8th April 1886. Struggle for the Irish Free State.

An 1801 Act abolished the Irish Parliament: later and up to World War I, there were four Bills relating to Home Rule. 

It was Today in 1886 that Liberal, Prime-Minister, Gladstone, introduced the first Bill, allied with the Irish Nationalists.

However the vote was lost owing to opposition from the Liberal Unionists (later to move to the Tories). The second Bill in 1893 was defeated in the Lords (1). 

In fact it was only by allying with the Nationalists that the minority Liberals (Salisbury’s Tories having more seats), maintained parliamentary control between 1892-95.

Pre-World War I, matters had deteriorated with a Royal Proclamation (December 4th 1913), banning the importation of arms after gun-running in Dublin and Belfast.

Unionist Protestant, Edward Carson seeing the danger of government compromise with the Catholic Nationalists became more hard line, and March 1914 saw the curious incident at the Curragh, when British Army officers threatened to resign if they were expected to repress Ulster opposition forces.

The 3rd Home Rule Bill of 1912, was again rejected by the Lords and only over-ruled by using the 1911 Parliament Act, which had limited their ability to delay legislation.

It wasn’t until September 1914 and the Royal Assent, that the Bill was enacted after The Commons accepted a Lord’s Amendment in August to exclude Ulster from the Union.

This Act was the first which devolved government within the UK. However war intervened before any measures could take place.(2)

By September Carson was urging The Ulster Volunteers to join the army against a new enemy: Germany.

The 4th and final Home Rule Bill saw the Government of Ireland Act 1920 resulting in the 1921 Treaty which separated the mainly Protestant Ulster, of six counties, from the Catholic, Irish Free State. Independence came in January 1922.

However this only came about after the bloody Irish, Civil-War (1916-21), when the infamous ‘Black and Tans’, imported to help the Royal Irish Constabulary, created a reign of violence and terror.

One can only surmise whether future troubles could have been avoided if the Catholics in south Ulster had been attached to the Free-State, in the Treaty, as considered by the Lloyd George Coalition.

(1)  The  Bill was rejected by the Commons (343-313 (93 Liberals voted against).

(2) In 1912 Churchill then a Liberal considered that Home Rule for Ireland could be a first step towards Federal Government which might be extended to other regions of the UK..

The Morning Post however said on September, 13th that it seemed the first step towards the Restoration of the [Saxon] Heptarchy.

Ref: government_of_ireland_bill_1886.

Ref: bbc.co.uk./britain/home-rule.

Ref: irishtimes.com/curragh.

Ref: Biography of Lloyd George, Hattersley. 2010 Little Brown.

 

 

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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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