Further Development of Crisis

Development of crisis

  • As soon as Parliament act became law preparations for resistance began
  • Coordinated by Edward Carson, leader of Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party
  • And James Craig, leader of Ulster Unionist Council
  • September 1911 Craig organised mass meeting of Orange Order members
  • 50,000 attended and heard Carson condemn the forthcoming bill
  • Urged Unionists to resist
  • September 28th 1912 the Solemn League and Covenant drawn up by Carson
  • The signers declared they would resist home rule through any means necessary
  • Signed by 250,000 men, almost as many women signed
  • Some signed in their own blood to show their belief in the  matter
  • Shows seriousness and size of opposition to Home Rule

Paramilitary organisations

  • In January 1913 the resistance became far more serious
  • The Ulster Volunteer Force were formed (UVF)
  • These were a paramilitary force whose senior offices had served in the British Army
  • By March 1914 they had 100,000 members
  • In response the Nationalists in the South set up a rival group
  • The Irish National Volunteers
  • The creation of two paramilitary groups fuelled by opposing beliefs meant civil war became a real possibility
  • Asquith’s government banned the importation of arms to Ireland in December 1913

Conservative opposition

  • Opposition to home rule was well established by 1912
  • Leader Andrew Bonar Law declared ‘I can imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster can go in which I would not be prepared to support them’
  • He basically advocated violence by the Ulster men in resistance to Home Rule
  • Conservatives were strong believers in the Empire and did not want to weaken it
  • They were deeply resentful of the reduction of the Lords power
  • They argued Home Rule was only being introduced as the Liberals were dependant of the Irish Nationals
  • They had been out of office since 1096 and saw Home rule as a chance to increase popularity

Curragh Mutiny March 1914

  • Army units in Ireland controlled mainly by officers with Irish-Protestant background
  • These were overwhelmingly Unionists
  • Rumours arose that the government were to issue orders to arrest the Ulster leaders
  • 58 officers resigned their posts
  • Action was impossible as the whole army held sympathy for these defectors
  • The government appeared weak and indecisive on the matter
  • The mutiny showed that the government could not rely on the army to enforce Home Rule

Arms arrive

In April 1914 shipments of arms from Germany arrived in Ulster

  • The Germans hoping to start a civil war which would take the eye of the British army from them and weaken the military power of Britain
  • The Ulster Volunteers were now a well organised and well armed organisation
  • In June guns arrived in Dublin but were seized by the authorities
  • 3 people were killed and 40 wounded in fighting which ensued
  • Although not as well armed as the UVF the INV did become armed
  • This now saw 2 organisations armed with differing beliefs

Attempts at compromise

  • Asquith, Bonar Law and Carson had agreed that an amending bill would be introduced
  • This would contain a compromise for both sides
  • The 1st proposal was the exclusion of the Ulster states for 6 years
  • The House of Lords moved for permanent exclusion of all Ulster states
  • The government could not accept this solution as it would be deemed unacceptable by Nationalists
  • A second conference was arranged with all parties represented
  • The conference never agreed on a compromise and was abandoned with the outbreak of war
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