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Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 329 pages of information about Ulster's Stand For Union.

FOOTNOTES: 

[48] See ante, p. 53.

[49] But he could be moved to stern indignation by the treachery of former friends, as he showed in December 1921.

CHAPTER XIV

LORD LOREBURN’S LETTER

Whatever might be the state of public opinion in England, it was realised that the Government, if they chose, were in a position to disregard it; and in Ulster the tension was becoming almost unbearable.  The leaders were apprehensive lest outbreaks of violence should occur, which they knew would gravely prejudice the movement; and there is no doubt that it was only the discipline which the rank and file had now gained, and the extraordinary restraining influence which Carson exercised, that prevented serious rioting in many places.  Incidents like the attack by Nationalist roughs in Belfast on a carriage conveying crippled children to a holiday outing on the 31st of May because it was decorated with Union Jacks might at any moment lead to trouble.  There was some disorder in Belfast in the early hours of the 12th of July; and an outbreak occurred in August in Derry, always a storm centre, when a procession was attacked, and a Protestant was shot while watching it from his own upper window.  The incident started rioting, which continued for several days, and a battalion of troops had to be called in to restore order.

Meantime, throughout the summer, while the Government were complacently carrying their Bill through Parliament for the second time, the Press was packed with suggestions for averting the crisis which everybody except the Cabinet recognised as impending.

It began to be whispered in the clubs and lobbies that the King might exercise the prerogative of veto, and even men like Lord St. Aldwyn and the veteran Earl of Halsbury, both of them ex-Cabinet Ministers, encouraged the idea; but there was no widespread acceptance of the notion that even in so exceptional a case His Majesty would reject the advice of his responsible Ministers.  But in a letter to The Times on the 4th of September, Mr. George Cave, K.C., M.P. (afterwards Home Secretary, and ultimately Lord of Appeal), suggested that the King might “exercise his undoubted right” to dissolve Parliament before the beginning of the next session, in order to inform himself as to whether the policy of his Ministers was endorsed by the people.

But a much greater sensation was created a few days later by a letter which appeared in The Times on the 11th of the same month over the signature of Lord Loreburn.  Lord Loreburn had been Lord Chancellor at the time the Home Rule Bill was first introduced, but had retired from the Government in June 1912, being replaced on the Woolsack by Lord Haldane.  When the first draft of the Home Rule Bill was under discussion in the Cabinet in preparation for its introduction

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