Handbook of Home Rule eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 281 pages of information about Handbook of Home Rule.

The object of the Irish Government Bill is to confer on the Irish people the largest measure of self-government consistent with the absolute supremacy of the Crown and Imperial Parliament and the entire unity of the Empire.  To carry into effect this object it was essential to create a separate though subordinate legislature; thus occasion was given to opponents to apply the name of Separatists to the supporters of the Bill—­a term true in so far only as it denoted the intention to create a separate legislature, but false and calumnious when used in the sense in which it was intended to be understood—­of imputing to the promoters of the Bill the intention to disunite or in any way to disintegrate the Empire.  Indeed, the very object of the measure was, by relaxing a little the legal bonds of union, to draw closer the actual ties between England and Ireland, in fact, to do as we have done in our Colonies, by decentralizing the subordinate functions of government to strengthen the central supremacy of natural affection and Imperial unity.  The example of the effects of giving complete self-government to our Colonies would seem not unfavourable to trying the same experiment in Ireland.  Some forty years ago, Canada, New Zealand, and the various colonies of Australia were discontented and uneasy at the control exercised by the Government of England over their local affairs.  What did England do?  She gave to each of those communities the fullest power of local government consistent with the unity of the Empire.  The result was that the real union was established in the same degree as the apparent tie of control over local affairs was loosened.  Are there any reasons to suppose that the condition of Ireland is such as to render the example of the Colonies applicable?  Let us look a little at the past history of that country.  Up to 1760 Ireland was governed practically as a conquered country.  The result was that in 1782, in order to save Imperial unity, we altogether relaxed the local tie and made Ireland legislatively independent.  The Empire was thus saved, but difficulties naturally arose between two independent legislatures.  The true remedy would have been to have imposed on Grattan’s Parliament the conditions imposed by the Irish Government Bill on the statutory Parliament created by that Bill; the course actually taken was that, instead of leaving the Irish with their local government, and arranging for the due supremacy of England, the Irish Legislature was destroyed under the guise of Union, and Irish representatives were transferred to an assembly in which they had little weight, and in which they found no sympathy.  The result was that from the date of the Union to the present day Ireland has been constantly working for the reinstatement of its National Legislature, and has been governed by a continuous system of extraordinary legislature called coercion; the fact being that between 1800, the date of the Act of Union, and 1832, the date of the great Reform Act, there were only eleven

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Handbook of Home Rule from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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