How did the government of one country change over time?
During the years of 1800-1921 there was a drastic change in the function of government here in Ireland. Ireland today is a democratic country made up of 26 counties although this was not always the case. It only became an independent republic on Easter Monday 1949.
This stated that all Irish MPs had to travel to Westminster , London, to take their seats in British government . Irish MPs were always outnumbered by the MPs from England. It was felt by many Irish people that Britain should allow the Irish to have its Parliament in Dublin. This Parliament could then make decisions that affected Ireland but still remained a part of the British Empire. This idea was called Home Rule.
Most Irish MPs that were elected to Parliament were members of the IPP(Irish parliamentary party). These people wanted to win Home Rule for Ireland and soon became known as the Home Rule Party. The leader at start of the 20th century was John Redmond.
Nationalists wanted Ireland to be an independent nation. Most Nationalists were catholic, supported Home Rule and voted for the Home Rule Party.
Unionists were mainly Protestants and opposed Home Rule. They voted for the UPP and their leader was Edward Carson. They feared that they would suffer discrimination from the Catholics if Home Rule was introduced. Their slogan was ‘Home Rule is for Rome Rule’ They strongly supported the union with Britain as it meant that they had a main market to sell their goods to.
The 2 main political parties in Britain were the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals led by Herbert Asquith supported Home Rule. The Conservatives led by Andrew Bonar Law opposed Home Rule. The Parliament in Westminster is divided into 2 houses, The House of Commons and The House of Lords. The House of Commons is elected by the people and the party with the most seats in the House of Commons.
However, if the government wants to change the law, it would have to get the House of Lords to agree with them. This is were the problem laid with the Home Rule Party as the House of Lords was made up of noblemen and Protestant Bishops, these people belonged to the Conservative Party and they were against Home Rule. Also, the House of Lords could stop any new law that they didn’t like, this called the power of veto. This fact was a great source of frustration to Nationalists but a source of comfort to Unionists.
King George V decided to change the veto. He told the Lords he would take away all their power by creating hundreds of new liberal Lords who would then have the majority. They had no choice but to accept the1911 Parliament act. The Act stated that the House of Lords could only veto a law twice. The Third Home Rule Bill was passed in the House of Commons in 11th April 1912(they were previously in 1886 and 1893) This meant that Ireland would have Home Rule by 1914.
While the Nationalists celebrated, the Unionists, who were very angry, organised a petition against Home Rule, they called it the Solomon League and Covenant. It was organised by Edward Carson and James Craig and it got over 400,000 signatures. It stated that the Unionist people would never ever accept Home Rule. In January 1913 they set up the Ulster Volunteer Force(UVF) to fight Home Rule. In April 1914 they smuggled rifles and ammunitions from Germany into Larne(Antrim). It became known as the Larne Gun Running.
A Nationalist Army was then set up called the Irish Volunteer Force(IVF) to support Irish Independence, led by Eoin MacNeill . In July 1914 the IVF then smuggled their own rifles and ammunition into Ireland and they landed in Howth, Dublin. This became known as the Howth Gun Running. The RIC(police-force) attempted to capture the weapons as they were on the side of the UVF.
In August 1914 war broke out in Europe between the Allies and the Central Powers. Britain then decided that it was not safe to give Home Rule to Ireland during the war so they suspended the bill until the war was over. Carson and Redmond both asked their followers in the UVF and IVF to help Britain in the war. Ten per cent of the IVF refused to fight for the British. They would not die to protect England.
Some people soon began to believe that Ireland should be completely independent from Britain. They were people that wanted an Irish Republic, they were called Republicans. They believed the only way to get a republic was to rebel violently.
Some Republicans were members of a secret organisation called the Irish Republican Brotherhood(IRB) They believed ‘England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity’. Some of the members included, Padraig Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt and Joseph Plunkett and many more. They planned a rebellion for Easter 1916. The IRB was a small group do they needed to find a group that would help them they tricked Eoin MacNeill into helping them by forging a castle document and they also persuaded the ICA led by James Connolly to aid them.
The 1916 Rising was a military disaster, Casement who was sent for ammunitions to Germany on the Aud, was captured, MacNeill found out that the Castle Document was a fake and then placed an ad about the Rising in the Sunday Independent. The GPO was the headquarters of the rebel force and it was there that the Proclamation of The Irish Republic was read. There was a rebel force of around 1,500 controlling The GPO, Four Courts, Bolands Mill and other buildings by Monday.
On Tuesday the British began to arrive. They were hemmed in and faced the wrath of a gunboat called the Helga which shelled the city. On April 29th Connolly, who was very badly injured, and Pearse surrendered to General Lowe. Eamonn de Valera was the last to surrender his post in Bolands Mill the next day. Around 64 rebels and 90 British were killed but around 300 civilians died. The British believed it was a Sinn Féin rising. 90 people were arrested and sentenced to death, including the leaders which made the public sympathise with the rebels.
