The rise of organised unionism in Northern Ireland
In April 1912 Asquith introduced the third home rule bill. The bill proposed that Ireland be given its own parliament in Dublin which would control the countries the countries own internal affairs. However the Westminster parliament would still be responsible for a number of key areas, including but not limited to: defence, war and foreign policy, relations with the crown, customs and excise, and land purchase. The bill all things considered was very similar to the second home rule bill (1893) and proposed that the 42 Irish MPs continue to sit in the Westminster parliament. Passed in the House of Commons, the bill was predictably rejected by the House of Lords. However, as the lords could now only delay a bill by two years. Therefore the home rule bill was to be introduced in 1914. While the liberal alliance seemed on the verge of delivering home rule Redmond and Asquith now had to contend with the strength and determination of opposition to home rule from the ulster unionists and their allies the conservative party. Unionist wished to maintain the union between Great Britain and Ireland. Although a minority lived in the south of Ireland the majority lived in the north eastern region of Ireland. Although the origins of unionism may be traced back to the plantations of the seventeenth century, but in fact we must look to 1880 to see the rise of unionism as a major political force. The development of organised unionism was a direct response to the threat posed by the success of the home rule movement under the leadership of Parnell. In May 1886 a group of wealthy southern Irish unionists formed a new organisation named the ‘Irish loyal and patriotic union’. This organisation, although seeking mainly to influence opinions in Great Britain, put up candidate in general election. Its efforts proved futile and the only candidates returned were two unopposed members representing trinity, college Dublin. Ulster...
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