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September 2014

Home rule

Archive: Irish Home Rule and the Ulster Pact | North Ireland

On September 28, 1912, 237,368 men and 234,046 women in northern Ireland and beyond signed the Covenant and the Ulster Declaration, pledging to oppose Home Rule, then debated by the British government.

the third autonomy bill – which did not achieve full independence but transferred power from London – was fought by the Unionists, who wanted to maintain Ulster’s position within the United Kingdom.

A document based on the 17th century Scottish National Pact was written to serve as a solemn oath.

Manchester Guardian, September 20, 1912: click to read full article.

He bound those who had signed it to

supporting each other to defend, for ourselves and for our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the UK, and using whatever means may be deemed necessary to defeat the current plot to create an autonomous Parliament in Ireland.

A separate statement was drafted by the Ulster Women Unionist’s Council in which women are committed to “Let us join the men of Ulster in their uncompromising opposition to the autonomy bill. “

Ulster Declaration for Women, Manchester Guardian September 11, 1912
Manchester Guardian, September 11, 1912: click to read full.

September 28 was declared Ulster Day, and meetings were held across the region to mobilize support. On the same day, many Protestant churches organized special services and many factories in Belfast closed to allow workers to join the crowds at Town Hall; Sir Edward Carson was the first to sign. The women signed the Declaration near Ulster Hall.

Copies of the document were signed at over 500 locations across Ulster and further afield in England and Manchester over the following weeks.

Ulster Pact in Manchester, Guardian October 7, 1912
Manchester Guardian, October 7, 1912: click to read full article.

Some saw in the Home Rule bill the ignorance of English politicians and party politics. A letter to the Guardian claimed that “to the average Englishman Ireland means a troublesome island somewhere in the Atlantic, where the natives run half-naked over blossoming shillelagh bogs while behind them hides a mysterious known conspirator under the name of “the priest” … ”

The author suggested that a bill should be drafted by businessmen of all stripes, making it “satisfactory to everyone in Ireland except a few Orangemen and Molly Maguires. ‘

Letter on the Ulster Alliance, Manchester Guardian October 26, 1912
Manchester Guardian, October 26, 1912: click to read full.

The legality of the Covenant has also been called into question and criminal proceedings have been brought against several signatories.

Ulster Covenant criminal case, Manchester GUardian October 4, 1912
Manchester Guardian, October 4, 1912

The Autonomy Bill was adopted by the Commons, but was defeat in the Lords in January 1913. It would have been adopted, but when World War I broke out, the matter was put on hold.

In October 1912, while the bill was still hotly debated in parliament, the Guardian correspondent in Belfast suggested that, faced with lower than expected turnout, Unionist leaders were forcing “non-voters” to sign.

He also wrote that “those who put their names on the Covenant on ‘Ulster-day’ are the culmination of militant unionism.” In this he was prophetic; the unionists selected 100,000 men from among those who signed the pact to be trained in the use of firearms as the first force of ulster volunteers.

Ulster Pact, Manchester Guardian October 18, 1912
Manchester Guardian, October 18, 1912: click to read full articles.

Learn more about the Ulster Covenant, search for documents and view original signatures on the Northern Ireland Public Archives Office website, which digitized both the Covenant and the Declaration.

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Home rule

Irish Home Rule political cartoons acquired by the Great Hunger Institute (PHOTOS)

The Great Hunger Institute of Ireland at Quinnipiac University has acquired a collection of 29 Irish political cartoons from the 1885-1914 “Home Rule” period, when Irish nationalists fought for independence from Great Britain.

Gerard Morgan, from County Mayo, donated the cartoons. He has written several books on 19th century Irish history, including “Sending out Ireland’s Poor” and “Mayo: A County History”.

“For historians [the cartoons] are a great resource, but also for students of visual culture because they are beautiful and very powerful images ”, founding director Christine Kinealy said in a press release.

The Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac is a scientific resource for the study of Great Hunger, promoting research and fostering understanding of Ireland’s greatest tragedy through lectures, lectures, artifacts and courses.