Arthur Griffith founded this tiny political party in 1905. The British blamed the for the Rising as the IRB were a secret organisation and very few people knew of them. Support for Sinn Féin grew very popular after the Rising. Eamonn de Valera, the only surviving leader of the Rising soon replaced Griffith as the leader.
De Valera and Michael Collins(fought in the GPO) promised to give Ireland a republic if people voted for them in the next election. Sinn Féin won 76 seats, the Home Rule part only 6 seats and the Unionists 26. Sinn Féin immediately set up the Dáil, the parliament of an independent Irish Republic in the Mansion House, Dublin. The British then declared this illegal and Sinn Féin and its military wing, the Irish Republican Army(IRA). Most IRA members were member of the IRB or Irish Volunteers.
In January 1919, a group of IRA men in Tipperary led by Dan Breen attacked a RIC patrol in Soloheadbeg and stole their weapons. The war seeking independence had begun and would last until December 1921.
Many of the men who led the IRA during the war of Independence had fought in the 1916 Rising. The decision was made to fight using guerrilla/ambush tactics. The IRA was split into small groups called ‘Flying Columns’ of between 40 and 80 men. These would live rough in the countryside relaying on the support of the locals to feed and support them. De Valera was the leader of Sinn Féin during this war, he went to America to raise money for the war. Cathal Brugha was officially in charge as he was the Minister for Defence but the real leader was Michael Collins.
In the 1918 election Collins was elected as a candidate, but he refused to take his sear in Westminster so he became the Minister for Finance in the First Dáil of 1919 and he immediately went on the run to avoid being arrested. Collins organised his ‘Squad’ who ere 12 assassins to kill any British spies lurking around. The IRA’s main was to seek out and destroy the RIC therefore the British law in Ireland . By the end of 1920 it only existed in main cities and towns. The British retaliated by sending The Black and Tans, who were ex World War 1 soldiers to deal with the rebellious Irish. Michael Collins became the most wanted man in the entire British Empire with a £10,000 reward for capturing him
The violence of the war reached its peak on the 21st November 1920. Early that morning 12 British spies and 2 Auxiliaries were taken out by Collins’s Squad across Dublin. On the same day Tipperary and Dublin had a Gaelic Football Match in Croke Park, the Black and Tans went in and fired into the crowds, killing 14 civilians even a Tipperary player, Michael Hogan. Later on that same day 2 leading members of the IRA, Dick McKee and Peadar Clancy were killed in Dublin Castle.
The IRA were remarkably successful during their search for Independence. The IRA knew they could not possibly win the war by entirely beating the British. They only way the war could come to an end was by bargaining and negotiating an agreement with the British. The British King, King George V was very worried about the brutal behaviours of the Black and Tans and called for peace in June 1921. David Lloyd George, the Prime Minster also wanted to end the war as it was costly. On July 11th 1921 a truce was called in the fighting!
A delegation of Irish people including Michael Collins, Robert Barton and Arthur Griffith went to London in October 1921 to try and bring about a treaty. The British group included Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Austen Chamberlain, these were all clever politicians who did not intend to give the Irish a full Republic. The Irish demanded two key issues1. A totally independent Irish Republic2. An end to the partition of Ireland(Government of Ireland Act 1920)
The British did not wish to accept either of the Irish demands. They did though offer a partial independence for the 26 counties. They promised a Boundary Commission which would look at the partition later. The Irish were then lead to believe that Tyrone and Fermanagh would taken out of Northern Ireland. The Irish decided to sign the treaty but were under immense pressure as George had threatened ‘an immediate and terrible war’. They signed the treaty in the knowledge that it would mean nothing if the Dáil did not vote to accept its terms.
The treaty stated that,1) Ireland would be known as the Irish Free State2) They would have their own flag , army, currency.3) It would remain a member of the British Empire and the members of the Dáil(TDs) would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the King.4) The partitioned counties would remain partitioned until the Boundary Commission.5) There would be a Governor General in Ireland who would be the Kings representative and could overrule the Dáil.6) Britain would keep 3 Treaty Ports for the use of the British Navy at Lough Swilly , Cobh and Berhaven.
As a result from doing this project I have learned all about the change in the function of government in Ireland. I learned that it didn’t really have a proper government and that the Irish MPs had to sit in Westminster until people actually physically fought for Ireland to have its own government, I feel I have learned more as I was able to compare the way the government, especially the first Dáil in the way in which it was illegal to the Dáil in present day Ireland
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