The Problem of Ireland: 1912-22

Liberal Sunset

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Background History of Ireland

Britain's first colony (from middle ages)

Benefits of the union: strong central gov, safety, trade and financial benefits

Most Irish were Catholics compared to Protestant English

Home Rule

Wanted to stay part of Empire

Wanted own government

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Key Dates

1800 Act of Union

1886 Gladstone introduces the first Home Rule Bill which fails

1892-3 Second Home Rule Bill fails

1910 Irish National Party holds balance of power in Commons

1911 Parliament Act

1912 Third Home Rule Bill introduced

1912-13 Ulster Crisis-Ireland on brink of civil war

1914 Third Home Rule Bill passed but suspended for duration of war

1916 Easter Rising

1918 Sinn Fein win majority of Irish seats

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1919-21 War of Irish Independence

1921 Partition of Ireland

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Impact of Constitutional Crisis

Liberals lose their majority in the Commons

Home Rule at the top of the agenda

Asquith intended to introduce a limited Home Rule Bill to keep the Unionists happy

Churchill and DLG felt there should be a separate deal for Ulster

Parliament Act ensured a Home Rule Bill would be passed, there would be a minimum of 2 years before enactment as the Lords could reject it twice

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Third Home Rule Bill 1912

There would be an Irish Parliament with an elected commons with limited power

42 Irish MPs to sit at Westminster

Ulster included in Home Rule

Remond (leader of INP) saw it as only a starting point

Unionists didn't like it for the same reason as well as the inclusion of Ulster

Rejected by the Lords January 1913

Carson (the Ulster leader) would only accept it if it excluded Ulster

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The Unionist Resistance

September 1912 Carson drew up a 'Solemn League and Covenant' which 470,000 signed

Pledged to oppose any Home Rule Parliament

By January 1913 the Ulster Volunteer Force had 100,000 members

The Irish National Volunteers were set up to support Redmond

Civil war became a real possibility

Asquith banned the importation of arms into Ireland

In July 1914 a conference was set up at Buckingham Palace with:

Asquith and DLG for the government; Redmond and Dillon for the INP; Bonar Law and Lansdowne for the Unionist Party; Carlson and Craig for the Ulster Unionists

Discussions broke down

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Impact of WWI 1914-18

Maybe the parties would have reached an agreement if the negotiations hadn't been interrupted.

At first the war seemed to improve Anglo-Irish relations, the troops marched together

Redmond saw it as an opportunity to show loyalty and sent INVs overseas

However some INVs saw this as a betrayal of Ireland's claim to nationhood

Saw the war in Europe as an opportunity to strike for freedom

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Easter Rising 1916

11, 000 of the INV became the Irish Volunteers under the leadership of MacNeill

They wanted an independent republic

MacNeill saw the IV as a reserve for negotiating, but some wanted an armed rebellion

Early 1916 they began planning an uprising

Pearse didn't think it was about success or failure, rather a 'blood sacrifice'

A successful rebellion was possible if it has the support of the Irish masses

Sir Casement had gone to Germany in the hope of obtaining arms

The rebellion was organised in secrecy for security and as MacNeill was against it

Plan was to begin in Dublin with the Volunteers and spread across the country

The city would be quiet as the soldiers would be at the races

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They seized control of the General Post Office and proclaimed it their head quarters.

Also seized control of College of Surgeons and Boland's Bakery

Pearse read out a proclamation of Irish independence.

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Why did the Easter Rising fail?

It was a military failure

The plan depended on the Volunteers and they didn't participate.

Only 1,600 people participated.

Secrecy meant that few knew what was going on.

The arms from Germany were intercepted and Casement was arrested for treason.

Citizens weren't supportive.Many saw the revolutionaries as traitors, stabbing the British in the back while the Irish were fighting in the war.

It was also seen as too revolutionary by many.

Didn't spread outside of Dublin.

To begin with there were only 400 soldiers, but by the end of the week the rebels were heavily outnumbered by 20,000 British soldiers and police.

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450 rebels and civilians were killed and 2000 wounded.

The Catholic Church was against it.

Many who would've supported its aims objected to its methods.

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Condemned by the Catholic Church and Redmond and the moderate nationalists.

Asquith handed the problem over to the army-martial law.

3000 Irish were arrested.

160 were imprisoned.

15 were shot.

Because of these extreme actions public opinion changed.

People were horrified and the rebels became martyrs.

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Short Term Consequences

Failed as a military operation.

2500 Irish casualties.

15 rebels shot and 160 imprisoned.

Major destruction in Dublin.

Traditional view: Irish didn't support Easter Rising until British government's actions

However there was some support at the time e.g. outside bakery

Also we can't be sure of public opinion at the time due to the Defence of the Realm Act which meant censorship of the press.

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Long Term Consequences

Blood sacrifice, inspired people to become more radical.

Led to the rise of Sinn Fein (won 73 seats in 1918 election)

Wipes out IPP

[Other Factors:

1918 Conscription Crisis in Ireland

Catholic Church and Sinn Fein mobilised against it (SF became associated with Catholicism)

Representation of the People Act gave the vote to all men and women over 30

Previously unskilled labourers (lots in Ireland) had not had the vote]

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The Anglo Irish War 1919-21 and the Anglo-Irish Tr

In January 1919 the Irish Republic declared independence

The IRA began a guerrilla war against the British government.

Both sides realised that they couldn't defeat the other militarily so they declared a truce in 1921.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921

It established the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion within the British Empire.

It also gave Northern Ireland the opportunity to opt out of this Free State, which it did.

The Irish Free State came into force on 6th December 1922.

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Why did Civil War occur in 1922?

De Valera and his supporters refused to accept the result of the general election (75% in favour) which decided to accept the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Shows the hold republicanism has on Irish nationalists.

Attitudes had radicalised since first Home Rule Bill, wanted full independence.

Anglo-Irish Treaty did offer more than HR, but not enough.

Members of Irish Parliament would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the king.

For many accepting the treaty was a betrayal of the blood sacrifice of 1916 and those who fought in the Anglo-Irish war

But others saw it as a "stepping stone" to full independence (Michael Collins)

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Who was to blame?

Collins-signed a treaty he knew would be divisive, but thought it was the best option under the circumstances

Also helped establish violence in Ireland.

De Valera-inflammatory speeches and his resignation from the Dail. A prominent politician.

DLG and British Government- offered a treaty that would be divisive and threatened 'total war' if it wasn't excepted. Had continually frustrated Irish aspirations.

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