“These paintings are a unique resource that can be used to better understand this period in Ireland,” said Kinealy.

“The cartoons seem particularly relevant this week in the run-up to the Scottish referendum, and some of the old arguments against Irish independence play out in the context of Scotland.”

The images originally appeared in St. Stephen’s Review, a weekly political magazine published in London that opposed Irish independence (depicted in the cartoons).

The cartoons opposed to Home Rule are the work of English cartoonist and satirist William Mencham, who used the pseudonym “Tom Merry”.

The cartoons sympathetic to Home Rule, which appeared in the Freeman Weekly, are by Walter Charles Mills, born in County Tipperary in 1853. He often built his images around the characters of Erin, the beautiful woman symbol of Ireland , and Pat, the decent and reliable Irish farmer.

“The Ugly Boy and His New Clothes” – November 26, 1887.

The painting depicts William O’Brien, a nationalist journalist who represented Ireland in the British Parliament, as a naughty child. When he was arrested and jailed in 1887 for organizing a “rent strike” in County Cork, which was part of a larger agitation for land reforms, he refused to wear a prisoner’s uniform. His supporters smuggled a Blarney tweed suit into prison – a suit O’Brien later liked to wear in the British House of Commons.

‘The Modern Perseus’ – March 16, 1889.

The painting borrows from Greek mythology, Perseus being a dashing hero who saves Andromeda from a sea monster. In the context of the Home Rule debate, the beautiful woman personifies Ireland, while the “unacceptable” side of Ireland is portrayed as a monster that can only be controlled through the use of “coercion”. These unattractive stereotypes of Irish nationalists were rife.

‘Through the Green Glass’ – July 13, 1889.

The painting depicts William Gladstone reading a newspaper article titled “The Irish Question”. Gladstone literally reads the newspaper through green glasses – symbolizing his sympathy for Ireland. At this point, Gladstone was almost 80 years old, but still politically active. In 1892 he became British Prime Minister for the fourth time, and one of his electoral promises was that he would give Home Rule to Ireland. When Gladstone died in 1898, Irish Home Rule was more elusive than ever.

“The duty of the hour” – March 4, 1911.

This painting was donated with the “Weekly Freeman”, who supported Irish Self-Government (Home Rule). The beautiful female figure ‘Erin’ is used to personify Ireland and its struggles for independence. The National Fund referred to was founded to support the parliamentary campaign to win Home Rule and to counter “the powerful and unnatural combination of factionalism and unionism that is opposed to us”. The building in the background symbolizes the old Houses of Parliament in Dublin, which had been sold to the Bank of Ireland in 1800 when the Irish Parliament was abolished. The caption says, ERIN – “Everything is going well in Westminster, and your job, Pat, is to make the party there even better. That is why the War Chest is the duty of the moment.

“Wait a little Ulster” – March 2, 1912.

This cartoon was distributed with the “Weekly Freeman”, a Dublin-based newspaper which supported Irish independence. The cartoon provides an unsympathetic take on the people of Ulster’s opposition to Irish independence. The man in the middle, Augustine Birrell, was an English-born politician based in Dublin Castle. He is portrayed as a man of reason, who tries to reassure the people of Ulster that Home Rule will not threaten their civil and religious freedoms. Pat – the voice of nationalist Ireland – remains skeptical of the motivations of those who opposed Home Rule.

Quinnipiac University is a private, coeducational, non-sectarian institution located 90 minutes northeast of New York City and two hours from Boston. The political cartoons are on display in the Lender Family Special Collections Room at the Arnold Bernhard Library.

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Irish Home Rule and the Scottish Referendum 1914-2014

This is the centenary year of the enactment of the Third Self-Government Bill, as well (of course) as the year of the Scottish Independence Referendum. Yet the centenary conversation in Ireland and the somewhat more vigorous debate over Scottish independence have been conducted – for the most part – quite separately.

