The Churches and Politics, 1900–1922



The Protestant churches in Ireland were unionist: they maintained that the century-old Act of Union between Britain and Ireland must remain on the statute book. The main churches had, as institutions, opposed Gladstone’s first and second home rule bills in 1886 and 1893. The overwhelming majority of Protestant clergy and laity held to the belief that home rule would be ‘disastrous’. It was possible for them to summon all sorts of reasons for this: there were constitutional, imperial, strategic, economic and social as well as religious objections to the plan to set up a home rule parliament in Dublin. As the new century dawned, however, the home rule issue was somewhat in abeyance. Other matters claimed the attention of the churches: education was a high priority. The Conservative government’s policy - dubbed ‘killing home rule with kindness’ - had since the mid-1890s meant a concentration by Dublin Castle on economic and social issues, including education.


Trinity College Liberal Government Catholic Priest Protestant Church National Anthem 
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© Alan J. Megahey 2000

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