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The emergence of Unionism

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THE EMERGENCE OF UNIONISM IN IRELAND Unionism as a political tradition can be traced back to that strand of late 17th and early 18th century patriotism which held full political integration with Great Britain. Unionism as an organised political movement dates from 1885 (in response to home rule) and was dependant upon the economic development of Ulster. With the prospect of a general election .The Irish Loyal And Patriotic Movement was formed on 1st May 1885. The initiative had been taken by a small group of protestant landowners and academics whose aim was to co-ordinate electoral opposition to home rule candidates. They sought to encourage unionist support in the southern counties. Unionists believed that home rule would bring about undesired change. They argued Catholics would soon have the run of the country and that 'home rule would mean Rome rule' especially the southern counties; Where the population was predominately Catholic. Unionists believed their identity and culture was in danger of reform; If not total abolition. They Feared their strong tradition stemming from Anglican roots would eventually disintegrate. There was also, a land issue; economic fear that Catholic people would own much more of the land than Unionists were willing to give. ...read more.


They shared the same economic interests should home rule spiral out of control ie progress to the division of land. They endeavoured to bombard the british mainland with anti- home rule propaganda, and maintained a constant channel of communication. Gladstone successfully retained his position in the general election of 1892. The Irish question was still his burning passion. He argued extensively that unionists who reject the democratic rights of the majority (regarding the whole Island) are being unreasonable. He declared his 'chief political interest was to pacify Ireland' The second home rule bill would quickly follow the 1892 election. Being introduced in February 1893. A succession of conservative MPs flooded into Ulster to remind unionists that Britain would again, not desert them in their hour of need. In Westminster debating in the house of commons lasted for more than 80 days; as Saunderson adapted the waiting it out tactics of Charles Stewart Parnell; MP for home rule. The second home rule bill was accepted in the house of commons, but rejected in the house of lords. The final outcome for unionists was a great triumph. ...read more.


Theobald Wolffe Tone; citing 'Englands difficulty will be Irelands opportunity.' On (Easter week) 24th April 1916 @ 12 noon, the city of Dublin was taken over by Irish Republicans, fighting for Irish independence from Britain. Many buildings in the city centre were destroyed and over four hundred people were killed. Including some civilians. It would be the beginning of the end for British rule in Ireland. On 6th December 1921 after continued political debate between Britain and Ireland. stemming from the war of 1916. Michael Collins (1890-1922) (minister for finance in the first Irish Dail) and Arthur Griffith (1871-1922) (president of the Irish Dail 1919/20 in De Valeras absence and again in 1922) Plenipotentiary Representatives of Ireland; travelled to Downing Street where after long debate, they Signed an official document. The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in the presence of British prime-minister David Lloyd George, which set free 26 counties in Ireland out of a possible 32. It gave dominion status and a remarkable degree of political autonomy. Unionism had faced a monumental defeat in the South, East and West of Ireland. There only remained for protestants the North of the Island. (which today in 2006 sits at 51-49 percentage in favour of protestants.) Sir Edward Carson continued to be involved within various areas of politics. He remained leader of the Unionist movement until 1921. ...read more.

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