Ulster's Stand For Union eBook

Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 391 pages of information about Ulster's Stand For Union.
in the House of Commons, two of the younger Ministers, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Winston Churchill, proposed that an attempt should be made to avert the stern opposition to be expected from Ulster, by treating the northern Province, or a portion of it, separately from the rest of Ireland.  This proposal was not acceptable to the Cabinet as a whole, and its authors were roundly rated by Lord Loreburn for so unprincipled a lapse from orthodox Gladstonian doctrine.  What, therefore, must have been the astonishment of the heretics when they found their mentor, less than two years later, publicly reproving the Government which he had left for having got into such a sad mess over the Ulster difficulty!  They might be forgiven some indignation at finding themselves reproved by Lord Loreburn for faulty statesmanship of which Lord Loreburn was the principal author.

Those, however, who had not the same ground for exasperation as Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Churchill thought Lord Loreburn’s letter very sound sense.  He pointed out that if the Bill were to become law in 1914, as it stood in September 1913, there would be, if not civil war, at any rate very serious rioting in the North of Ireland, and when the riots had been quelled by the Government the spirit that prompted them would remain.  Everybody concerned would suffer from fighting it out to a finish.  The Ex-Chancellor felt bound to assume that “up to the last, Ministers, who assuredly have not taken leave of their senses, would be willing to consider proposals for accommodation,” and he therefore suggested that a Conference should be held behind closed doors with a view to a settlement by consent.  If Lord Loreburn had perceived at the time the draft Bill was before the Cabinet that it was not the Ministers who proposed separate treatment for Ulster who had “taken leave of their senses,” but those, including himself, who had resisted that proposal, his wisdom would have been more timely; but it was better late than never, and his unexpected intervention had a decided influence on opinion in the country.

The comment of The Times was very much to the point: 

“On the eve of a great political crisis, it may be of national disaster, a distinguished Liberal statesman makes public confession of his belief that, as a permanent solution, the Irish policy of the Government is indefensible.”

This letter of the ex-Lord Chancellor gave rise to prolonged discussion in the Press and on the platform.  At Durham, on the 13th of September, Carson declared that he would welcome a Conference if the question was how to provide a genuine expansion of self-government, but that, if Ulster was to be not only expelled from the Union but placed under a Parliament in Dublin, then “they were going to make Home Rule impossible by steady and persistent opposition.”  The Government seemed unable to agree whether a conciliatory or a defiant attitude was their wiser policy, though

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Ulster's Stand For Union from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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