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The Change Of The Irish Question Between 1800 And 1922

2845 words - 11 pages

The Change of the Irish Question between 1800 and 1922

The Irish Question changed dramatically between the years 1800 and
1922. The Anglican Ascendancy meant that Ireland was governed
indirectly from England. The Ascendancy angered the Catholics, limited
their rights and made them pay taxes to the Protestant church. This
led to dissatisfaction amongst Catholics culminating in the 1798
Rebellion. This caused the British Government to become more involved
with Ireland, as they began to fear that Revolution could occur. It
revealed to them the weaknesses of the existing, divided system in
Ireland and the need for the Question to be addressed.

The Act of Union represented the first phase of the Irish Question. It
was a response to the 1798 Rebellion and fears of Ireland possibly
being used as a base for France to bring about revolution. It aimed to
unite Ireland and England and to dissolve the Irish Parliament into
the English Parliament. The British Government now had to take
responsibility for Ireland, but it was still treated as a separate
country and Duke of Wellington later described it as "the enemy's
country". The divides between the English and the Irish and the
Catholics and the Protestants that had existed before were
strengthened to an even greater degree after the Act of Union. This
was because Irish Protestants in the North gained both economically
and religiously from the Act as they still continued to control
Ireland via the Protestant Ascendancy; therefore they became
pro-union, and favoured the Act of Union. Whereas many Catholics in
Ireland felt betrayed, because the Act of Union was not followed by
Emancipation like they had hoped and the Ascendancy had been made
stronger and still controlled Irish Politics. Therefore the Act of
Union as a whole caused more separation and dissociation and instead
of solving the Irish Question it created more problems. Emancipation
would be the focus of the Irish Question from this point onwards.

Daniel O'Connell became the key individual at this point as he formed
the Catholic Association in 1823 and he believed that Emancipation was
a step towards Home Rule. He campaigned by using peaceful methods and
mass organization. This was therefore a new way of addressing the
Irish Question and gaining middle class support, which wouldn't want
to support violent rebellion that might harm their property. O'Connell
convinced the population that there was a link between political
equality and economic prosperity, by saying that if they got the vote
they would also gain economic benefits and the Ascendancy would end as
Catholics gained positions of power. The 'Catholic Rent' of one penny
a month was introduced, which was paid by the Catholics to fund the
Catholic Association. This separated the Catholics and Protestants
further as it...

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