History of the Problem

History of the Problem

  • Ulster crisis most serious problem facing Liberal government
  • Labour unrest caused economic disruption but not threat to government
  • Constitutional crisis major problem but had backing of king and able to overcome
  • Suffragettes gained publicity but had little effect on politics or governments position of power
  • Ulster crisis dangerous, arms, split nation, weakened Libs, civil war

First Home Rule Bill 1886

  • Liberal leader Gladstone split the Liberals and raised expectations for Nationals and fears for Unionists
  • Randolph Churchill wrote to Gladstone saying if Gladstone came out in favour of home rule he would not hesitate in agitating resistance beyond constitutional limits (breaking the law)
  • Churchill declared ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right’
  • Unionists concerned of weakening of union with Britain
  • Irish Nationals accepted the terms as ‘final settlement of national question’
  • defeated in Commons

Second Home Rule Bill 1893

  • Completed passage through Commons on 2nd September 1893
  • Defeated in House of Lords, with majority of Conservatives
  • As long as House of Lords able to defeat bills no need for resistance to begin in Ulster
  • However, Irish Unionists concerned major party prepared to support Home Rule
  • Hardening attitude amongst Irish Unionists form Ulster Defence Association

Growth of Unionism in Ireland

  • Majority of Unionists live in Ulster region
  • Here where resistance to Home Rule developed into major obstacle for Liberal government

Three main factors for resistance from Ulster:

One – Religion

  • 81% of Ireland Catholic in 1911
  • In Ulster Protestants held majority
  • Believed would be victimised for religion if Home Rule in Ireland
  • ‘Home Rule is Rome Rule’

Two – Political alignment

  • Growing demand for Home Rule led to polarisation of political parties
  • Conservatives Unionists held power in Ulster
  • Liberals held power along with Irish Nationals in Southern Ireland
  • Unionist party set up in 1885 before first home rule bill
  • Important as shows there was already opposition before bill and gave focus for opposition in future

Three – Economic

  • Majority of Ireland agrarian (rural)
  • Belfast (Ulster) centre of Irelands industry
  • Greater ties with British cities like Glasgow and Liverpool than with Irish cities such as Dublin
  • Ulster progressive and prosperous region of Ireland, owed much to link with Britain for market and materials
  • Had vested economic interest in remaining part of Britain
  • Unionists worried would be forced to pay for poorer regions of Ireland if Home rule

Other resistance

  • People in Britain worried of splitting up of Empire whilst Germany were expanding
  • Worried other nations under British Empire would demand freedom if handed to Ireland
  • Many believed Irish incapable of ruling themselves without Britain

Cultural revival 1880s and 90s

  • Nationalists began revival of Irish culture to stir national pride and show difference between Irish and English
  • Began restoring the Irish language which had been in decline
  • Irish sports began to flourish such as the Gaelic Athletic Association (1884) and the Gaelic League (1893)
  • Irish Literature, dance and music became more widespread
  • Fundamental message of revival was anti-British
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