Sunday, 13 November 2011

Arthur Griffith

Arthur Griffith - The United Irishman Newspaper

This Local Government Act set up county councils and removed the need for the old jury system that had been the domain of the landlords and their supporters. It was a significant move towards democracy and a move that brought local government much closer to the people.  In the same year 1898, there were widespread commemorations of the 1798 rebellion which revived interest in forgotten people from the past like Wolfe Tone.  

Arthur Griffith returned from South Africa and set up a newspaper called the “United Irishman” in which he praised the ideals of the rebels in the past.  He believed that the only way they could get Ireland back was by setting up Irish institutions and structures so that they could have their own parliament in Dublin.  He went on to develop this theory by creating a movement called Sinn Fein, which translates into “Ourselves Alone”.  
This party is still in existence today in both North and South Ireland.

In the early 20th Century, the northern part of Ireland became more prosperous and grew ever more dependant on Britain.  The rest of Ireland was in disarray and the Conservatives were back in power in England.  That combined with Parnell having split his own party, the prospect of Home Rule appeared bleak. 

John Redmond

However in and around 1900 the Irish Party had managed to regroup under the leadership of John Redmond and in 1906 they finally managed to have some influence when the Conservatives lost the general election.  

As this pressure for Home Rule continued, Irish Protestants who supported the union, felt threatened to an extent where they formed a set of Unionist clubs across Ireland.  Colonel James McCalmont the Member of Parliament for East Antrim chaired one such meeting in the Ulster Hall in Belfast in 1905 and addressed a council of just over 200 members.  

The message was to secure Ireland’s place within union with Britain.

When the Liberal government gained power after the election, they curbed the powers of the House of Lords, but in so doing, also lost their overall majority in the process.  This made the Liberals have a much greater dependency on the Irish Party, and as the House of Lords, mainly comprising of Conservatives, could no longer prevent bills passing through parliament, the Irish Party pushed hard for Home Rule.  The Home Rule Bill was passed in 1912 and appeared at first to be a victory for Redmond.

You should now read about Isaac Butt in Ireland.