Ireland Essay, Research Paper
IRELAND 1909-1914 Ireland has been in conflict for over seven centuries, in this essay I will attempt to describe the events which occurred in Ireland and what is now Northern Ireland between 1909 and 1914. Tension between the Irish people had always been existent but with the advent of the Home Rule bill the people had an excuse to fight. The reasons for tension throughout the ages in Ireland can be pinpointed to the fact that there are two opposing religions that are the main two religions in Ireland, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Added to this was the fact that the Protestants who were a minority in most of Ireland, excepting Northern Ireland (particularly Ulster), were opposed to the idea of home rule and you have a bubbling cauldron of anarchy and chaos eager to break free. The reasons for the Protestants opposing Home Rule is quite simple, if Home Rule came into place then the Protestants thought that there would be a civil war and they would be crushed by the Roman Catholics who outnumbered them nine to one outside of Ulster. Therefore the Protestants were keen to keep their allegiances with Great Britain. These people were known as the Ulster Unionists, their counterparts in Southern Ireland who were all for independence were dubbed the Irish Republican Brotherhood and were led by Tom Clarke. As the time of the passing of the Home Rule bill came closer the tension became more heated in Ireland. The opposition to the bill was focused mainly in Ulster. Two members of parliament, James Craig and Edward Carson were encouraged by the words of Conservative party leader, Andrew Bonar Law, an Ulster Protestant, so set about creating a Solemn League and Covenant , the document stated that those who signed would use all means which may be found necessary to oppose Home Rule. Some 450,000 people signed, less than 50% of the total Ulster Protestants, but still impressive. The public display of the covenant was soon backed up by the formation of an army called the Ulster Volunteers who numbered approximately 100,000 and had their own cavalry and guns etc. If Home Rule came into effect they were ready to take over the railways, post office, harbour networks etc. In reply to the creation of this Ulster based force the Irish Nationalists created their own army known as the Irish Volunteers who numbered in excess of 160,00 with about 40,000 of these hailing from Ulster. In early March 1914 it was made known that the Home Rule Bill was almost about to put in place. It had also become increasingly evident that when this occurred the Ulster Volunteers would use force to stop the law taking effect in Ulster. The British Government ordered its troops to protect arms depots in Northern Ireland form being attacked by Ulster Volunteers. However the commanding officer in Ireland General Paget said his soldiers would not fight the Ulster Unionists, with many agreeing with their fight, or even worse being form Ulster themselves. The government told Paget to carry on but the next day 59 officers stated that they would rather be dismissed from the army than fight the Unionists. So the British government basically withdrew from the whole crisis, being present but unwilling to take any action against the Ulstermen. The battle was postponed when it became clear that Britain was involved in a World War against Germany.