Ireland Since Parnell eBook

D.D. Sheehan
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 273 pages of information about Ireland Since Parnell.

CHAPTER XI

THE MOVEMENT FOR DEVOLUTION AND ITS DEFEAT

The vital declaration of the objects of the Irish Reform Association was contained in the following passage:—­

“While firmly maintaining that the Parliamentary Union between Great Britain and Ireland is essential to the political stability of the Empire and to the prosperity of the two islands, we believe that such a Union is compatible with the devolution to Ireland of a larger measure of self-government than she now possesses.  We consider that this devolution, while avoiding matters of Imperial concern and subjects of common interest to the kingdom as a whole, would be beneficial to Ireland and would relieve the Imperial Parliament of a mass of business with which it cannot now deal satisfactorily.  In particular we consider the present system of financial administration to be wasteful and inappropriate to the needs of the country.”

And then the manifesto proceeded to enumerate various questions of national reform “for whose solution we earnestly invite the co-operation of all Irishmen who have the highest interests of their country at heart.”

The enemies of Home Rule had no misconceptions either as to the purpose, scope or object of the Reform Association.  They saw at once how absolutely it menaced their position—­how completely it embodied in substance the main principle of the constitutional movement since the days of Parnell—­namely, the control of purely Irish affairs by an Irish assembly subject to the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament.  From debates which followed in the House of Lords (17th February 1905) it became clear that the new movement had no sinister origin—­that it was honestly conceived and honestly intended for Ireland’s national advantage.  But the Irish, whether of North or South, are a people to whom suspiciousness in politics is a sort of second nature.  It is the inheritance of centuries of betrayals, treacheries and duplicities—­broken treaties, crude diplomacies and shattered faiths.  And thus we had a Unionist Attorney-General (now Lord Atkinson) asking “whether the Devolution scheme is not the price secretly arranged to be paid for Nationalist acquiescence in the settlement of the Land Question on gracious terms”; and The Times declaring (1st September 1904):  “What the Dunraven Devolution policy amounts to is nothing more nor less than the revival in a slightly weakened and thinly disguised form of Mr Gladstone’s fatal enterprise of 1886”; whilst on the other hand those Irish Nationalists who followed Mr Dillon’s lead attacked the new movement with a ferocity that was as stupid as it was criminal.  For at least it did not require any unusual degree of political intelligence to postulate that if The Times, Sir Edward Carson, The Northern Whig and other Unionist and Orange bravoes and journals were denouncing the Devolution proposals

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Ireland Since Parnell from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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