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Ulster Solemn League and Covenant - Essay Example

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The so -called 'Ulster Solemn League and Covenant' was the petition made by the Irish Protestants of Ulster to prevent the granting of autonomy or Home Rule to Ireland. Home Rule would have given the Irish their own Parliament for the first time since the Act of Union with Great Britain had been signed in 1801.
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Ulster Solemn League and Covenant
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Ulster Solemn League and Covenant

The Ulster unionists in 1912 believed that their situation was difficult although not completely lost. The leading Ulster unionists came to the conclusion that the Solemn League and Covenant and then the Ulster Volunteer Force were essential elements of preventing Home Rule leading to an independent Irish Republic dominated by Roman Catholics, their worst nightmare come true.1
The drawing - up of the Solemn League and Covenant amply demonstrated the general fear of the Ulster Protestants towards the Home Rule Act as passed by the British Parliament would be introduced throughout Ireland in 1912. The act was designed to provide Ireland with a high degree of autonomy, the Ulster unionists fearing it would sooner rather than later make Ireland an independent nation.2
The Ulster unionists did not want the granting of home rule for Ulster even if it was given to the rest of Ireland, as they wished to maintain their allegiance to the British crown. On the 28 September 1912, quickly dubbed Ulster Day, the solemn league and covenant was signed by more than 450,000 unionist supporters on the first day. The covenant publicly declared the Ulster unionist determination to stay loyal to the Crown and vehemently opposed the enforcement of home rule for Ireland as a whole.3

The Home Rule Act was primarily intended to give an Irish Parliament control over its internal affairs only' leaving it part of the United Kingdom. It would give the Irish autonomy whilst leaving defence, trade, and foreign to be run from London. The province of Ulster was made up of nine counties in the north-eastern part of Ireland with a Protestant majority. Another major factor was that Ulster had maintained its trade superiority over the rest of the Ireland. The unionists therefore, argued that Ulster needed to maintain its British and Protestant identity and the best way to do so were to remain loyal to the crown (the unionists are also refereed to as Loyalists).

The moderate Irish nationalist leader was John Redmond the strongest advocate of Home Rule, and naturally enough argued that Ulster was included in Home Rule so that its heavy industry and generally successful commercial activities particularly in Belfast could be shared with the rest of Ireland. The Roman Catholics, who formed a majority of the Irish peoples, supported the autonomy that Home Rule would have granted them. Only a very small minority of Irish Roman Catholics supported the concept of a united Irish Republic completely free of British control and influence.4

The introduction of the Ulster Covenant, masterminded by Sir James Craig was subsequently signed by the vast majority of unionists they openly proclaimed their loyalty to the crown and were assisted by the Conservatives who worked behind the scenes to block or at least water down Home Rule legislation.
The controversy over David Lloyd George's Peoples Budget of 1909 had the unforeseen consequence of inadvertently delaying the legislation for Irish Home Rule whilst the Parliament Act was passed to curb the power of the House of Lords. The crisis over the Peoples Budget gave the opponents of Home Rule in Ulster particular the opportunity as well as the time to organise resistance to its adoption. They were helped considerably by the Conservativ ... Read More
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