The Politics of Disaffection, 1795–9
To many observers in the winter of 1792–3 Ireland appeared to be on the brink of rebellion. Little distinction was made, in the ascendancy mind, between the politics of catholic relief or parliamentary reform on the one hand, and Defenderism, disloyalty or outright subversion on the other. However exaggerated that view may have been in 1793 — and it is far from clear that the hard men of the ascendancy, like Fitzgibbon, had got it entirely wrong — by 1795 the iron rod of coercion had hammered the equation into reality. Moreover, with hindsight it is hard to disagree with the ubiquitous contemporary perception that after the recall of Fitzwilliam the last hope of a peaceful, ‘political’, resolution of the Irish crisis had passed. Revolution or complete submission, as the radicals (and many catholic activists) now saw it, were the only alternatives; repression, as the ascendancy saw it, the only reply.
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- 111.Barrington, The rise and fall of the Irish nation (Dublin, 1833), 358.Google Scholar