Advertisement

Introduction

The Oldest Question: Ireland in British Politics and History
  • D. G. Boyce
Chapter
Part of the British History in Perspective book series (BHP)

Abstract

The time when the Irish Question first entered British politics can be dated precisely. On 13 February 1844 the House of Commons began a nine-day debate on Ireland on a motion by Lord John Russell, who made a forceful speech on the theme that ‘Ireland is occupied not governed’. The motion was defeated; but the importance of the debate lay in the recognition of Ireland as a special area, with a particular character, which required special treatment. These problems were summed up by Disraeli as ‘a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, and an alien church, and, in addition, the weakest executive in the world’. The exactness of his definition may be open to question; but the point was, as the diarist Charles Greville noted, the ‘very remarkable change in the tone and temper in which the Irish discussion was carried on’. The debate, he thought, revealed that the majority of MPs was ‘impressed with the necessity of laying the foundation of a real and permanent union between the two countries’. But the difficulty, as Greville remarked, lay in the ‘difference of opinion … as to … what the people of England could be brought to consent, and what the people of Ireland would be content to receive’.1

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    D. A. Kerr, Peel, Priests and Politics (Oxford, 1982), pp. 115–16.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    J. L. Hammond, Gladstone and the Irish Nation (London, 1964 ed.), p. 32.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kerr, op. cit., p. 117.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    P. M. H. Bell, Disestablishment in Ireland and Wales (London, 1969), pp. 40–1.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    J. C. Beckett, The Making of Modern Ireland (London, 1966 ed.), p. 353.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Spectator, ‘The Unionists and Lord Rosebery’, 17 March 1894, quoted in Frank O’Gorman, British Conservatism: Conservative Thought from Burke to Thatcher (London, 1986), p. 175.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The Earl of Selborne to Joseph Chamberlain, 20 December 1909, MS. Selborne 9/177.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See Chamberlain’s speeches in 1906, J. Amery, The Life of Joseph Chamberlain, Vol. 6 (London, 1969), pp. 594–5, 901–7.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    K. Robbins, Core and Periphery in Modern British History (London, 1985), p. 290.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Economist, ‘A Future for Ulster’, 23 August 1969.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    O. MacDonagh, States of Mind (London, 1983), p. 56.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    D. G. Boyce, Nationalism in Ireland (London, 1982), pp. 214–17.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    R. F. Foster, ‘Together and Apart: Anglo Agreements, 1886– 1986’, History Today, Vol. 36 (May, 1986), pp. 6–9.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    D. C. Sommervell, The British Empire (London, 1930), p. 217.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    For a typical example of this see T. O. Lloyd, Empire to Welfare State (Oxford, 1970).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    As A. T. Q. Stewart puts it ‘Paradoxically they [the penal laws] have been more resented by Catholics since their repeal than they seem to have been by Catholics who lived under them’, The Narrow Ground (London, 1977), p. 103.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    The phrase is Conor Cruise O’Brien’s; see The Shaping of Modern Ireland (London, 1960), p. 13.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. G. Boyce 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. G. Boyce

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations