Random Ramblings from a Republican
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Parnell and the Home Rule Party

The Home Rule Party was one of diverse composition. Catholics, Protestants, Fenians, '48ers, Liberals and Conservatives all came under one umbrella; dedicated to the ideal of an independent Ireland ruled by its own parliament. Typically, every single legislation that could even be construed as positive for the new party is defeated by the combined will of the Tory and Liberal parties of the British. This may seem as if it would have been terribly discouraging, but the opposite effect actually happened. This united even MORE people more tightly under this simple principle. It also inspired the voters of Ireland and they votes en masse for Home Rule candidates for Westminster seats. Prior to the middle of the 1870's, the Irish voters completely ignored Westminster politics because they had no means of fair representation in order to have their grievances heard. But with the introduction of passionate and dedicated MPs who were ready to listen and act on complaints, the electors of Ireland finally found an adequate political voice.

As for actually achieving any progress towards their goal of an independent Ireland, there were no concrete results to speak of. The Home Rule Party with Isaac Butt as its head would never achieve its goal and would essentially be eradicated by the rise of militancy after the 1916 rising. It's downfall began well before that event. But the successes of the party laid in its ability to sparking nationalistic spirit by educating and organising those willing to fight British occupation.

When John Martin died in 1875, his vacant Westminster seat brought to the political forefront a man who would shake the British establishment's perception of this new party. This man was Charles Stewart Parnell from Wicklow. He was a Protestant and a landlord whose family was known for involvement in politics. His great grandfather was a prominent figure in Henry Grattan's Parliament of the late 18th century.

Considered by most to be a quiet gentlemen, he was not perceived to be much of a threat by the British establishment. He was expected to make a speech of little importance of now and again and sink back into the background as merely an observer. An for a while, this was true; Parnell observed the ways of the Parliament. This was only as an act of feeling out for a sense of parliamentary procedure, soon enough, Parnell was making his views heard and making the Brits irritated beyond belief.

The Home Rulers with Parnell as one of its loudest voices, became masters of parliamentary stalling, what we know as filibustering. Alongside him was a Belfast merchant by the name of J. Gillis Biggar, who advocated the practise of parliamentary "procrastination" as well. Biggar was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood's "Supreme Council"; a modern congruent of the Army Council.

This was the beginning of a decade of Home Rule Party prominence.

*Tomorrow will be Parnell and the Home Rule Party thru the first Home Rule Bill and up until the fall of Parnell. 
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Ta ar la anois.

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