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Redmond, John

Redmond, John (1856–1918). Redmond, a lawyer, was born in Co. Wexford. He became clerk of the House of Commons in 1880, and an Irish Parliamentary Party MP from 1881. He led the Parnellites from 1891 and the entire party from 1900. His great opportunity appeared to come with the introduction of the third Home Rule Bill in 1912, but when opposition in Ulster and in the Tory Party mounted, Redmond seemed increasingly weak and over-dependent on the Liberal alliance. He underrated the depth of Ulster resistance. He sought to undercut opposition to his leadership by taking over the leadership of the Irish Volunteers and ensured that the war's increasing unpopularity would reflect on his party. Redmond failed to react effectively to the British execution of the Easter Rising's leaders in 1916, and weakened on the partition issue during Lloyd George's Home Rule negotiations. In 1917, his leadership of Irish nationalism collapsed under Sinn Fein challenge. He died before the final defeat of his party in the 1918 general election, but events had overtaken his youthful radicalism, and he had failed to reconcile his nationalism with his respect for the British Parliament.

Michael Hopkinson

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