Resolutions Adopted at the Home Rule Conference
Resolutions Adopted at the Home Rule Conference
18–21 November 1873
Despite its failure in 1867, Fenianism was a clear sign that Irish disaffection was rooted in legitimate grievances, one of which was the continuing lack of self-government. To the disaffection of Irish Catholics was added that of many Irish Protestants when in 1869 the Liberals under Gladstone disestablished the Anglican church in Ireland and then proceeded to pass legislation in 1870 benefiting Irish tenants. Thus the Home Government Association (HGA), launched by Isaac Butt in September 1870, initially attracted the support of many disenchanted Protestants as well as the backing of aggrieved Catholics. The HGA and its successor the Home Rule League (founded in November 1873) revived the idea of a federal solution to the constitutional relationship between Britain and Ireland.
I. That as the basis of the proceedings of this conference, we declare our conviction that it is essentially necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland that the right of domestic legislation on all Irish affairs should be restored to our country.
II. That solemnly reasserting the inalienable right of the Irish people to self-government, we declare that time in our opinion has come when a combined and energetic effort should be made to obtain the restoration of that right.
III. That in accordance with the ancient and constitutional rights of the Irish nation, we claim the privilege of managing our own affairs by a parliament assembled in Ireland and composed of the sovereign, the Lords, and the Commons of Ireland.
IV. That in claiming these rights and privileges for our country, we adopt the principle of a federal arrangement, which would secure to the Irish parliament the right of legislating for and regulating all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, while leaving to the imperial parliament the power of dealing with all questions affecting the imperial Crown and government, legislation regarding the colonies and other dependencies of the Crown, the relations of the empire with foreign states, and all matters appertaining to the defence and stability of the empire at large; as well as the power of granting and providing the supplies necessary for imperial purposes.
V. That such an arrangement does not involve any change in the existing constitution of the imperial parliament or any interference with the prerogatives of the Crown or disturbance of the principles of the constitution.
VI. That to secure to the Irish people the advantages of constitutional government, it is essential that there should be in Ireland an administration for Irish affairs, controlled, according to constitutional principles, by the Irish parliament and conducted by ministers constitutionally responsible to that parliament.
VII. That in the opinion of the conference a federal arrangement based upon these principles would consolidate the strength and maintain the integrity of the empire and add to the dignity and power of the imperial Crown.
VIII. That while we believe that in an Irish parliament the rights and liberties of all classes of our countrymen would find their best and surest protection, we are willing that there should be incorporated in the federal constitution articles supplying the amplest guarantees that no change shall be made by parliament in the present settlement of property in Ireland, and that no legislation shall be adopted to establish any religious ascendancy in Ireland or to subject any person to disabilities on account of his religious opinions.
IX. That this conference calls on the Irish constituencies at the next general election to return men earnestly and truly devoted to the great cause which this conference has been called to promote, and who, in any emergency that may arise, will be ready to take counsel with a great national conference, to be called in such a manner as to represent the opinions and feelings of the Irish nation; and that with a view of rendering members of parliament and their constituents more in accord on all questions affecting the welfare of the country, it is recommended by this conference that at the close of each session of parliament the representatives should render to their constituents an account of their stewardships.
X. That in order to carry these objects into practical effect, an association be now formed, to be called "the Irish Home Rule League," of which the essential and fundamental principles shall be those declared in the resolutions adopted at this conference, and of which the object, and only object, shall be to obtain for Ireland by peaceable and constitutional means the self-government claimed in those resolutions. . . .
Proceedings of the Home Rule Conference Held at the Rotunda, Dublin, on the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st November, 1873 (1874), pp. 201–202.