  • Rents were paid
  • 1890 = Balfour relaxed the Crimes Act and tried to inject a rescue plan 
  • Introduced Public Works
  • A Congested Districts Board was set up that gave grants for industrial development in overpopulated, Western areas
  • Light railways were constructed 
  • Opened up remove parts of the country
  • Balfour rewarded the Irish peasantry with further financial assistance for the voluntary land purchase scheme
  • 1891 = £33m was set aside to guarentee tenants' loans for buying land
  • 1890s = Prices were rising again and conditions were improving
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Irish Nationalism

  • Irish Nationalist push for self-government had faded after the Second Home Rule Bill in 1894
  • Bitter internal feuding kept the Home Rule Party weak and divided
  • Party split after the death of Parnell in 1891
  • Underlying support remained but there was little open rebellion
  • Salisbury's tough policy to deal with disorder followed by reform quietened the calls for HR
  • 1903 = Wyndham's Land Purchase Act 
  • Brought in terms that were avourable to the majority of tenants to buy the land they worked, and the landlord was content with the amount he paid
  • Government poured £86m into the scheme
  • 1915 = almost 2/3 of the Irish farmers owned their land
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Re-Emergence of Home Rule

  • John Redmond reunited the Irish Nationalists in 1900
  • Asquith needed the promise of the Irish Nationalist vote in the Commons to deal with the constitutioal crisis over the House of Lords
  • Given by Redmond
  • Reward = the 1911 Parliament Act 
  • Lords would no longer be able to block the passing of a Home Rule Bill
  • Asquith introduced another Home Rule Bill in 1912
  • Passed by the Common but rejected by the Lords
  • Parliament Act = only allowed a tw year delay
  • Expected that this Home Rule Bill would become a law in 1914
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Ulster, 1912-14

  • Protestant Ulster Unionists threatened to revolt if they were pushed unwillingly into a Catholic-dominated Ireland and forced to sever ties with Britain
  • The Ulster Unionists began to resist the introduction of Home Rule by mobilising forces
  • Led by Carson 
  • Whipped up support for separate treatment for Ulster
  • Recruited an 'army' of 100,000 Ulster volunteers - the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
  • Illegal organisation prepared to use force
  • Carson brought guns from Germany 
  • Organised the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, which was a Protestant plege to defend their right to remain part of the union
  • New Conservative Leader = Bonar Law
  • Resented the Parliament Act and the power it gave the Irish Nationalist MPs
  • Relations between the politicians at Westminster became tense 
  • Conservatives sought means to preserve the union
  • Bonar Law dropped a bombshell by promising Conservative help for the Ulster rebels in their defiance of the will of parliament
  • Asquith was faced with a dangerous and seemingly intractable situation
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The Curragh Mutiny

  • Liberals accepted the need to offer a special concession to Ulster
  • This would appease its Protestant majority
  • Asquith inserted an exclusion clause in the Home Rule Bill
  • It would allow the people of any Irish county to vote to opt out of a united Ireland
  • Temporary measure that would be reversed after 6 years
  • Compromise was dismissed by Carson with contempt
  • Danger of civil war became very real
  • Alarm was increased at rumours that British army officers stantioned at the Curragh would prefer to accept dismissal than fight against fellow Protestants
  • Bonar Law was implicated in this act of near treason 
  • War Minister was forced to resign after he agreed not to use the army in Ulster
  • Aquith can be criticised for weak handling of this situation in which army officers appeared to be dictating government policy, and for underestimating the seriousness of the threat from Ulster
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Re-Emergence of Irish Nationalism

  • Various movements for Irish Nationalism were emerging at the turn of the 20th century
  • Formation of the Gaelic League in 1893 encouraged an Irish Literary Revival
  • The Irish Republican Brotherhood resurfaced in Ireland at this time
  • Sinn Fein - argued for a separate independent Ireland 
  • Made little political impact before 1914
  • The Irish Labour Movement campaigned for a socialist society
  • Set up the Irish Citizen Army
  • Nothing much was heard until the Home Rule Crisis
  • They shared a dislike of English domination of Ireland
  • Preferred independence rather than Home Rule
  • November 1913 = the Irish Volunteers were formed as a response to the Ulster Volunteers
  • Nominally under Redmond's control
  • Soon infiltrated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood 
  • Ready to challenge the government if Ireland was denied its freedom
  • Sinn Fien increased its influence as Redmond's controls lipped and move towards a demand for outright independence 
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Home Rule for Ireland

  • The Home Rule Bill passed through the Commons for the third tie in May 1914
  • Still no solution for Ulster 
  • All-party conference in July failed to find an acceptable compromise
  • Arms smuggling and gun running by both the UVF and the Irish Volunteers brought Ireland on the edge of civil war
  • Home Rule was due to become a law in September 1914 
  • It was agreed to suspend the operation of Home Rule until the end of the war
  • Carson's UVF immediately signed up to join the war effort
  • Redmond persuaded the Irish Volunteers to do the same
  • Both sides hoped that their loyal action would bring the government around to their point of view
  • Aquith was relieved to shelve the problem 
  • Criticised for his 'wait and see' attitude
  • Home Rule failed to offer solution to Ireland that it needed
  • Majority of Irish Volunteers followed Redmond
  • A small extreme goup split and prepare for insurrection against the British government
  • Carried this out at Easter 1916
  • After the war, there were many troubled years ahead for both the Irish people and the British government 
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