The Ulster Volunteer Resolutions

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The Ulster Volunteer Resolutions


The raising of "volunteer" military units, which might (or might not) be subsequently recognized by the government as militia units, was a familiar practice among Protestants when there was danger of popular disturbance or French invasion. Alarm over possible invasion during the French-supported insurrection in the American colonies was the occasion for an especially widespread wave of volunteering. This time the exercise coincided with an acute confrontation within the Irish polity between supporters of the government and "Patriots." Volunteer support for Patriot demands that the Irish parliament be granted greater autonomy culminated in a February 1782 convention of delegates from Ulster Volunteer units in Dungannon which adopted the following resolutions.

SEE ALSO Military Forces from 1690 to 1800

Whereas it has been asserted, "That volunteers, as such, cannot with propriety, debate or publish their opinions on political subjects, or on the conduct of parliament or public men."

Resolved unanimously, That a citizen, by learning the use of arms, does not abandon any of his civil rights.

Resolved unanimously, That a claim of any body of men, other than the king, lords, and commons of Ireland to make laws to bind this kingdom, is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance.

Resolved (with one dissenting voice only), That the powers exercised by the privy council of both kingdoms, under, or under colour or pretence of the law of Poynings,' are unconstitutional and a grievance.

Resolved unanimously, That the ports of this country are, by right, open to all foreign countries, not at war with the king, and that any burden thereupon, or obstruction thereto, save only by the parliament of Ireland, are unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance.

Resolved (with one dissenting voice only), That a mutiny bill, not limited in point of duration from session to session, is unconstitutional, and a grievance.

Resolved unanimously, That the independence of judges is equally essential to the impartial administration of justice in Ireland, as in England, and that the refusal or delay of this right to Ireland, makes a distinction where there should be no distinction, may excite jealously where perfect union should prevail, and is, in itself, unconstitutional, and a grievance.

Resolved (with eleven dissenting voices only), That it is our decided and unalterable determination, to seek a redress of those grievances; and we pledge ourselves to each other and to our country, as freeholders, fellow-citizens, and men of honour, that we will at every ensuing election, support those only, who have supported, and will support us therein, and we will use all constitutional means to make such pursuit of redress speedy and effectual.

Resolved (with one dissenting voice only), That the right honourable and honourable the minority in parliament, who have supported these our constitutional rights, are entitled to our most grateful thanks, and that the annexed address be signed by the chairman, and published with these resolutions.

Resolved unanimously, That four members from each county of the province of Ulster, eleven to be a quorum, be, and are hereby appointed a committee till next general meeting, to act for the volunteer corps here represented, and as occasions shall require, to call general meetings of the province. . . .

Resolved unanimously, That said committee do appoint nine of their members to be a committee in Dublin, in order to communicate with such other volunteer associations in the other provinces as may think proper to come to similar resolutions, and to deliberate with them on the most constitutional means of carrying them into effect.

Resolved unanimously, That the committee be, and are hereby instructed to call a general meeting of the province, within twelve months from this day, or in fourteen days after the dissolution of the present parliament, should such an event sooner take place.

Resolved unanimously, That the court of Portugal have acted towards this kingdom (being part of the British empire) in such a manner as to call upon us to declare and pledge ourselves to each other that we will not consume any wine of the growth of Portugal, and that we will, to the extent of our influence, prevent the use of said wine, save and except the wine at present in this kingdom, until such time as our exports shall be received in the kingdom of Portugal, as the manufactures of part of the British empire.

Resolved (with two differing voices only, to this and the following resolution), That we hold the right of private judgment in matters of religion, to be equally sacred in others as in ourselves.

Resolved therefore, That as men and as Irishmen, as christians and as Protestants, we rejoice in the relaxation of the penal laws against our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and that we conceive the measure to be fraught with the happiest consequences to the union and prosperity of the inhabitants of Ireland.

Reprinted in Irish Historical Documents,1172–1922, edited by Edmund Curtis and R. B. McDowell (1943), pp. 233–235.

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The Ulster Volunteer Resolutions

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