While it would be wrong to push the analogies too far, there are some striking similarities – and some differences – between the Home Rule debate of 1912-14 and the current Scottish independence debate. These similarities (and even distinctions) might well give the protagonists of Scotland’s ‘Yes’ and ‘Better Together’ camps food for thought – and indeed, there is evidence that Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond ruminated as a result.

A critical difference between Ireland in 1914 and Scotland in 2014 is that of militancy – Ireland on the eve of World War I being an armed camp comprising the Ulster movements and Irish volunteers, opponents and supporters of Home Rule, as well as the British Army. . The Scottish political debate has not been militarized and there is no indication that it will become so (the Scottish National Liberation Army, for example, has never posed a significant threat). Modern Scottish nationalism has developed as an entirely constitutional and peaceful phenomenon.

Of course, mainstream Scottish nationalism only recently emerged, through the successive Holyrood elections, as a majority phenomenon. But he never had to rise to the challenge (taken up by Irish nationalism a century ago) of dismissing a majority of elected officials, while encountering long resistance in London.

One aspect of the Irish experience in 1914 was that a heavy constitutional debate, heightened political expectations, and the delay or disappointment of those expectations (with Unionist resistance and the onset of the war), combined to create a chemistry very volatile policy. The hardening of expectations for change across Scotland in 2014 means that national aspirations (as well as social and economic) may need to be addressed swiftly and sensitively, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

Sir Edward Carson, leader of the Irish Unionist Party, inspecting members of the Ulster Volunteer Force. The UVF was founded in 1913 by the Ulster Unionist Council to resist the implementation of Home Rule. Q 81759 Imperial War Museums. IWM Non-Commercial License via Wikimedia Commons.

A critical dimension of this activism in 1914 was the uncompromising support given to the Unionist paramilitary Ulster by the British Conservative leaders – this in part a symptom of the deep divisions in British and Irish politics and society precipitated by the Home Rule debate. . Strikingly, both the Home Rule issue in 1914 and the referendum in 2014 each attracted an unusually wide range of declarations of allegiance from a complex array of interest groups and individuals. In 1914 there was a high level of ‘celebrity’ endorsement and intervention against Home Rule: by taking only literary figures, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became a Home Ruler, while Rudyard Kipling was a strong unionist. In 2014, Irvine Welsh declared himself in favor of independence, while JK Rowling is against. Ian Rankin provides a case study of the complexity (and depth) of the division: He’s agnostic on the matter, but it’s clear his characters would have strong opinions. Thus, Inspector Rebus joins the trade unionists of 2014 (although actor Ken Stott, the most recent of TV Rebuses, would be in the “yes” camp).

The analogies between Home Rule and the Scottish independence debate, however, go far beyond the “A” list. The substantial strength and defiance of Home Rule sentiment produced a striking intellectual movement both before and in 1914, just as the strength of the Scottish independence movement produced a similar movement a century later.

In 1912-1914, the constitutional deadlock on Home Rule actually helped spur support for (then called) “federalism” among part of the Unionist elite, including even Edward Carson. In terms of the (almost) equal forces fighting for Scottish independence, Gordon Brown has now embraced the idea of ​​a federal UK; and he was joined or preceded by others, including (for example) the Scottish Conservative journalist, David Torrance. The discussion of a possible English parliament was featured prominently in 1911-1914 and again in 2014. Both in 1914 and 2014, it appears that the still-malleable UK constitutional form is once again in transition – but because trade unionists now don’t change less than nationalists.

And indeed, some Scottish nationalists have adopted at least some of the symbols of the British connection. John Redmond, the leader of Home Rule, emphasized the monarchy and empire in his view of Irish autonomy during the Home Rule era, partly out of personal conviction and partly in terms of subversion of the unionist arguments. In the same vein, Alex Salmond (despite a strong tradition of Republican sentiment within the SNP), adopted “the union of crowns” as the SNP’s strategy and has referred in recent years with deference to the queen (“d ‘Scotland’), and its central place in an independent nation.

Here, as elsewhere, Ireland’s century-old Home Rule debate evokes the current situation in Scotland. Indeed, here as elsewhere, Ireland’s broader experience of the Union coincides with that of the Scots.

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