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Why was Ireland such a central Issue in British politics in the first half of the nineteenth century?

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Introduction

Why was Ireland such a central Issue in British politics in the first half of the nineteenth century? Between 1801 when the act of Union was passed and in the 1840's during the Great Famine Ireland played a focal part in British politics; although Ireland was definitely a significant part of British politics in this era, fundamentally is it an accurate conjecture to say that Ireland was a 'pivotal issue' in the nineteenth century. The question in which this essay deems to undertake upon itself to answer, is vital as it will provide an insight into the Irish problem, and an explanation into the reasons, how- in retrospect, it affects us today as a result of how it was dealt with (in a series of quick fixes which prolonged the problem.) by Britain during the early to mid nineteenth century. Before beginning this essay it is important to introduce some background history, about the roots of the Irish problem. The Irish problem, which had escalated significantly by the nineteenth century, had its roots about seven centuries previously in the twelfth century. When Robert Fitzstephen and Richard the second earl of Pembroke, (know as Strongbow) who first crossed to Ireland from England in 1169 and 1170, were Norman adventurers. ...read more.

Middle

Under the terms of the Act of Union Ireland would be represented through 100 elected MPs in London, together with twenty-eight temporal and for spiritual peers (twenty eight lords, and four Bishops). This act took two years to achieve, mainly due to resistance to the change in Ireland, thus Catholic Emancipation was promised (although not passed). The problems, which arose due to this act, were profound, however they partly of Britain's own making. Britain tended to give Ireland less attention than was needed. This suggests that although the act of Union was a pressing issue within Westminster, it was a quick fix, in the short term the Irish problem was quelled but the consequences in the long-term would prove to heighten tension between Ireland and Britain exacerbating the problem. Agriculture within Ireland, was a main issue within Britain, this was where the majority of the Irish worked, It was a central issue due to a fact that many lords, politicians, and dignitaries had a vested interest in this area, - they received rent from labourers who worked their land. Much of the experiences of all the classes of agricultural workers varied according to how well estates were run and there was a diversity of experience here. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lastly a failure in Irelands potato harvest in 1845 due to the crops mono-culture which, many Irishman were relying for income, the work houses were unable to cope with the mass starvation, and the governments relief attempts were insufficient- and the liberal government of 1846 tried to keep to a non-intervention policy as best it could. By August 1847, three million people were being fed in makeshift kitchens, and in breach of the poor law a charity for the able-bodied was allowed. As a direct consequence Irelands population fell, over one million dieing due to the famine and emigration to England and America ensured that the population fell again by one and a half million. In conclusion by 1850 Ireland was not much further forward than it had been in the 1800, the government in Westminster had implemented a series of quick fix solutions in Ireland, which in the long run made things worse. I feel that actually Ireland was not a central issue throughout British politics in the nineteenth century, due to the implementation of the, solutions imposed to subdue the problem rather than solve it. However Ireland was a central issue, during certain periods of the nineteenth century, especially in the 1820's when Westminster were so split over the Irish question it became an open question. ...read more.

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