Dividing Ireland: World War I and Partition

Dividing Ireland: World War I and Partition

Dividing Ireland: World War I and Partition

Dividing Ireland: World War I and Partition

Synopsis

This book provides an original assessment of the First World War in Ireland and its consequences, the key to understanding the complexities of the Irish nation today. Thomas Hennessey explores how the War transformed the nature of the Irish and Ulster questions from devolved self-government within the UK to a free Irish republic outside the British Empire, considering such influential figures as de Valera and Michael Collins, and issues such as conscription. He examines both this process of re-evaluation, and the vital question of the consequences for Northern Ireland today.

Excerpt

In Ireland, constitutional theory and nationalist ideology met in the demesne of Irish self-government. The emergence of the home-rule movement in the 1880s revealed the sectarian nature of Irish politics, particularly in the northern province of Ulster. Until this point, Ulster Protestant voters had been divided between the two major British political parties, the Conservatives and Liberals, while a small section of extreme loyalists identified with Orangism. Most Ulster Catholics, on the other hand, tended to support Charles Stewart Parnell's Irish Parliamentary Party, commonly called the Irish Party, which in 1885 had seized seventeen of the province's thirty-three seats at Westminster. The decision of the Prime Minister, W.E. Gladstone, to grant home rule led to the revival of the Orange Order, which had originally been formed in Armagh in 1795 against a background of sectarian faction-fighting. From the 1880s it formed a powerful cross-class alliance of Protestants who feared the implications of home rule. The first two Home Rule Bills, in 1886 and 1893, had been defeated in Parliament, and it was not until 1910 that the possibility of home rule returned. Following the 1910 general elections, Herbert Asquith's Liberal Party relied upon the parliamentary support of Parnell's successor, John Redmond, to secure a House of Commons majority After the passage of the 1911 Parliament Act, which restricted the ability of the House of Lords to reject Commons legislation, it appeared that the final obstacle to home rule had been removed. It now seemed that Redmond was to secure the goal which had eluded his predecessor.

In 1912 the Liberal Government introduced the Government of

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