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Ireland One Hundred Years Ago



Ireland 100 Years Ago          Gerry O'Shea


In January, 1918, the Great War, the war that it was said would end all wars, was entering its fifth year with the German propagandists claiming a major planned offensive that would lead to imminent victory.


About 350,000 Irishmen had enlisted, prompted by what Yeats called "public men and cheering crowds." John Redmond, the undisputed leader of Irish nationalism, who successfully negotiated a limited Home Rule Bill in 1914, strongly urged Irishmen to  enlist in the war effort by joining the English army.


These recruits surely did not anticipate the appalling trench battles along the Western Front from Ypres in the north to  the Moselle River close to the Swiss border. Tens of thousands of Irishmen died in support of a war that the leaders in Westminster - ironically from an Irish perspective - claimed was being fought to secure the freedom of small nations.


The Spanish flu, known to many as La Grippe, became an international epidemic and resulted in close to 30 million deaths, about twice the number of civilians and combatants that died in the European war from 1914 to 1918. La Grippe caused devastation in Ireland sending about 23 thousand to an early grave.


John Redmond died in March in his early sixties, and in April, despite vehement protests from the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Prime Minister Lloyd George, responding to pressure from his generals, forced through the Military Conscription Bill, which mandated military service for all young Irishmen.


Nationalist Ireland responded with one voice that conscription would be opposed by all means available. Sinn Fein and the IPP put aside their differences and co-operated in forcefully  condemning  any compulsion on an  Irishman to wear the English uniform.


 The Catholic Church, far more powerful and better organized than either political party, called on its members to defeat "an unjust and oppressive law." The involvement of the clergy was evident in every parish, and their political tour de force against the Westminster edict made compulsory conscription by the authorities politically impossible, and largely because of their massive resistance Lloyd George abandoned the idea.


Nationalist politicians learned from this major victory over the London government just how powerful the Catholic pulpit was.  The church relished their new political power and, in time, validated the Unionist fears that Home Rule would be Rome Rule.


Another act of parliament, the Representation of the People Act, had a momentous impact on electoral politics in Ireland. This Bill, passed on February 6th, extended the franchise to men over 21 and to women over 30. The number of eligible voters in Ireland rose from 698,000 to 1.9 million. This change made a big difference in the crucial 1918 Westminster elections in Ireland, which were held before Christmas in that year.


There were four hotly-contested by-elections in southern Ireland in 1917. The IPP argued that Home Rule was still the answer to what one historian called " the damnable question" of how Ireland should be governed. Sinn Fein presented a much more radical proposal for complete independence from England and won all four by-elections.


The general election in December, following victory for the Allies in Europe, was the last to be conducted on an All-Ireland basis. It resulted in Sinn Fein winning 73 seats out of 105. The IPP won only in six constituencies and lost its credibility as spokesmen for the nationalist cause.


Unionist intransigence combined with British malfeasance and the legacy of idealism from the 1916 Rising radicalized the Irish electorate. The half-measure of Home Rule,  loudly cheered by nationalists a few years before, was no longer sufficient.


Forty-seven of the new Sinn Fein MP's were in jail on election day. The party, led by Eamon De Valera, refused to take their seats in Westminster and instead set up its own Dail (parliament) in Dublin.


 Constance Markievicz, who played a prominent role in the 1916 Rising, was the first woman elected to Westminster. De Valera appointed her as Minister for Labor in the First Dail; we had to wait 60 years for the next female minister, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, to be appointed as a full cabinet member in Dublin.


The Irish Convention was setup by Lloyd George in July, 1917 with a mandate to hammer out some agreement between Unionists and Nationalists. The IPP and Catholic bishops attended the discussions in Trinity College, which continued until March of 1918, but failed to find a compromise between the two communities. Sinn Fein chose not to participate in these discussions because its goal of a 32-county republic was not on the agenda.


Some historians believe that this decision was a serious strategic mistake by De Valera and his advisors. They contend that Sinn Fein nationalists needed to argue their case for a republic and hear from Unionists about what kind of political arrangements they envisaged for the whole island.


Tragically, especially for Northern nationalists, that discussion on how two strong traditions could share political power on the island didn't happen until the abortive effort  in Sunningdale in the early 1970's and the successful Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago - and 80 years since the negotiations in Trinity College.


The terms Sinn Fein and the IRA were used interchangeably and, after their major electoral victory in December, it was only a matter of time until they asserted in arms the claim to a republic with no ties to Britain.


 On January 19th, 2019, a month after the election results were confirmed, two policemen were shot dead in Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary, ushering in the Irish War of Independence.


