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Irish National Party

Irish National Party (Irish Parliamentary Party). Beginning from 1870 under Isaac Butt's Home Government Association, it only became a disciplined successful party under Parnell 1880–90. In the 1880s Parnell took advantage of the extension of the franchise, improved literacy and communications, and favourable circumstances at Westminster to build up a highly organized modern party which pressed the issue of Home Rule on British politicians. It increased popular support by its association with the land reform agitation. It split into contending factions over Parnell's fall 1890–1 and unity was only restored in 1900 under John Redmond. But the party never recovered the wide popularity enjoyed under Parnell and was overtaken by the appeal of new nationalism to the young. Appearing close to success when the third Home Rule Bill was introduced in 1912, it suffered from the effective opposition in Ulster and in the Conservative Party to that bill. By supporting the British government in the First World War, it was blamed for the war's increasing unpopularity. It declined rapidly in the two years after the Easter Rising following the final failure of Home Rule settlement in 1916 and its apparent weakening over partition, and was obliterated by Sinn Fein in the 1918 general election. It suffered from being a single issue party for so long, and for being so dependent on British politicians.

Michael Hopkinson

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