Why Was The "Irish Question" So Troublesome For The British Governments In The Period 1868 1921?

1718 words - 7 pages

Great Britain and Ireland had merged under the Act of Union 1801. While the British Empire was changing and liberalizing its system of imperial rule granting greater independence to Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa , Ireland was forced to remain a part of the Union and used as a source of cheaper food supplies and labor, which could not be acceptable for the Irish. In one of his letters, then a future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli referred to maintaining the boiling Ireland as the Irish Question , and the expression grounded in the language of British politicians of the 19th and 20th centuries, when the struggle for a better life was the key of the Irish politics during the same period. Opposition to the Union in Ireland was strong and have resulted in a number of political and military issues such as The Home Rule movement and Irish Uprising in 1916, the intention of those was to require a separation of Ireland. In dealing with parts of the Empire the British Parliament's main goal was to keep its borders untouched at all costs, whereas on the other side of the Irish Sea people sought for freedom and self-determination. The struggle between the two opinions is what made the Irish Question so troublesome for the British Governments during the period 1868-1921.
When studying the Irish Question, it is crucial to remember that the relationship between Great Britain (particularly England) and Ireland had always consisted of conflicts. The apotheosis of the rivalry was reached when English and Scottish Protestants started to colonize the northern part of Ireland , so the British could get experience of maintaining new lands before proceeding to the New World. They treated the native Irish population as a lower class, which resulted in two ethno-religious conflicts known as the Irish Confederate Wars and the Williamite War, both of which were won by the Protestants. Later, in the 18th century, the Catholic Irish were banned from renting land. This created polarization between the communities, as the Protestants were growing more receptive to ideas of democratic reforms.
Failed Irish Rebellion of 1798, as a result of the establishment of the nationalist-based Society of the United Irishmen, worsened the violence between Catholics and Protestants. Eventually, in 1801, Ireland was incorporated into the United Kingdom with the abolishment of the Irish Parliament. Furthermore, a closer tie between Presbyterians and Anglicans followed, which meant the former would become less pro-republican. The Ulster counties along with Belfast, "a great center of the linen manufacture, shipbuilding and engineering ", were as developed as the Great Britain itself, whereas the rest of Ireland still enjoyed the traditional economy, its people could not speak English, and being Roman Catholics, they were more willing to obey the commands from Vatican than those of the British Government. British Laws prevented them from holding public office, owning land...

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