 


Gerry O'Shea blogs in wemustbetalking.com


 


Ireland 100 Years Ago          Gerry O'Shea


In January, 1918, the Great War, the war that it was said would end all wars, was entering its fifth year with the German propagandists claiming a major planned offensive that would lead to imminent victory.


About 350,000 Irishmen had enlisted, prompted by what Yeats called "public men and cheering crowds." John Redmond, the undisputed leader of Irish nationalism, who successfully negotiated a limited Home Rule Bill in 1914, strongly urged Irishmen to  enlist in the war effort by joining the English army.


These recruits surely did not anticipate the appalling trench battles along the Western Front from Ypres in the north to  the Moselle River close to the Swiss border. Tens of thousands of Irishmen died in support of a war that the leaders in Westminster - ironically from an Irish perspective - claimed was being fought to secure the freedom of small nations.


The Spanish flu, known to many as La Grippe, became an international epidemic and resulted in close to 30 million deaths, about twice the number of civilians and combatants that died in the European war from 1914 to 1918. La Grippe caused devastation in Ireland sending about 23 thousand to an early grave.


John Redmond died in March in his early sixties, and in April, despite vehement protests from the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Prime Minister Lloyd George, responding to pressure from his generals, forced through the Military Conscription Bill, which mandated military service for all young Irishmen.


Nationalist Ireland responded with one voice that conscription would be opposed by all means available. Sinn Fein and the IPP put aside their differences and co-operated in forcefully  condemning  any compulsion on an  Irishman to wear the English uniform.


 The Catholic Church, far more powerful and better organized than either political party, called on its members to defeat "an unjust and oppressive law." The involvement of the clergy was evident in every parish, and their political tour de force against the Westminster edict made compulsory conscription by the authorities politically impossible, and largely because of their massive resistance Lloyd George abandoned the idea.


Nationalist politicians learned from this major victory over the London government just how powerful the Catholic pulpit was.  The church relished their new political power and, in time, validated the Unionist fears that Home Rule would be Rome Rule.


Another act of parliament, the Representation of the People Act, had a momentous impact on electoral politics in Ireland. This Bill, passed on February 6th, extended the franchise to men over 21 and to women over 30. The number of eligible voters in Ireland rose from 698,000 to 1.9 million. This change made a big difference in the crucial 1918 Westminster elections in Ireland, which were held before Christmas in that year.


There were four hotly-contested by-elections in southern Ireland in 1917. The IPP argued that Home Rule was still the answer to what one historian called " the damnable question" of how Ireland should be governed. Sinn Fein presented a much more radical proposal for complete independence from England and won all four by-elections.


The general election in December, following victory for the Allies in Europe, was the last to be conducted on an All-Ireland basis. It resulted in Sinn Fein winning 73 seats out of 105. The IPP won only in six constituencies and lost its credibility as spokesmen for the nationalist cause.


Unionist intransigence combined with British malfeasance and the legacy of idealism from the 1916 Rising radicalized the Irish electorate. The half-measure of Home Rule,  loudly cheered by nationalists a few years before, was no longer sufficient.


Forty-seven of the new Sinn Fein MP's were in jail on election day. The party, led by Eamon De Valera, refused to take their seats in Westminster and instead set up its own Dail (parliament) in Dublin.


 Constance Markievicz, who played a prominent role in the 1916 Rising, was the first woman elected to Westminster. De Valera appointed her as Minister for Labor in the First Dail; we had to wait 60 years for the next female minister, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, to be appointed as a full cabinet member in Dublin.


The Irish Convention was setup by Lloyd George in July, 1917 with a mandate to hammer out some agreement between Unionists and Nationalists. The IPP and Catholic bishops attended the discussions in Trinity College, which continued until March of 1918, but failed to find a compromise between the two communities. Sinn Fein chose not to participate in these discussions because its goal of a 32-county republic was not on the agenda.


Some historians believe that this decision was a serious strategic mistake by De Valera and his advisors. They contend that Sinn Fein nationalists needed to argue their case for a republic and hear from Unionists about what kind of political arrangements they envisaged for the whole island.


Tragically, especially for Northern nationalists, that discussion on how two strong traditions could share political power on the island didn't happen until the abortive effort  in Sunningdale in the early 1970's and the successful Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago - and 80 years since the negotiations in Trinity College.


The terms Sinn Fein and the IRA were used interchangeably and, after their major electoral victory in December, it was only a matter of time until they asserted in arms the claim to a republic with no ties to Britain.


 On January 19th, 2019, a month after the election results were confirmed, two policemen were shot dead in Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary, ushering in the Irish War of Independence.


