But if this demand—based on loyalty to the King and Constitution, and founded on the elementary right of British citizens to the unimpaired protection of Imperial Parliament—be refused, then the only alternative is the Ulster Provincial Government, which will be organised to come into operation on the day that a Home Rule Bill should receive the Royal Assent; and under that Provisional Government we shall continue to support our King, and to render the same services’ to the United Kingdom and to the Empire as have characterised the history of Ulster during the past three hundred years.
[Footnote 66: See Mr. Wyndham’s article, p. 249.]
THE SOUTHERN MINORITIES
BY RICHARD BAGWELL, M.A.
At the present moment no county or borough in the three southern provinces of Ireland returns a Unionist member. There are substantial minorities in many places, but very few in which there would be any chance of a successful contest. The University of Dublin sends two conspicuous Unionists to Parliament, who represent not only a constituency of graduates, but the vast majority of educated and thinking people. The bearing of the question on religious interests will be dealt with by others, but it may be said here that the Protestant community is Unionist. The exceptions are few, and are much more than counter-balanced by the Roman Catholic opponents of Home Rule, who for obvious reasons are less outspoken, but are quite as anxious to avert the threatened revolution.
The great bone of contention has always been the land, the cause of various wars and of ceaseless civil disputes. Parnell saw and said that purely political Nationalism was weak by itself, and he took up the land question to get leverage. For many years it has been evident that the only feasible solution was to convert occupiers into owners, and a very long step was made by the Purchase Act of 1903. Progress has now been arrested, for the Act of 1909 does not work. The vendors or expropriated owners, whichever is the more correct term, are expected to take a lower price and to be paid in depreciated paper. The minorities to be most immediately affected by legislation consist of landlords who are unable, though willing, to sell, and of tenants who are unable but very anxious to buy. The present deadlock is disastrous, for many tenants think they ought not to pay more than their neighbours, and demand reductions of rent without considering that the owner has received no part of his capital and dares not destroy the basis on which he hopes to be ultimately paid. It has been an essential part of the purchase policy that the instalment due by the occupier to recoup the State advance should be less than the rent. This has been made possible by the magic of British credit, and if that is withheld the confusion in Ireland will be worse than ever.