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Declaration against Home Rule

Declaration against Home Rule

10 October 1911

A combination of political, economic, and religious reasons motivated Irish unionists to oppose Home Rule. The tenacity and scope of their resistance increased in the aftermath of the two general elections of 1910, confirming the Liberals in government office and leading to the passage of the Parliament Act of 1911, which made Home Rule seem inevitable in the near future by abolishing the absolute veto of the House of Lords. The Protestants of Ulster dominated unionist resistance, but in general the 400,000 or so Protestants living in southern Ireland were also strenuously opposed to Home Rule, as the document below, produced during a meeting of southern Unionists in Dublin, makes clear.

SEE ALSO Politics: 1800 to 1921—Challenges to the Union; Unionism from 1885 to 1922

We, Irishmen belonging to the three southern provinces, being of all creeds and classes, representing many separate interests, and sharing a common desire for the honour and welfare of our country, hereby declare our unalterable determination to uphold the legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland.

We protest against the creation of a separate parliament for Ireland, whether independent or subordinate.

We protest against the creation of an executive dependent for its existence upon the pleasure of such a parliament.

We do so upon the following grounds: because any measure for the creation of a separate Irish parliament and a separate Irish executive would produce most dangerous social confusion, involving a disastrous conflict of interests and classes and a serious risk of civil war. Because such a measure would endanger the commercial relations between Ireland and Great Britain, and would cause in Ireland widespread financial distrust, followed by a complete paralysis of enterprise.

Because such a measure would imperil personal liberty, freedom of opinion, and the spirit of tolerance in Ireland.

Because such a measure, instead of effecting a settlement, would inevitably pave the way for further efforts towards the complete separation of Ireland from Great Britain.

Because no statutory limitations restricting the authority of an Irish legislative assembly or the power of an Irish executive could protect the freedom and the rights of minorities in this country. Because such a measure would hand over Ireland to the government of a party which, notwithstanding [its] professions, the political purpose of which is obvious, has proved itself during its long course of action unworthy of the exercise of power by its repeated defiance of the law and disregard of the elementary principles of honesty and justice.

Because the great measures enacted in recent years by the imperial parliament have resulted in such industrial, agricultural, social, and educational progress that our country has been steadily advancing in prosperity, and we view with the gravest alarm an experiment which must in large measure destroy the good work already done and hinder the progress now in operation.

Finally, regarding the question from a wider point of view than that which concerns alone the internal government of Ireland, highly prizing as we do the advantages we derive from our present imperial position, and being justly proud of the place we Irishmen have long held amongst those to whom the empire owes its prosperity and fame, having been always faithful in our allegiance to our sovereigns and upholders of the constitution, we protest against any change that will deprive us of our birthright, by which we stand on equal ground with our fellow-countrymen of Great Britain as subjects of our king and citizens of the British empire.

The Times, 11 October 1911.

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