 


Gerry O'Shea blogs in wemustbetalking.com


 


Ireland 100 Years Ago          Gerry O'Shea


In January, 1918, the Great War, the war that it was said would end all wars, was entering its fifth year with the German propagandists claiming a major planned offensive that would lead to imminent victory.


About 350,000 Irishmen had enlisted, prompted by what Yeats called "public men and cheering crowds." John Redmond, the undisputed leader of Irish nationalism, who successfully negotiated a limited Home Rule Bill in 1914, strongly urged Irishmen to  enlist in the war effort by joining the English army.


These recruits surely did not anticipate the appalling trench battles along the Western Front from Ypres in the north to  the Moselle River close to the Swiss border. Tens of thousands of Irishmen died in support of a war that the leaders in Westminster - ironically from an Irish perspective - claimed was being fought to secure the freedom of small nations.


The Spanish flu, known to many as La Grippe, became an international epidemic and resulted in close to 30 million deaths, about twice the number of civilians and combatants that died in the European war from 1914 to 1918. La Grippe caused devastation in Ireland sending about 23 thousand to an early grave.


John Redmond died in March in his early sixties, and in April, despite vehement protests from the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), Prime Minister Lloyd George, responding to pressure from his generals, forced through the Military Conscription Bill, which mandated military service for all young Irishmen.


Nationalist Ireland responded with one voice that conscription would be opposed by all means available. Sinn Fein and the IPP put aside their differences and co-operated in forcefully  condemning  any compulsion on an  Irishman to wear the English uniform.


 The Catholic Church, far more powerful and better organized than either political party, called on its members to defeat "an unjust and oppressive law." The involvement of the clergy was evident in every parish, and their political tour de force against the Westminster edict made compulsory conscription by the authorities politically impossible, and largely because of their massive resistance Lloyd George abandoned the idea.


Nationalist politicians learned from this major victory over the London government just how powerful the Catholic pulpit was.  The church relished their new political power and, in time, validated the Unionist fears that Home Rule would be Rome Rule.


Another act of parliament, the Representation of the People Act, had a momentous impact on electoral politics in Ireland. This Bill, passed on February 6th, extended the franchise to men over 21 and to women over 30. The number of eligible voters in Ireland rose from 698,000 to 1.9 million. This change made a big difference in the crucial 1918 Westminster elections in Ireland, which were held before Christmas in that year.


There were four hotly-contested by-elections in southern Ireland in 1917. The IPP argued that Home Rule was still the answer to what one historian called " the damnable question" of how Ireland should be governed. Sinn Fein presented a much more radical proposal for complete independence from England and won all four by-elections.


The general election in December, following victory for the Allies in Europe, was the last to be conducted on an All-Ireland basis. It resulted in Sinn Fein winning 73 seats out of 105. The IPP won only in six constituencies and lost its credibility as spokesmen for the nationalist cause.


Unionist intransigence combined with British malfeasance and the legacy of idealism from the 1916 Rising radicalized the Irish electorate. The half-measure of Home Rule,  loudly cheered by nationalists a few years before, was no longer sufficient.


Forty-seven of the new Sinn Fein MP's were in jail on election day. The party, led by Eamon De Valera, refused to take their seats in Westminster and instead set up its own Dail (parliament) in Dublin.


 Constance Markievicz, who played a prominent role in the 1916 Rising, was the first woman elected to Westminster. De Valera appointed her as Minister for Labor in the First Dail; we had to wait 60 years for the next female minister, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, to be appointed as a full cabinet member in Dublin.


The Irish Convention was setup by Lloyd George in July, 1917 with a mandate to hammer out some agreement between Unionists and Nationalists. The IPP and Catholic bishops attended the discussions in Trinity College, which continued until March of 1918, but failed to find a compromise between the two communities. Sinn Fein chose not to participate in these discussions because its goal of a 32-county republic was not on the agenda.


Some historians believe that this decision was a serious strategic mistake by De Valera and his advisors. They contend that Sinn Fein nationalists needed to argue their case for a republic and hear from Unionists about what kind of political arrangements they envisaged for the whole island.


Tragically, especially for Northern nationalists, that discussion on how two strong traditions could share political power on the island didn't happen until the abortive effort  in Sunningdale in the early 1970's and the successful Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago - and 80 years since the negotiations in Trinity College.


The terms Sinn Fein and the IRA were used interchangeably and, after their major electoral victory in December, it was only a matter of time until they asserted in arms the claim to a republic with no ties to Britain.


 On January 19th, 2019, a month after the election results were confirmed, two policemen were shot dead in Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary, ushering in the Irish War of Independence.


 


Gerry O'Shea blogs in wemustbetalking.com


 

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